By Chad Mills
CLEARWATER, Fla. — More space for more services to help heal more veterans. Bay Pines VA said that’s what its new outpatient clinic in Clearwater will offer veterans in North Pinellas County.
The clinic is built at the site of a former Toys-R-Us store at 26286 US Highway 19 North in Clearwater, across from the Countryside Mall.
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Assistant Director Joe Scotchlas said it will be an asset to the growing veteran population in the area.
“Our veteran population in Pinellas County, particularly in North Pinellas County, has continued to grow over the last several years,” he said. “We’re expecting to grow with the veteran population and provide more services.”
Scotchlas said as the population grew in recent years, the current North Pinellas clinic in Palm Harbor “wasn’t meeting the needs for veterans.”
The Palm Harbor clinic will close on Friday, June 10. The new clinic in Clearwater will start seeing patients on Monday, June 13.
The new clinic is more than double the size of the Palm Harbor clinic.
“Which really gives us an opportunity to expand our current services and also gives us an opportunity to expand into new services that we’ve not offered in that area,” explained Scotchlas.
He said the bigger space will allow Bay Pines to enroll about 1,200 new patients for primary care.
It’ll also allow for more physical medicine, like physical and occupational therapy.
Additionally, the clinic will offer better mental health services, including a secluded mental health center.
Ultimately, the new clinic should allow Bay Pines VA to see about 10,000 of North Pinellas’ veterans, compared to the current 6,500.
“We’ve sent postcards out to all of our currently-enrolled veterans that they’re aware of the new location, and we’re just trying to make sure that we get the word out,” said Scotchlas.
According to Scotchlas, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) is aware of the transition and has already moved a bus stop closer to the new clinic.
Veterans can call 727-734-5276 to reach the North Pinellas Community Based Outpatient Clinic.