The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is in the midst of building a new outpatient clinic in Zephyrhills.
As a branch of Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital, the facility will be an upgraded replacement to the current Zephyrhills Community Based Outpatient Clinic. It will serve former members of the military.
“I’d say accessibility is probably our biggest reason for building a new clinic,” said Shayna Rodriguez, public affairs specialist at James A. Haley. “It will be easier for veterans to use, and we’ll have more capability and accessibility for them.”
Danny Burgess is the executive director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
The Zephyrhills native said he’s anticipating the added amenities this new facility will offer service men and women.
Burgess stated that, “The new VA clinic in Zephyrhills will be a game changer for veterans in East Pasco. The expansion will provide increased access to quality healthcare. We are so excited for this commitment to our community by USDVA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs); and FDVA (Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs) looks forward to growing our strong relationship with our federal partners.”
The 14,000-square-foot facility will offer more space, housing both primary care and mental health services within the same building.
Ten rooms will be devoted to primary care, while six rooms will be used for treating mental health.
The expansion of rooms indicates the VA’s efforts to provide more access to psychiatric care, Rodriguez noted.
The clinic will be designed to accommodate the handicapped, and will offer new services such as podiatry and physical therapy.
It also will include anticoagulation pharmacy services and a lab. Telehealth – services provided remotely over the phone — also will be available.
Each patient will have an assigned “patient-aligned care team,” Rodriguez said. The team will consist of a physician, nurse, social worker and a mental health provider.
Patients will be referred to and treated at the James A. Haley hospital for surgeries and extensive therapy.
Those without their own transportation will be able to take advantage of a pick-up service to receive free rides to their doctor’s appointments.
“When we do these studies,” said Rodriguez, “we take a very close look at where is going to be most convenient for them, where the bulk of veterans live.”
Based on travel time, veterans may be eligible for reimbursement when commuting to the clinic in their own vehicle.
Veteran women’s health has been ongoing, but additional services will be provided at the new clinic – especially for those with infants.
“We’ll also be adding a lactation room because women veterans are one of our fastest-growing demographics,” Rodriguez said.
The increase in the number of veterans living in Tampa Bay has led to a need for more clinics.
The James A. Haley hospital is not exclusive to just its VA clinics in Zephyrhills and New Port Richey, but branches out cross-county.
These counties include Hillsborough, Hernando and Polk, with Citrus County expected to join the list.
In September of last year, alone, there were over 6,000 visits to the current Zephyrhills clinic, Rodriguez said.
She also noted there’s typically an increase of veterans needing services, as snowbirds flock to Florida near the end of the year.
The U.S. Congress approved more than $12 million to fund the new complex, back in April. Construction on the Eiland Boulevard facility started in June.
Construction is expected to be completed by late 2020 and to open by mid-2021. Once operational, the current Zephyrhills clinic will be closed down.
Published October 2, 2019