Dr. Sreevalli Dega, known to her friends and family as “Sreelu,” is originally from India, and came to the United States in 2007. She is rapidly making her mark in Statesboro as part-owner of Statesboro Urgent Care, along with her husband, Dr. Ian Munger.
Dega began her career with an internship to residency in Maryland and Iowa before settling down in the Boro. She was inspired to become a doctor by the example of compassion she saw in her parents, who she says made caring for their patients their priority.
“They took a lot of pride in their work and it was natural to get attracted to what they were doing. I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was in high school, as I saw the contentment and passion that my parents shared in the medical field,” she said, adding that her parents are her heroes, along with her former boss, who she calls “Dr. K.”
“My parents have inspired me to be who I am today. My parents have taught me the most important thing in life is to be thankful, to be content and always do the right thing, however hard it is,” she said.
Dega says it was important for her and her husband to open Statesboro Urgent Care because they say a rising need in the community for immediate health care needs, and it was important during the height of the pandemic to provide testing and care for COVID patients.
“We also wanted to give back to the community that we felt was our home and this was a great way to serve to community,” she said.
Building the facility and getting it up and running during a pandemic had its share of problems, she said.
“We started construction just prior to the shutdown,” she said. “Cost of goods, availability of goods, issues with getting permits from public services that were down, these all created backlogs, extra money, extra paperwork that slowed the process. Our steadfast and dedicated approach was the only reason that the project was finished.”
With no backing financially from outside sources, like hospitals or providers, Dega said the responsibility “was ours alone.”
“The community helped us and people that we know were very helpful along the way with getting in touch with the right people and the right areas to get things accomplished,” she added.
But even with all the difficulties during construction, there were some “must haves” that Dega says they would not compromise on: good providers, accountable and hardworking staff, good parking, good relationships with primary care providers in the area, and a good working relationship with East Georgia Regional Medical Center.
After the office was open, the problems didn’t end. Availability of tests, supplies and basic personal protective equipment led to frustration and difficulty for all. But Dega says that their top priority was to protect their staff and patients, and to help the patients in need.
Even with all of the difficulty in the beginning, Dega says she loves her work.
“I like to see all ages and all varieties of illnesses. It is very challenging to not know what walks into the door and be prepared. This curiosity and my personality to enjoy challenges helped me to pick urgent care,” she says, adding that she doesn’t enjoy the paperwork that she says is just part of the job.
But the patients make up for the administrative side of things.
“I love my patients, and I like connecting with them. Helping (patients) at times that they need the most help is very rewarding,” she said.
Dega and Munger have two children, daughters Nishi (8 years old) and Nimi (6 years old). The family also includes two fur babies, Kulu and Fluffy. With her career in full swing and a full household, Dega is one busy lady, and her days begin early.
A typical day for her begins at 5 a.m., and following a workout, she drops the children at school during the school year. Then it’s off to the office, where Dega says her day could mean a steady flow of patients, or a slower-paced day. Statesboro Urgent Care is a walk-in clinic, so the staff works around the flow of patients that come in.
Dega says most of the challenges the staff at SUC faces involve working to make sure the patients are seen in a timely manner, and that each patient is given appropriate time. Multitasking and teamwork are key to meeting those challenges.
Practicing medicine is often full of other challenges as well. Lack of supplies and resources, improvising care to adapt to changing times, and constant changes in guidelines are all frustrations that Dega and other physicians face daily.
“Mental health also plays a big role both professionally and personally, as it is very hard to work long hours and keep up with the demand,” she said.
But meeting those challenges is much easier with the right partner, professionally and personally. Dega and Munger are not only partners in business, but she calls him her “partner in crime” as well.
“We both have similar goals and have a passion to serve and deliver quality care to our community. Our team at Urgent Care is more a family. We all knew each other even before we came together as coworkers. They truly believe team work makes the dream work, and they go out of the way to help our patients. I admire and am very proud of my work family. It is hard to find people who come to work to serve and make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.
Dega says she likes to decompress by cooking, spending time with her children and traveling. She enjoys working out and being part of X4, Crossfit Fusion. She also loves listening to podcasts and reading books in her spare time.
Dega is well aware that as a woman in her chosen field, it’s important that young women know they can look up to her as a role model. She says she works hard to teach her own daughters that they can be anything they want to be, and that they should follow their hearts, without any reservations.
“They can be a mom, wife, sister or daughter and also be who they want to be. I also believe family support is very important and plays an important role. I remind my girls and teach them every day that family is the most important piece of the puzzle, and it holds us together and helps us grow,” she said.
Dega is also involved in the community as a member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Statesboro, and is on the Board of Trustees at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. She is also a member of the Statesboro Service League and is an alumna of Leadership Bulloch.
Dega wants her professional legacy to mean the best care for her patients.
“We as physicians work in this community and we make ourselves available to our patients when in need. Being available, accountable and providing care is important to us,” she said.
As for her personal legacy, it’s all about her children and giving back to the community.
“Our children, Nishi and Nimi, were born in Statesboro and it is our home. We plan to make lifelong, lasting memories with our children in the Boro,” she said. “Being part of Rotary and the Service League also helps me personally to make a difference.”
Dega says she and her family are blessed to call the Boro home.
“This is our children’s birthplace and we are very proud to call the Boro our home,” she said. “We are looking forward to serving this community, and seeing our children grow in this community. We will continue to help Statesboro grow into the great community that it is becoming while keeping its historical values that make it a welcoming and friendly place.”