Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Brandon & South Shore News

Townhall for new Riverview VA Clinic draws hundreds

SUN CITY CENTER — More than 600 people crowded into the Sun City Center Community Center to hear James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital director Joe Battle give an update on the construction of a new VA clinic in Riverview.

Battle also bought VA staffers to handle transfers from Haley to the new clinic and to sign up patients yet to take advantage of Veterans’ Administration services.

Bill Hodges of the local Disabled American Veterans post, which sponsored the event, said the meeting represented one of the largest gatherings of veterans in Sun City Center history, adding that the VA came with 500 applications for vets to transfer and ran out before the end of the two-hour session.

Hodges, who also doubled as Master of Ceremonies, estimated 25 percent of the attendees were not local to the SCC retirement community.

Battle, who dubbed the clinic “SOHI” (it stands for South Hillsborough), said work is underway on the facility, which will feature 50,000 square feet of usable space. He noted that before he became an hospital administrator, he had been a construction engineer and he was impressed by the work and the timeliness of the job.

“The quality of the work is good,” he said, noting that workers have installed the MRI machine and audiology sound booths. The X-Ray machines will be installed next week.

“Thus far, this project is moving along well,” he added.

Battle says he expects the VA to sign for the building in January, move in all the necessary equipment thereafter, then test it and open “sometime in the Spring of 2019.”

We anticipate 10,000 veterans can be handled at the Clinic, Battle said.

With the current building boom going on in South Hillsborough County, the Clinic may easily fill its patient roster before opening, Battle estimates.

The new clinic will offer two primary care teams, woman’s primary care, home-based primary care, mental health, audiology, radiology, podiatry, physical therapy, a dispensing pharmacy, a clinical pharmacy, lab/phlebotomy, clinical social work, clinical nutritionists, library services, telehealth services by video instead of having to travel to Haley.

Director Battle brought with him enrollment specialists to help veterans sign up or transfer. Other experts on Mental health, Whole Health, patient Advocates and even military cemeteries were also on hand.

For those who have not yet signed up to use “SoHi,” the VA suggests that existing patients ask their primary care provider to have them moved.

New patients should go to tampa.va.gov/health benefits to enroll.

Contact Bob Black at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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