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James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital - Tampa, Florida

 

JAHVH hosts two clinic groundbreakings

New Port Richey Groundbreaking Ceremony

With the turn of a shovel, ground is broken for the new New Port Richey Outpatient Clinic June 6. From left are Caleb Pressel, senior resident engineer for the project; Michael O'Connor, Nichols Melburg & Rossetto & Assiociates, architect; Steve Doctor, president and CEO of SASD, Inc.; Tim McClain, President and CEO of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce; JAHVH Director Joe Battle; U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis; former U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis; VISN 8 Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward Cutolo and JAHVH Acting Deputy Director Melissa Sundin.

By Ed Drohan
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Veterans in Pasco County will soon be getting two brand new outpatient clinics, the start of which was marked with groundbreaking ceremonies in New Port Richey and Zephyrhills June 6 and 7 respectively.

The New Port Richey project will consolidate five existing leases into one building that will have about 114,000 net usable square feet of space off Little Road and expand the services available to area Veterans.  The new clinic will include primary care, mental health, eye, dental, Home Based Primary Care, MRI, CT, ultrasound, x-ray, audiology, pharmacy, prosthetics, physical therapy, eligibility and enrollment, release of information, library, police and a canteen.  Activation of the new clinic is expected in 2022.

One of the special guests at the New Port Richey groundbreaking ceremony, which was held on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, was 98-year-old D-Day Veteran Anthony Caruso.  James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital Director Joe Battle acknowledged Caruso and thanked him for his service.

”As we were talking before the ceremony, he was telling me he’s 98 years old, and he was telling me how he was at the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting for the clinic we have right now,” Battle said.  “I said I look forward to seeing you at the ribbon cutting for this one when you’re 100, so we’re going to work together to make sure that happens.”

Zephyrhills Groundbreaking Ceremony

Turning dirt on June 7 for the Zephyrhills Community Based Outpatient Clinic project are, from left, Bill Nye, president of Nye Commercial; Santo Carollo, co-owner and developer of the project; Zephyrhills Mayor Gene Whitfield; Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Danny Burgess; U.S. Repo. Gus Bilirakis; JAHVH Director Joe Battle; Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley;VISN 8 Chief Medical Officer Dr. Edward Cutolo; and JAHVH Acting Deputy Director Melissa Sundin.

The new Zephyrhills Community Based Outpatient Clinic will be 13,000 square feet and will consolidate the current clinic and the Mental Health Clinic into a single facility.  It will also expand primary care from seven to 10 exam rooms, expand mental health from five to six rooms, and add new services for podiatry and physical therapy.

U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis attended both ceremonies.  In Zephyrhills, he spoke about what the new facilities will mean for Veterans.

“This clinic will expand the mental health services and primary care services available to Veterans in east Pasco County, something that is long overdue,” Bilirakis said.  “There’s going to be the new clinic in New Port Richey as well, and that will offer different services in some cases, so I want to make sure that you feel free to go to New Port Richey, just like they can come over here if you prefer services over here.”

The new Zephyrhills clinic is scheduled to be activated in 2020.

D-Day Veteran Anthony Caruso receives a standing ovation.

D-Day Veteran Anthony Caruso, 98, received a standing ovation from the crowd at the New Port Richey groundbreaking ceremony.

June 6 was also the nationwide kickoff date for the MISSION Act, one the tenets of which is modernization, something addressed by speakers at both ceremonies.

“To be able to maintain as much services within the VA as possible is certainly a strategic goal,” said Dr. Edward Cutolo, Veterans Integrated Service Network 8 chief medical officer.  “With the bed tower going up in the main hospital area, the replacement clinics in New Port Richey, Lakeland, Brooksville, Zephyrhills, the new opening of the SOHI Clinic.  You can tell the investment that’s been put in to maintaining and increasing services.”

Danny Burgess, executive chairman of the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and a native of Zephyrhills, agreed with Cutolo.

“This is very fitting that the VA has had multiple groundbreakings, and also the rollout of the MISSION Act, on the heels of our D-Day commemoration for the 75th anniversary.  A day where Veterans demonstrated the ultimate act of commitment to freedom and selflessness and courage, the VA is demonstrating their commitment to serving Veterans,” Burgess said.  “Thank you very much for your continued support for the Veterans, not just in our community, in our state and our VISN, but also our country.  We appreciate you.”

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