USF College of Nursing and Port Tampa Bay team up for clinic

Port Tampa Bay and the University of South Florida College of Nursing have partnered on a project to bring a primary care clinic to the harbor – the first of its kind in the United States

What would you like to know

  • USF College of Nursing and Port Tampa Bay partner to create marine health clinic
  • University says clinic will be first of its kind in a U.S. port
  • It will be located in the marine pole of the port and could be operational in a year or a year and a half.
  • The clinic will provide primary and urgent care

“There is no primary care clinic or emergency care clinic at a port in the country,” said Dr. Tracey Taylor, senior associate dean of USF College of Nursing for academic affairs and educational innovation. “It was very shocking to me, and actually very surprising because I understand how important the support is, how much the industry is here.”

Taylor said the port and the college have worked together in the past, and it’s a school’s way of thinking nurses can make a difference. The project received an internal grant of $ 35,000 funded by alumni. This will serve to initiate a phased approach to get the clinic up and running. According to Taylor, the recently completed first phase involved an evaluation year that included a return-to-work webinar and infection control efforts. She said Phase 2 is only just beginning and will involve health fairs and ship awareness activities. On June 30, faculty and staff from nursing schools boarded ships to deliver about two dozen COVID-19 vaccines to crew members.

Chaquera Kent, a student at USF College of Nursing (second from right) and Senior Associate Dean of Alumni, Community and Global Engagement, pose with the Captain (third from left) of the ‘one of the ships where they vaccinated crew members on June 30, 2021. (Spectrum News / Sarah Blazonis)

“We spoke to one of the captains of one of the ships, and he was telling us how he had been traveling for almost eight months at this point,” said Chaquera Kent, a final semester student in the doctoral program at the nursing school. . “Finally, getting his men vaccinated was such a burden on his shoulders.”

“We have vaccinated men who did not have visas and who could not get off the ship,” said Denise Maguire, senior associate dean of the College of Nursing for alumni, community and world engagement. “What they told us, especially the captains, was that they were desperate to get their men vaccinated and they were glad their men wanted to get vaccinated, but they just didn’t have access to it. to that.”

“Vaccines are the main concern, but it is more than the health care of seafarers,” said Eric White, inspector for the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

White said it was difficult to say what kind of demand the clinic might see once it is fully operational, as there is no comparable service there. He said securing healthcare while working on a freighter for weeks or months at a time is definitely a challenge.

“A great example we have, I guess it was late last year, maybe it was early this year. We had a case of TB on a ship,” White said. . “It was a ship calling in Houston, Mobile, then Tampa. So the concerned sailor went to the Houston hospital. With all the ships’ schedules and everything else, they couldn’t control. the rest of the crew until they got to Tampa. So they probably went a week without being able to screen the rest of the crew for TB. “

Thousands of sailors from around the world pass through Port Tampa Bay every year. Taylor said another goal is to be able to continue to track them, even after they leave Earth, through telehealth.

“The ships are now equipped, most of them have the capability to do telehealth,” Taylor said. “We still have to, again, work on the logistics for this because there are international waters and things that we have to make sure we are handling in a proper way, and we absolutely would. But the hope is, and the vision is, that would be a big part of the model, that we could provide these services. ”

Taylor said additional funding is needed and it will likely take a year or more before the clinic is fully operational, but the hope is that it will serve as a model for ports across the country and around the world.

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