Veterans in west Pasco County served their country. Now it's their turn.
They'll get better medical care through the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic here, officials say.
With more than 54,000 veterans calling the county home, the clinic has added three satellite offices for specialty care in mental health, home-based primary care visits and dental disabilities.
The clinic at 9912 Little Road will get an addition of about 4,000 square feet to its main building, now about 40,000 square feet. Parking lot expansion will add up to 60 spaces to the main lot.
Thousands of veterans are served here every year, said William Miller, chief medical officer for the outpatient clinic. The facility registers about 14,000 patient visits annually.
Funding for the improvements was arranged by U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, Miller said.
"The congressman has been very instrumental," Miller said.
Veterans must be registered as patients at the main clinic before they can be referred to the satellite clinics. Call (727) 869-4100 for eligibility information.
Office space in the Barrister Building, 7701 Little Road, will allow an expansion of VA mental health services. The branch office, which is across from the West Pasco Government Center, allowed the Department of Veterans Affairs to double the number of mental health specialists based in the west Pasco area, Miller said.
A psychiatrist, three psychologists and two social workers already are onboard, with more staff to be added.
Home-based primary care for severely disabled veterans is available at 7347 Ridge Road, in the former Visiting Nurses Association office near Lemon Road.
"It's a multidisciplinary team of folks" that sees about 90 veterans in their homes, Miller said. "It's a terrific program."
In the past, ambulances had to ferry the disabled veterans to the main clinic on Little Road, Miller said. Special transportation was necessary because the veterans often had to be moved by wheelchair or gurney.
Veterans can request a home evaluation to see if they qualify.
Only a few veterans with dental-related disabilities will qualify to see specialists at the satellite office at 5138 Deer Park Drive, Suites 101 and 102. Usually veterans who developed dental problems while serving in the armed forced can seek the extra help.
Miller stressed that this branch office is not intended for general dental care.