USF Health College of Nursing and Port Tampa Bay announce new partnership on bringing clinical outreach services to the vulnerable seafaring community

- The USF Health College of Nursing has partnered with Port Tampa Bay to create the first-of-its-kind on-site nurse-managed clinical outreach to provide direct care for the thousands of seafarers whose global maritime routes bring them to Port Tampa Bay port each year.

The collaboration will establish a clinic to offer health and wellness services including spiritual and emotional support to the large number of international maritime workers aboard cargo ships — who are at sea for months at a time — while they are in port in Tampa.

“This exciting partnership expands the college’s mission by addressing the health and wellness needs of this critical workforce,” said USF Health College of Nursing Dean Usha Menon. “Not only will nurse practitioner students receive hands-on clinical training, but the Port will receive immediate access to care and expanded access to USF Health specialty providers.”

The partnership agreement allows the College of Nursing to move forward with establishing an on-site clinic in a building currently leased by the Seafarer’s Ministries. The college also plans to develop a global telehealth component that will allow practitioners to provide follow-up care to patients after they have returned to a cargo ship and are out at sea.

“This agreement will establish the first clinic at a U.S. port that offers in-person and telehealth capabilities to improve the health and wellness of the large number of international seafarers who are arriving in Port Tampa Bay,” said Dr. Susan Perry, former Senior Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs at USF Health’s College of Nursing, who led the development of this concept.

The College of Nursing in partnership with USF Health, the Seafarer’s Center, and the Port Tampa Bay are focused on eventually expanding the site to provide a nurse-managed primary care clinic to serve the entire Port community.

“Port Tampa Bay is honored to partner with the USF College of Nursing to provide this much-needed service to the seafarers who travel through our port. These hardworking men and women often go more than a month before they can leave their ship and attend to their needs. The ability to receive high-quality medical care at our port will be potentially lifesaving,” explained Paul Anderson, Port Tampa Bay President and CEO.

Over the last three years, the College of Nursing has established a strong collaboration with Port Tampa Bay by helping to establish COVID-19 infection control mitigation standards at the Port, offering best practices in a Return to Work webinar for Port employees, collecting needed toiletries for seafarers, and hosting two on-site clinics to administer COVID-19 vaccinations for Port employees and their families.

“This ground-breaking partnership with the Port Tampa Bay will enhance care for a crucial, yet underserved part of our community,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “I want to commend Gina Rathbun, USF Health’s director of physician and community relations, as well as our terrific College of Nursing leadership team. Although the USF Health’s SVP office was not ready three years ago to support Gina’s idea for a similar clinic at the port, her vision has since emerged into this outstanding cooperative agreement between Port Tampa Bay and USF Health’s College of Nursing. Undoubtedly, seafarers and mariners working and arriving in Tampa Bay will receive high-quality and accessible health services, while our nursing students will gain invaluable first-hand clinical experience.”