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Fire guts clinic; no one is injured

The Family Care Center on W Kennedy Boulevard is temporarily moving to another clinic.

By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002

TAMPA -- A Tampa General Hospital clinic was forced to relocate Saturday after an early morning fire rendered the building uninhabitable.

The Family Care Center at 701 W Kennedy Blvd., near the University of Tampa, had fire, smoke and water damage from the blaze, which started just after midnight.

It was extinguished about an hour later, Tampa Fire Rescue officials said.

"The fire department traced it back to a computer . . . maybe a short," said hospital spokesman John Dunn.

The clinic, which was empty when the fire started, closed for the weekend at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

No one was hurt, Dunn said, but the center, which serves about 80 patients a day, must now find a new home.

Patients are being temporarily relocated to another TGH facility, Health Park Ambulatory Care Center on N 30th Street.

"We think the relocation can be accomplished in about a week," Dunn said. "It's going to be a huge effort. We have to move thousands of patient files, most of which were saved."Patients at the center, which operates like a doctor's office and serves Hillsborough County employees, among others, generally come in on an appointment basis only, said officials.

They are being asked to call the center at 875-9005 for information or to reschedule appointments.

Five exam rooms, several offices and various pieces of equipment were damaged in the blaze. The fire heavily damaged half of the building; smoke damaged the other half. Saturday morning, the ceiling had several holes, water damage was evident and the room where the blaze began was gutted.

"It's going to be a while before we can assess everything," Dunn said.

On Monday, the Kennedy clinic's 15-member staff will begin the six-mile move to Health Park, which has its own 85-person staff.

"It's going to be a snug fit over there," Dunn said. "But we're trying to make the best of it. The focus this weekend is to take care of the patients and then we'll start the process of finding a permanent answer."

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