tampabay.com

As area grows, doctors realign

Pediatric Health Care Alliance is expanding to meet demand in central Pasco.

By LISA BUIE
Published April 10, 2007


Just a few years ago, it was easy to get worked in at Pediatric Health Care Alliance's Wesley Chapel office.

"Wesley Chapel used to be kind of a sleepy part of town," said Dr. Richard Wilde, one of the 40 physicians who make up the Tampa Bay area group. Anyone who called with a sick child, "we'd just say come on over."

"We've lost that as we have expanded."

The practice, the largest pediatric medical group on the west coast of Florida, is realigning some resources in its 12 offices in response to the growth in central Pasco.

The Wesley Chapel office recently added evening hours, while the Land O'Lakes office is moving next door to a larger building and doubling its physician staff from two to four.

Drs. Wilde and Jacqueline Hartman are transferring from Wesley Chapel to the Land O'Lakes office, which has a Lutz mailing address.

They will join Drs. Robert Buzzeo and Ignatius Tan. The new office is expected to open this month.

Remaining at Wesley Chapel are Drs. Salil Jacob and Susan Carey. The group is now working to fill the two vacancies that will be created by the transfer, said Dr. F. Lane France, who founded the physician-owned alliance in 1997.

Until then, doctors from other areas will rotate to help with the patient load, which has reached about 6,000.

The number of patients at the Land O'Lakes office has also grown steadily and now stands at about 4,000.

"We looked at the numbers, and people wanted to have access to physicians," France said, noting the group also offers weekend appointments.

Central Pasco's gain is south Tampa's loss. The office there will no longer offer evening appointments.

"We just didn't have the growth there," France said.

The expansion in Pasco is yet more evidence of growth in the area, especially of younger families. Six new schools opened in 2006-07 and five new ones will open next year.

District figures show enrollment swelled by 3,500 students in 2004 and though only 1,100 more kids are projected for next year, that's still a lot more strep throats and ear infections.

Wilde, who lives in Wesley Chapel and has been on staff there five years, said he had mixed feelings about the transfer. But he said the fact that he isn't going far will make it possible for regular patients to stay with him.

"If it was 20 miles, I never would have even considered it," he said.

Lisa Buie can be reached at 813 909-4604 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4604. Her e-mail address is buie@sptimes.com.

Fast Facts: 

The changes in a nutshell

- The Wesley Chapel office at 5259 Village Market, off Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, offers evening appointments from 6-9 p.m. weekdays. For information, call (813) 991-9173.

- The Land O'Lakes office will move from 1932 to 1942 Highland Oaks Blvd. For information, call (813) 948-6133. Patients who want to follow Drs. Wilde and Hartman must fill out a registration form. Forms can be obtained in the offices or at www.pedialliance.com.