By Tamas Mondovics
Nearly 100 people including local government leaders, Tampa’s James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital (JAHVH) administration and staff along with members of the community gathered under a large tent on an open field in Riverview last month to celebrate the groundbreaking ceremony for the VA’s new South Hillsborough Community Based Outpatient Clinic.
Located at 11100 Fairway Meadow Dr. in Riverview just north of Big Bend Rd. and east of US 301 behind the Summerfield Plaza, the new clinic will be a 50,000 sq. ft.
facility, expected to serve the nearly 10,000 veterans who live in the Riverview, Ruskin, Sun City, Apollo Beach and other areas of South Hillsborough County.
Construction for the project is expected to last about a year, and when completed, in addition to primary care, it will include women’s primary care, home-based primary care, mental health, audiology, radiology (including MRI, CT, ultrasound and x-rays), specialty care, physical therapy, pharmacy and a lab.
“When this is all finished, we’re going to have a state-of-the-art, beautiful clinic here for our veterans to use in south Hillsborough County,” said JAHVH Director Joe Battle.
Hospital officials said that the $44 million contract was awarded to Hokanson Companies, Inc. from Indianapolis, IN for a 15-year lease to the VA. Doster Construction Co. from Birmingham, AL is to complete the construction of the facility which will have the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification.
“This will improve access to care and help veterans not have to travel as far for the care that they get,” Battle said. “This clinic is a testament to our commitment and the promise that we give to veterans to provide care as part of their service and the sacrifices they have made.”
The VA’s national budget in 2015 was around $200 billion dollars. Tampa’s JAHVH annual budget is about $1 billion serving the bay area and its more than 90,000 veterans with 5,000 employees. Currently, Florida has the third largest veterans population.
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (Florida’s 16th District) attended the event and spoke highly of the project when he said, “I applaud these visionaries to get this project off the ground.”
Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White added, “This is a great addition to the community serving veterans in a middle of a major residential area.”
Additional information about James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital can be found at www.tampa.va.gov.