WEST FELICIANA, LA (WAFB) - Hospital staff and leaders in West Feliciana Parish broke ground Wednesday on a new state-of-the-art facility.
The new West Feliciana Parish Hospital comes with a $27 million price tag. It's funded using $2 million in tax dollars and $25 million in a direct loan from U.S.D.A. Rural Development Community program fund. The program helps rural areas maintain the same quality of life as larger places.
Construction is expected to be complete in 14 months by spring 2017.
"There's a lot more to offer today in medicine, but it's time sensitive," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, the state medical director. "So having something nearby can be lifesaving."
Guidry said he worked at the hospital 35 years ago, and he thought it was getting old.
As it currently stands, patients in West Feliciana Parish are sent to hospitals in Baton Rouge for certain procedures such as CT scans or MRIs because the facility there does not have the proper equipment.
The parish president said that translates into them losing patients.
But once the new hospital is complete, they will be able to handle those procedures.
The hospital CEO, Lee Chastant, said for years patients have asked when those services would be made available. He said not only is there a need, but not everyone has transportation to those other hospitals, in turn creating another problem.
Currently the hospital has six primary care doctors. The hope is that more physicians and specialists will be attracted to where the hospital is located, in St. Francisville directly behind the old hospital, to provide their service.
Dr. Nnamdi Nwabuez has practiced at the hospital for 16 years. He said he's excited about the opportunity to keep their patients close and to attract younger patients.
They say having this level of care is important especially because the area is so rural.
The new hospital will also feature six emergency exam rooms plus two trauma rooms.
While the current hospital is behind, parish leaders say they are advanced in other areas. For example, they say they are the only parish in the state where it does not cost people if they need to be air lifted to a facility outside the parish for care. They say the average cost is $24,000, but in West Feliciana the cost is covered.