ST. FRANCISVILLE, LA (WAFB) - The countdown is on for the new West Feliciana Hospital to open its doors in St. Francisville. The hospital will begin accepting patients Wednesday, August 30, but excitement there is already building.
"It has been a long time in the making and a lot of people are responsible for getting to where we are today," said CEO, Lee Chastant.
One of the first of its kind built in a rural area in roughly a decade, Chastant calls the 53,000 square foot facility a fitting way to give back to the community.
"We surveyed our patients early on, way before we even started designing, and there's one thing that came out loud and clear. One is that we wanted to get services in our community without having to drive to Baton Rouge and that's where the start was and hopefully we deliver," said Chastant.
From emergency to outpatient services, the new hospital has just about everything you can imagine. Chastant says it will truly be a game changer for the people who live in and around the area.
A handful of stakeholders, along with US Senator Bill Cassidy, toured the $28 million operation Tuesday afternoon. Cassidy praises the hospital for answering a definite need in West Feliciana Parish. "Of course for the folks in West Feliciana it's fantastic, but it also provides a model of what other rural hospitals can potentially look towards," Cassidy added.
Cassidy says another need that must be answered is healthcare reform. Despite a series of recent defeats, he and a handful of other Republicans are busy working on yet another plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.
"We're trying to come up with a replacement policy which returns power to the patient and giving states a flexible block gr ant, allowing them to come up with the solutions that work best for the people of that state," said Cassidy.
He has called his plan a last ditch effort to undo the signature policy of the Obama administration, but believes if strategic, they will be able to get something pushed through Congress.
WAFB's Scottie Hunter asked Cassidy if he supports President Trump's threats to end subsidies for insurance companies if there is not a successful effort to repeal and replace the legislation. "I think we have to focus on decreasing premiums so in the short term. I think we should do whatever we need to do to stabilize the individual market, but then long term, kind of in the next two to three year period, replace it with something which is more sustainable," Cassidy replied.
While the fight over healthcare reform continues, Cassidy says he remains focused on doing what he feels is best for the people he represents.
"Hopefully we're successful," Cassidy added.