Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Dr. Savage retiring after 42 years in private practice

Tyler Moeller taking over doctor’s office on the Madison Street
Aug 01, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Dr. Fred Savage (right) is retiring in August after 42 years, leaving his private practice in the capable hands of Dr. Tyler Moeller (left).

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

“Is Freddy in today?” patients of Dr. Fred Savage ask when they call his office in Mt. Pleasant.

For 42 years, Savage has arrived at the Henry County Health Center at 7:20 a.m. Not a minute earlier or later. He reads charts, looks over medical records and picks up his patients’ lab work and heads to the cafeteria for breakfast.

From there, Savage visits his patients in the hospital before dropping by the Emergency Room to see if any of his patients checked in. Finally, he settles into his office at downtown at 107 E. Madison Street by 8:15 a.m.

While this routine may seem strenuous to some, it’s one Savage admires. “I like boredom,” he said. “It helps to be obsessive-compulsive,” he added.

In August, that routine is going to get a bit of a shake-up as Savage retires and hands over the keys of his practice to Dr. Tyler Moeller, a nurse practitioner who has been working alongside Savage for just over a year.

Moeller will be the third doctor to have his name on the door of the former Universalist Church building built in 1856. In 1951, the church was redesignated a doctors’ office operated by Dr. Byron Hartley for 21 years before Savage took over the practice himself.

For 42 years, Savage has served the community. His patients range from newcomers to Mt. Pleasant to residents he has known all his life.

As a child, Savage thought every boy wanted to be a doctor. “Things fell into place and here I am,” he says.

He and his family always admired their family doctor in Salem, and when Savage’s brother-in-law went to medical school, he thought to himself, “If my brother-in-law can be a doctor, I can be a doctor.”

Savage studied at Des Moines University and did his residency at Davenport Medical Center for three years. Following that, he was an Emergency Room physician at Burlington Medical Center. The opening at Hartley’s office offered the perfect opportunity for Savage to return to Mt. Pleasant where he grew up.

“It was all like planned,” Savage said, admiring how everything fell perfectly into place.

Savage’s attributes much of his success in his practice to his wife Debbie Savage and office nurses Jane Creager and Diane Smith, who will both stay on with Moeller. Savage considers them all family along with his patients, whom he admires greatly.

“We seriously at this office have the best patients in the whole world,” Savage boasted. “Our patients are all personable, conscientious and honest.”

Debbie herself has helped Savage with the practice “25 hours a day, eight days a week,” Savage said.

With a doctor who settles all questions on the same day they are received, he can rest assured his patients think the same of him. “We take care of the patients by the end of the day, every day,” Savage said. “We never let anything go till tomorrow.”

His staff, however, is what makes him get up in the morning and look forward to coming to work each day. It’s the team who have made the years easy — his fondest memories being of them.

A new, slightly unusual fondest memory is on the horizon: Moeller taking over the practice.

After having served with Savage for a little over a year, patients already request Moeller’s services. While that disappoints Savage to some extent, he believes Moeller is a natural.

“There’s a movie or two about ‘the natural,’ and maybe they were baseball players, but (Moeller) is a natural physician,” Savage said. “Like a baseball player, how much do they learn? How much is already natural? It was part of his being already.”

That’s what makes it so easy for Savage to pass on his practice. Like his daughter’s second husband, Moeller is an upgrade, Savage joked. The younger generation of medical professionals will be able to more easily pick up the new medicine and use the computers. He’s probably better looking too, Savage said with a chuckle.

“It does our heart good for our patients to be taken care of by Dr. Moeller in the future,” Savage said.

Debbie agrees, saying it was a good thing that Moeller came into their path. She is excited to see how someone young like Moeller manages a solo practice and is excited that Creager and Smith are staying on to lend a hand.

“We’ll miss it, but it will be nice to travel some,” Debbie said.

Moeller, who is a 2006 graduate from Mt. Pleasant Community High School himself, studied kinesiology at Iowa State before heading to the University of Iowa for nursing school. Moeller has quite the resume himself, having worked at the University of Iowa Hospital and Jefferson County Health Center in trauma, surgery and the Emergency Room.

“It’s a bit scary to go from school and into private practice where you don’t necessarily have a safety net of other providers in the same office who back you up,” Moeller said. “Dr. Savage has imparted a lot of great knowledge on me, great knowledge I would say we don’t necessarily learn in school.”

One of the most valuable lessons Moeller has learned from Savage is putting aside the patients’ and doctors’ agendas to work together to solve the problem. From Savage, Moeller has learned how to allow those agendas to “mold and mesh” into each other so by the end of the visit, there is a patient plan that works for both parties.

“Really, it’s working with patients to creatively figure out solutions to problems,” Moeller said.

Savage, on the other hand, will still be around. He just got a new hip, and will probably be sitting in his waiting room waiting next to former patients waiting to see Dr. Moeller.

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