long-time family doctor hangs up his stethoscope | Local News


When Dr Charles Li arrived in Chicago in 1974 after working as a surgeon in Taiwan, he might not have imagined he would end up in a small town along the Gulf Coast of Florida, from where he retires 43 years later at 76. .

But Dr Li, a family doctor, found that “Crystal River is a great city to live in and grow up in. … I like the lifestyle.

Dr Bhadresh Patel buys the practice of a retiring doctor

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Dr Bhadresh Patel bought Li’s clinic along the West Gulf-to-Lake Highway in Crystal River, and Dr Jerome Carolino, a family doctor, is the new doctor. Dr. Patel now has four clinics – in Beverly Hills, Inverness, Floral City, and Crystal River – that are part of West Florida Medical Associates.

“Dr. Li has served Crystal River for over 40 years, serving nursing homes and hospitals,” said Dr. Patel. “He is a very dedicated physician… and very professional in his profession. approach to patient care, ”according to Dr. Patel.

Dr Li immigrated to Chicago and after three years as a resident physician moved to Florida. A friend in Ocala told him about “a good opportunity,” Li said, and urged him to apply when the Seven Rivers Community Hospital opened in 1978. He has done so and since, he looks after the medical needs of residents of Citrus County.

His wife, Su-Jan, who trained as a chemist and taught high school physics in Taiwan, helped run Li’s office.

“She’s a good person,” he said with a smile.

Li recalled when he first moved to Crystal River, “You could see fish. You could see the bay from Highway 19.

As Crystal River grew, Li strived to become a good counselor and friend to her patients.

Compared to other medical specialties, a family physician, he found, has “more interaction with the patient. We provide primary care.

He said he also got to know the family members of his patients.

“They bring their families, their grandchildren,” he said. “They come to see me and discuss. They are happy to talk to me and full of hope. It is family practice. … That’s what it means. “

Li took this sense of camaraderie with him when he was appointed Chief of Staff at Seven Rivers Hospital, 22 years after joining the facility’s medical team.

As chief of staff, he found himself busy with meetings and paperwork. And he strived to make the hospital environment more professional.

For example, under his tenure, nurses wore white uniforms to distinguish them from other hospital staff. Previously, they had mingled with everyone.

As if he wasn’t busy supervising the hospital workers, Li was also the medical director of three nursing homes. And he took time in his schedule to actively participate in Crystal River Rotary, a group he’s been a member of since 1991.

Avis Marie Craig, who joined Rotary four years after Dr Li, said he was “really remarkable. Doctors often struggle to meet our attendance requirements, but he’s had 24 years of perfect attendance. This is amazing for any Rotarian, but especially for a doctor.

She said Li has been named Paul Harris Fellow three times. Fellows are honored for contributing at least $ 1,000 to The Rotary Foundation or other Rotary causes, and are sometimes honored for other activities.

Craig said she has sat at Li’s table several times for the club’s weekly lunches, and Li “is a gentleman. I wish him the best for his retirement. “

Amy Meek, former president of Crystal River Rotary, said Li is “just a great person. He devotes his time, effort and energy to our community in a very modest way.

Meek said Li and his wife frequently attend Rotary community events, including meal preparation and “Save Our Waters” efforts.

“He and his wife are not afraid to go out and get to work,” she said.

Li and his wife raised two sons: Jonathan, now a cardiologist in Las Vegas, and Michael, an orthodontist in San Francisco. Jonathan has two sons.

Jonathan and Michael both attended the University of Chicago. Jonathan was also educated at Tufts University and Michael at Columbia University.

Li is proud of his sons and proud that they can easily move from childhood in Crystal River to practices in big cities.

Like many doctors, Li laments the transformation of medicine from the old-fashioned personal and caring relationships between a doctor and his patients into a big business.

“Everything is money now,” he said. “Money talks.”

Many people receive care through HMOs, and the quality of care they receive is not always the best, according to Li.

Meanwhile, Medicare is keeping a close eye on doctors, “making sure you don’t do this and that. And relationships with patients are suffering, ”Li said.

Nevertheless, medical care in places like Taiwan, Canada, Japan or England, where a more socialized form of medicine is provided, is also problematic, according to Li.

He spoke of a person who had lung cancer and was 40 years old. He was seeking treatment in Canada “but they were going to send him home.”

However, others told him, “Come to the United States, we can treat you,” Li said.

When asked how the United States can improve its medical system, Li shrugged and indicated that the problem was more serious than one person could solve.

“I don’t know,” he said.

Likewise, it does not have secure prescriptions on how the United States should deal with COVID.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s all about politics and economics.

Nonetheless, he said COVID needs to be controlled “around the world”.

For Li, COVID has made meetings less enjoyable. He’s not a Zoom fan. COVID has also put a stop to travel, and Li is used to traveling to many countries around the world.

Nonetheless, he said, on his return from his travels in the world, whether he landed in New York, Miami or elsewhere, “You feel good. You feel free.

When customs officials ask if travelers have brought agricultural products, and travelers say, “No,” officials “trust you,” Li said. “You can come back here and relax. … It’s a big country, ”he said.

Li said he was not quite sure what he would do when he retired. He pointed out that he was retiring at the same time as longtime Citrus County Chronicle editor Gerry Mulligan was retiring.

Mulligan said in an email that Li “has been an incredible advocate for the health of his patients and the health of his community. He spends all day caring for his patients, then volunteers on weekends to look after his community.

Mulligan highlighted what other Rotarians have said.

“Whenever Crystal River Rotary organized a community service event or project, both Dr. Li and his wife volunteered,” Mulligan wrote.

Whatever the future holds for Li, it is inevitable that he will stay active.

And he doesn’t rule out the possibility of walking into his office and seeing the people he once cared for.

“I would like to continue to mingle with my patients,” he said.

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