PLAQUEMINE — Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso has released architectural renderings of the parish’s $22 million medical facility.
The parish has been without a hospital since 2008, when River West Medical Center closed because it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Gustav.
Ourso said Thursday the loss has forced residents with major medical issues to seek treatment at medical centers in the Baton Rouge area.
The loss also has increased the burden on the parish’s contracted ambulatory service with Acadian Ambulance, he said.
“(EMTs) were having to transport people farther, which placed a burden on our contract price with them,” Ourso said. “Acadian has a building here that they use to house employees, and I heard people were driving up to it almost using it as an emergency facility.”
The new 43,000-square-foot medical center, being designed by Grace & Hebert Architects and to be operated by Ochsner Health System, is being built on 27 acres off La. 1 near Senator Gay Boulevard in Plaquemine.
Ourso said the parish will enter into a lease agreement with Ochsner to use the complex, which will feature a free-standing emergency center.
“This has been a complicated and difficult project involving government agencies and a public-private partnership, but we have persevered in order to provide Iberville residents with the medical services they need and deserve,” Ourso said in a news release last week.
Ochsner Baton Rouge’s interim Chief Executive Officer Eric McMillen said Friday the health care provider’s interest in the project was piqued by Iberville’s need for emergency services.
“We know that patients don’t like to travel for their services, and this is an area we aren’t currently in, so this provided a good opportunity for us to work together with (Iberville) to put something together,” McMillen said.
Ochsner Health System owns and operates seven hospitals and more than 38 health centers throughout the state.
The Iberville medical complex 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 news release states.
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 and two rotating specialists on site at the clinic, according to the release.
“We have worked closely with parish officials to determine the needs of the area and how best to serve them,” Ochsner Baton Rouge Chief Nursing Officer Dawn Pevey Mauk said. “For example, because of its proximity to area plants, we will have decontamination and emergency supplies readily available should they be needed.”
Mauk said the complex also will have a helipad with the capacity to land large aircraft such as military helicopters during emergency situations.
And like the emergency room at its medical center in Baton Rouge, McMillen said Friday, the Iberville complex will use the company’s Q-track system, which should keep wait times low for patients.
McMillen said Ochsner anticipates serving between 10,000 and 12,000 patients a year in the facility’s emergency department.
The parish is using its $22 million share of Hurricane Gustav recovery money from the Louisiana Office of Community Development to finance the project, Ourso said.
The medical facility will be outfitted through a $3 million state appropriation, Ourso said.
Ourso said he hopes to begin advertising for construction bids before the end of the year, pending approval from the Office of Community Development.
Ourso said officials are shooting for a projected completion date around the first quarter of 2014.
“The name Ochsner is going to show some stability and strength for this region,” he said. “And they’re going to have one of the finest facilities to operate out of.”