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A nurse-run clinic at Port Tampa Bay touts itself as the first of its kind

Three men and a woman stand in front of a USF health sign as they cut a long green banner with scissors.
Christy Lear
USF Health
Wade Elliott, Charly Lockwood, Usha Menon, and Steve Finnesy cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new USF College of Nursing Port of Tampa Seafarers Center Clinic.

The University of South Florida College of Nursing Port of Tampa Seafarers Center Clinic opened last month to serve maritime workers, including international workers aboard cargo and cruise ships.

A new clinic at Port Tampa Bay is being touted as the first nurse-managed clinic in the world at a port.

The University of South Florida's College of Nursing will provide primary health services to Port Tampa Bay’s maritime community, as well as international workers aboard cargo and cruise ships.

Many of the seafarers come from impoverished countries and are unable to access reliable health care.

Nurse practitioners are staffing the 1,200-square-foot clinic and providing primary care services like routine physicals, vision and hearing screenings, chronic disease management, vaccinations, and more.

In March 2020, under a new Florida law, nurse practitioners were granted the ability to independently practice family medicine, general pediatrics, and general internal medicine.

Duellyn Pandis, director of the USF College of Nursing Port of Tampa Seafarers Center Clinic on Shoreline Avenue in Tampa, said the facility will fill a gap in health care for workers often exposed to dangerous conditions.

“This type of environment, you can imagine that it's set up for accidents to happen. There’s a lot of moving pieces and parts in this industry,” Pandis said.

“[Before the clinic] if accidents were to happen, or they show up sick, or they come to work and then they start feeling bad, they have to leave the restricted area and go at least 40 minutes away to a facility to get evaluated."

While the clinic is not set up for urgent or emergency care, Pandis said nurses there can help stabilize patients until an ambulance arrives.

“We can do a triage and determine if it's something that we can take care of here. And if not, then we'll call EMS, we'll stay with them try to get them stable," Pandis said.

The clinic will also serve as a training site for nursing students.

“Seafarers are the world’s essential workers and they keep our local and regional economy functioning,” Paul Anderson, president and CEO of Port Tampa Bay, said in a news release.

“We are so grateful to the USF Health College of Nursing for their partnership and the resources they bring to these deserving workers.”

The clinic, in partnerhsip with Port Tampa Bay and Tampa Port Ministries/Tampa Seafarers Center, is still accepting applications for two part-time nurse practitioners, and a patient care associate.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.