SUN CITY CENTER – Small lifestyle changes can make a major difference in a person’s health.
That’s the advice Dr. Jeffrey Lester routinely gives patients at the Tampa General Medical Group family care center at 1647 Sun City Center Plaza.
The 39-year-old physician is a major proponent of preventive medicine, and his appointment as a general internist at Tampa General Hospital’s new center in Sun City Center fit right into that philosophy.
With the opening of the Sun City Center family care center in October, Tampa General now has seven family care centers around Hillsborough County to provide well-care services, treatment for routine illnesses and help for patients in managing chronic illnesses.
“The idea is to provide preventive medical care for residents in the area so they don’t end up in the emergency room,” said Lester. “That’s my specialty. I eat, drink and breathe prevention.”
Lester currently is the only physician at the Sun City Center office, although another doctor is expected to join the practice this spring.
“I’m available at the center five days a week from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and I am accepting new patients,” he said.
Lester is quick to point out, however, that his isn’t a one-man show. The Sun City Center office features four exam rooms where visiting specialists from Tampa General Hospital see patients on a rotating basis.
“And I’ve got a terrific staff,” he said. “I couldn’t do this work without them.”
A graduate of Countryside High School in Clearwater, Lester originally considered a career as a stock broker and majored in finance at the University of South Florida, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1996.
However, when he realized that more and more people were trading stocks and bonds on their own via the Internet, Lester decided to alter his career path.
“I’ve always been interested in helping people stay healthy, particularly as they age,” he said. “So I decided to take the plunge and become a doctor.”
After earning a degree in chemistry from USF, Lester attended Ross University School of Medicine in the Caribbean, graduating in 2004. He began his residency in internal medicine at the University of Oklahoma in Tulsa and was board certified in 2007. He then completed his training in medical genetics at the University of Miami in 2009.
With his education behind him, Lester joined the National Health Service Corps for three years, treating low-income, indigent patients in Baltimore.
When the Tampa General position opened, Lester and his wife, Krystal, also from Florida, jumped at the chance to move back home and raise their children near family. The couple live in FishHawk Ranch with their 2- and 5-year-old children. Krystal Lester is a pediatrician but is taking time off to be a stay-at-home mom.
“It’s been great working here,” said Lester. “This is what I trained for. I specialize in adult medicine, including caring for the elderly population.”
He said he’s especially pleased to work in such a health-conscious community.
“People here tend to take good care of themselves,” he said. “They watch what they eat and get exercise.”
Those are two key factors in maintaining good health, said Lester.
“Quitting smoking, losing weight, avoiding salt and exercising – even simple, low-impact exercises – can have a major impact,” he said. “And, of course, seeing a doctor once a year is a must.”
Lester can be reached at (813) 844-4700.
D’Ann Lawrence White is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]