Construction on schedule for Iberville hospital

Construction on Iberville Parish’s $20 million medical facility is nearly 30 percent complete, with parish officials confident residents can once again obtain local hospital and clinic care by winter 2014.

“Everything is on schedule for that completion date,” said Keith Keller, vice president of operations and project manager at Lincoln Builders. “The only challenge we’ve faced (in 2013) is an abnormal amount of wet weather.”

Construction on the 43,000-square-foot medical complex kicked off in June on a 27-acre site off La. 1 near Senator Gay Boulevard.

The facility, designed by Grace & Hebert Architects and to be operated by Ochsner Health System, will feature 24 patient exam/procedure rooms, two of which will be trauma rooms, and lab and radiology services that will include X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound and mammography.

The complex will have seven health care providers, including three primary care physicians, a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant, an OB-GYN or certified nurse midwife, two rotating specialists on site at the clinic and a free-standing emergency center.

The complex also will have a helipad with the capacity to land large aircraft such as military helicopters during emergencies.

The parish is utilizing its share of $22 million in hurricane recovery funds from the Louisiana Office of Community Development to build the facility.

The parish has been without a hospital since 2008, after River West Medical Center was forced to close because it was severely damaged during Hurricane Gustav.

Iberville Parish residents have been forced to seek hospital services outside of the parish since then.

“We’re going to have a fine medical facility,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said. “We’ve been blessed with how this thing is coming together; it’s moving along.”

Keller said it has taken an enormous amount of coordination among the project’s architects, engineers and consultants to maintain the construction timeline.

Third-party engineers are reviewing every phase of the building process to ensure the complex’s original design is being carried out, he said.

“We’re trying to make sure we have the best building we can for the citizens of Iberville Parish,” Keller said. “We’re building in the middle of an agriculture field so we had to make sure we had a solid foundation in place. We put over 870 hybrid timber/concrete pilings in the ground to support the building. That was needed for the type of soil conditions we have out there.”

Ochsner got a tiny glimpse of the parish’s need for the medical complex after opening a women’s health and prenatal care clinic in March.

That clinic, on Plaza Drive in Plaquemine, will be absorbed into the medical complex once it’s complete.

“We’ve been pleased with the services we’re providing there (and) we’ve seen a great number of patients there. But the clinic provides women’s services only,” said Dawn Pevey-Mauk, chief nursing officer and chief operating officer for Ochsner. “We’re just meeting a small need of the community today. The medical complex will meet the needs of the entire community.”