Pasco News

NPR promotes hospital site for veterans clinic

With some $3.8 million in potential incentives to offer, New Port Richey officials are promoting construction of a consolidated Veterans Affairs health clinic on the grounds of the Medical Center of Trinity West Campus along Marine Parkway east of Grand Boulevard.

With hospital leaders expressing a keen interest, there is an “excellent chance” of basing the project within city limits, Mario Iezzoni, the city’s economic development manager, said Tuesday,

It is still early in the discussions and nothing has been decided, city officials emphasize. Medical Center of Trinity administrators are still wading through the 489-page federal document outlining requests for proposals, Iezzoni said. They must determine if it could make economic sense to place a bid. The hospital is owned by parent company HCA Hospitals, based in Nashville, Tennessee.

In late July, Leigh Massengill, CEO of Medical Center of Trinity, said discussions had gone on for ”some time the possibility of adding a wide range of services at the Medical Center of Trinity West Pasco Campus, where there is ample space and parking, and we would welcome the opportunity to explore this further.”

To sweeten the deal, the city could offer tax-increment incentives, street improvements and other inducements, Iezzoni said.

New Port Richey could recoup some property tax revenue if the deal comes together. The taxable values plummeted after Community Hospital of New Port Richey moved to State Road 54 and became Medical Center of Trinity. The hospital maintains a behavioral health satellite facility at the Marine Parkway site.

The hospital buildings on Marine Parkway have lost about three-fourths of their taxable value since 2006, Nearby medical office buildings also shrank in value at a much steeper rate than the city as a whole.

The money for a consolidated clinic in West Pasco was included in a federal law to improve health care for veterans in the wake of VA scandals. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, helped secure funding for a centralized facility here in place of the five existing clinics.

Some $12 million could go toward building a VA consolidated facility with nearly 115,000 square feet, Iezzoni reported in a Tuesday presentation. The VA would seek a 20-year lease with the builder of the facility.

Conditions include building the new clinic on one level, which would require about 2.5 acres, Iezzoni added in an interview. The former Community Hospital sat on a parcel with more than 24 acres.

Bilirakis press aide Ian Martorana provided additional details. The congressman “wants to make sure all possible sites are considered, and that ultimately the chosen location best meets the needs of our veterans,” Martorana said.

The project would need 114,000 net usable square feet and 525 parking spaces.

The consolidated clinic could merge services now provided at the main VA outpatient clinic at 9912 Little Road, dental services at 5138 Deer Park Drive, mental health annex at 7701 Little Road, eye clinic at 11031 U.S. 19, and home-based primary care at 7347 Ridge Road.

Additional services would be possible at a new facility, Martorana said.

“It is our understanding that Pasco veterans most frequently need to leave the county for radiology (MRI, CT, Ultrasound) and gastroenterology services,” Martorana wrote in an email.

“With so much additional space, we would like to see the VA offer these enhanced services to veterans, in order to make this new facility as convenient as possible,” Martorana said.

“This consolidated clinic represents the congressman’s passion for bringing convenience and high quality, enhanced care to our veterans,” Martorana concluded. “He looks forward to seeing it come to fruition.”

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