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Sabal Park Clinic – Now Serving Patient Number One

Clinic Commander and Timothy Kusko
Timothy Kusko and Clinic Flight Commander, Air Force Lt. Col. Lakisha Albertie at the Sabal Park Clinic.

Connecting Veterans to the best health care as soon as possible compelled Tampa VA to partner with MacDill AFB’s 6th Medical Group to begin delivering outpatient services at Sabal Park Clinic in South Tampa, recently.

Sabal Park Clinic is situated between Riverview and Tampa VA’s Primary Clinic Annex. The South Hillsborough Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Riverview has seen a surge of new patients since its opening and this novel partnership with the Department of Defense was forged to take in more Veterans and alleviate appointment wait times.

“We’ve been working on this partnership since August 2023 to provide care to a footprint of patients between the SoHi CBOC location and the main campus at Tampa VA,” said Nurse Manager, Timothy Kusko who works at the new location.

“We are excited for this one-of-a-kind venture with the 6th Medical Group,” said Dr. Brian Zilka, Tampa VA’s Associate Chief of Staff for Ambulatory Care. “They have been a gracious host to us, and we look forward to more partnering with them in the future,” said Zilka.

“Sabal Park is also an actively operating DoD clinic, so there is an interest in the collaborative effort between VA and DoD staff,” said Kusko.

The VA’s DoD counterpart is led by Air Force Lt. Col. Lakisha Albertie, AF Flight Commander sees the partnership as a total success.

“We’re working with great individuals from the VA. We’ve built this relationship to have the right people here to provide a one-stop-shop connecting Veterans with care. This is how we can make this work for Veterans,” she said.

“The goal is to provide VA health services to Veterans closer to where they live and to increase the number of Veterans initially served to 1,200 annually,” said Kusko. The Clinic will have the capacity to serve up to 3,600 Veterans.

Kusko endeavors to have the goal accomplished in the next 19 months. Services for Veterans will include primary care, mental health, dietary, social work and pharmacy.

Currently, the Clinic has six exam rooms and two consult rooms and will accommodate two-three “teamlets.” 

A teamlet consists of a provider, a licensed practical nurse, resident assistant, an advanced medical support assistant and a pharmacist. “We have one PACT teamlet in place with plans to grow over time,” said Kusko.

Now the steady flow of patients begins and the Clinic will gradually increase its Veteran patient rosters filling the overflow of South Hillsborough County Veterans and lessening the time Veterans wait for appointments.

“As more Veterans join the rolls of Tampa VA, the main focus of growth at Sabal Park Clinic is to provide a convenient location for Veterans who live in the vicinity of South Hillsborough County,” said Kusko. 

The Clinic reached its milestone of caring for the first patient in the second week of February. 

“The VA is a good place for Veterans who’ve served in combat and for non-combat Veterans to get care,” said former Army Soldier Wesley Dewey, the first Tampa VA patient seen at the Sabal Park Clinic.

Dewey was a mechanic and chemical decontamination expert during the Persian Gulf War. He recently moved to Tampa from Tennessee. 

“My visit was wonderful. They were very professional, and the doctor was nice,” said Dewey.

“If I were still in the market, I’d get a job there,” he said.

The clinic now has a total of seven nursing staff, three providers, three health administration services staff, and two lab personnel.

“We will have lab offerings here in the near future, with consult support for Pharmacy, Nutrition and Food Service, and Social Work next,” said Kusko. 

An official Grand Opening ceremony is planned for the near future. Stay tuned.