Empath Partners in Care opens sexual health center

ABOVE: APRN Kellie Bonsor, Medical Receptionist Katelyn Rosario and Executive Director Joy Winheim at EPIC’s Sexual Health Center on July 8. Photo by Dylan Todd.

ST. PETERSBURG | Empath Partners in Care (EPIC) has opened its new sexual health center, a freestanding facility specializing in sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment.

EPIC announced its expansion in March, which will allow the organization to serve an estimated 10,000 clients per year. It will do so as a member of Empath Health, which has supported Tampa Bay patients since 1977.

“The EPIC Sexual Health Center focuses on empowering people to stay healthy and make informed decision about their sexual health,” the organization advises. “We do this through comprehensive STI testing and treatment with education in a safe, sex-positive place.”

Located at 300 49th St. S. in St. Petersburg, the center is a fully renovated, 1,800-square-foot home. In addition to STI testing and treatment, the space offers pregnancy testing and referrals, birth control and prophylactics, and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

Patients will also have access to private meetings with EPIC’s “sexpert” to “ask difficult questions and be informed about safer sex, sexual decision making and contraception choices,” EPIC advises.

“This is really an exciting time for us,” Executive Director Joy Winheim shared in March. “This is the first new line of business and these are the first new services that we have offered in a really long time.”

The center’s opening staff includes Kellie Bonsor, APRN; Sexual Health Center Manager Susan Finkelstein and Katelyn Rosario, its medical receptionist.

“I’ve done a lot of work with at-risk communities,” Bonsor says. “I like to be involved in public health and outreach programs and I’ve always wanted to work with LGBTQ community here. There’s not a lot of opportunity for that and I’m beyond excited for this opportunity.”

As nurse practitioner, Bonsor will be responsible for performing physical exams as well as providing testing and treatment referrals. She says the center is a welcome addition to Tampa Bay because of the area’s “lack of availability for people to receive the services in this community that we’re providing.”

Winheim adds that while some insurances and private pay are accepted, the center will utilize a sliding scale for fees. Doing so will allow EPIC to ensure its care is accessible.

“Unfortunately we can’t take every insurance,” she explains, “but we will work with anyone as best as we can to make sure that they can afford services.”

Rosario, 19, hopes to make that clear to students throughout the area who are her age. She says she joined the center’s staff “to be a young person in this type of field, where people can see that, ‘hey, it’s just sex and we need to know about these things.’ If you have questions about sex or if you need help testing, we’ll help you with all of that.”

Services are currently offered Mondays and Tuesdays from 8 a.m.-Noon and 1-5 p.m.; Wednesdays from 8 a.m.-Noon; Thursdays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-8 p.m.; Fridays from 8 a.m.-Noon and 1-5 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The center is closed on Sundays.

For more information or to make an appointment, visit IfYouSex.org, call 727-328-6420 and read more on EPIC’s social media channels.

You can also view Watermark’s photos of the center below.

Photos by Dylan Todd.

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