There are many health care services in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater for military, civilians and veterans, though implementation of the Affordable Care Act has changed established insurance options. Florida chose not to set up a state-based health insurance exchange marketplace, so the federal government has assumed full responsibility for the exchanges in Florida. Visit www.healthcare.gov for information on open enrollment for health care coverage under the national Affordable Care Act.
See the Military Buyer’s Guide tab in this guide to connect with local hospitals and medical centers, health care centers and health care providers.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE CLINICS AND RESOURCES
A community health center or clinic is customarily the place to go for those who have no health insurance or have limited income or ability to pay medical fees. Such clinics accept most insurance and provide affordable, comprehensive health care by well-trained, professional staff. They also serve those who are uninsured and underinsured, and most are open to making sliding scale payment arrangements based on income and family size.
For a list of community health centers in the St. Petersburg and Tampa area, visit the website for Community Health Centers of Pinellas and Tampa Family Health Centers (www.fachc.org ).
Florida Association of Community Health Centers
2340 Hansen Lane
Tallahassee, FL 32301 850-942-1822
The Florida Association of Community Health Centers is the leading state advocate for community-based health care programs.
Community Health Centers of Pinellas
1344 22nd St. S
St. Petersburg, FL 33712 727-824-8181
Community Health Centers of Pinellas provides affordable, quality primary health care to Pinellas County residents. Services include family practice, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and dental care. The group operates nine primary care centers, with locations in Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Dunedin and Tarpon Springs. To see the full list of locations, visit www.chcpinellas.org/locations.htm.
Pinellas County Health & Community Services
2189 Cleveland St., Suite 230
Clearwater, FL 33765 727-464-4200
647 First Ave. N
St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-464-4200
Pinellas County Health & Community Services has information on affordable health and dental care for Pinellas County residents. Pinellas County has four medical homes and a mobile medical unit for residents who qualify for care. Medical homes provide wellness and prevention services, pharmacy services, mental health and substance abuse services, and more.
Suncoast Community Health Centers
313 S. Lakewood Drive
Brandon, FL 33511 813-653-6100
Suncoast Community Health Centers provides primary health care, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Services include family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, dental care, immunizations, family planning, health education and more. Suncoast Community Health Centers operates centers in Tampa, Brandon, Plant City and other locations, with mobile dental and medical services available as well. For a full list of health center locations, visit the Suncoast Community Health Centers listings at http://suncoast-chc.org/locations.
Tampa Family Health Centers
302 W. Fletcher Ave., Second Floor
Tampa, FL 33612 803-866-0930
Tampa Family Health Centers provides affordable health care to the Tampa Bay community. Services include routine checkups, immunizations, family planning, pediatrics, dental care, behavioral health care and more. Tampa Family Health Centers has 16 locations, plus mobile medical and dental units; visit their website to search for a location near you.
The Florida Dental Association website, www.floridadental.org, is a useful place to start in finding a dentist. Select “Public” from the home page, then click on “Find an FDA Member Dentist in Your Area” and search by location, specialty or name. You can also seek referrals from people you know who’ve had dental care in the area, and it can be prudent to check online reviews of dentists you are considering.
Consider the following to find the best dentist for your needs.
- Are the office hours convenient for your schedule?
- Is the dental office close to your home or office?
- How are dental emergencies handled?
- Does the office appear to be clean and well organized?
- Is the staff helpful and friendly?
- What are the financial policies and how is insurance handled?
A good relationship with your dentist is essential to good oral health care, so take your time and choose one that you and your family feel comfortable with.
The Florida Department of Health can give you tips for oral health and low-cost dental care. Visit www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/community-health/dental-health for more information.
FINDING A LOCAL DOCTOR
It’s important to find a health care provider before an urgent medical need arises. Building trust with a health care provider takes time, so don’t wait until a family member is ill to find a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider.
Before arriving at your new assignment, check the Florida Board of Medicine’s online directory: Go to www.flboardofmedicine.gov and select “Lookup — Verify a License.” You can browse for a provider by type or by location. That should give you an idea of local medical practitioners as well as where you might need to go for specialized care.
Personal referrals from friends or other medical personnel can add to your options.
You can check a doctor’s certification at the American Board of Medical Specialties at www.abms.org. To see if anyone has registered a complaint or taken disciplinary action against the doctor, visit the Florida Board of Medicine at www.flboardofmedicine.gov or call 850-488-0595. When you have selected a health care provider, consider the following.
- When you scheduled your appointment, was the receptionist friendly, prompt and professional? Did he or she take time to answer your questions? Were you left on hold too long?
- When you arrived for your appointment, were you greeted promptly? Was the reception area clean and comfortable? Was the staff friendly and willing to answer your questions?
- Did you have to wait long in the exam room before the doctor arrived? Was the exam room orderly and clean, with a chair for a family member?
- When the doctor arrived and introduced himself or herself, did he or she seem rushed or tired? Did you get a good first impression?
- During the consultation, did nurses or assistants pop in and out? Did the doctor seem caring, compassionate and sympathetic to your concerns? Did you feel comfortable revealing personal information? Did the doctor rush through the meeting?
Treat finding a doctor as seriously as looking for a new job or a new home. You want to be comfortable with the person who will see you while you are most vulnerable.