The road was long and sometimes uncertain, but after nearly four years, the new Zephyrhills Veterans Clinic is finally open.
Ground was broken for the $16 million clinic on June 7, 2019. But after the long wait, the new clinic marked its opening with a celebration on the morning of May 6.
Government officials, veterans and well-wishers gathered to welcome the new 14,000-square-foot facility, at 37827 Eiland Blvd.
It’s one of 16 clinics operated by James A. Haley Veterans Hospital (JAHVH) and will help address the health needs of veterans in Zephyrhills, the largest municipality in Pasco County.
“This facility will have all the stops under one roof for convenience,” JAHVH Director David Dunning said. “We believe in the qualities of the upgrades at this location in Zephyrhills, which was very much needed, and we will continue to provide our hallmark treatment and services known with the Veterans Hospital.”
The clinic is designed to accommodate people with disabilities and will offer new services such as podiatry and physical therapy.
Additional services it will provide include hearing aid repair, social work, food and nutrition and tele-health. Each patient will have an assigned patient-aligned care team that will consist of a physician, nurse, social worker and a mental health provider.
Patients needing surgeries and extensive therapy will be referred to the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital for those services.
Ten rooms will be used for primary care. Six rooms are devoted to mental health treatment, which aligns with the VA’s efforts to provide improved access to psychiatric care services.
People who need care but lack transportation will be able to take advantage of a service that provides free rides to appointments.
“I’m excited about the new clinic because it’s going to enhance the patient experience for our veterans,” Dr. Scott Knoeppel, chief medical officer of Zephyrhills Community Based Outpatient Clinic, said in a statement in January to The Laker/Lutz News. “The new clinic will be nearly triple in size, so we now have the capacity to add some high-demand specialty care services, such as physical therapy, podiatry and hearing aid repair.
“Additionally, our mental health providers will be seeing patients in the new building, as well. Offering these services in one building will be of convenience to our veterans. Lastly, we will be expanding parking capacity, which had been a challenge at the previous location.”
The clinic’s construction was finished in late 2022, but supply chain issues delayed the opening.
Additionally, the Tampa VA had an unprecedented amount of construction activities occurring at the same time, swamping officials with a logjam of projects.
The main hospital unveiled a Bed Tower of 240,000 square feet and 150 beds on Jan. 21, the VA clinic in New Port Richey expanded to serve up to 24,000 veterans and Lakeland broke ground on a new 93,000-square-foot facility in April 2022.
Now, services at the Zephyrhills clinic will get underway led by a staff of more than 50 medical professionals.
David Issacks, director of Veterans Integrated Services Network 8, said the importance of the new clinic and its services are invaluable.
“With everything and all the services we provide under one roof, people will walk through the doors of this great facility and always reflect on every veteran that served and made a facility like this, that is for them, possible.”
Published May 17, 2023