Hospital consultants still reviewing site, plan decisions

Deidre Cruse, Governmental Reporter

A national firm of hospital consultants investigating the feasibility and location of a new Iberville Parish hospital should have a final report by January, Iberville Chief Administrative Officer Edward A. “Lucky” Songy said Monday.

Parish officials met briefly last week with representatives of Stroudwater & Associates after they met with the Louisiana Recovery Authority in Baton Rouge and continued interviewing Iberville residents, including doctors, about a location for the new hospital.

“There's nothing official,” Songy said. “We discussed some preliminary things.”

In May, the Iberville Parish Council voted to shift $21.6 million of the parish's Hurricane Gustav disaster recovery money to the construction of a small new hospital with an emergency room in the Plaquemine area.

The council since hired GHA Architects to design a proposed 15-25-bed hospital, and Stroudwater as consultants to investigate whether the community could support such a hospital and select a site for it. If the hospital is built, the council, with advice from experts, would hire a hospital administrator.

Iberville has been without a hospital for two and a half years when River West Medical Center closed its doors.

Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso Jr. announced the consultants' visit to the Parish Council last week in his monthly report.

He also announced that engineers Forte and Tablada would have a report on the cost of repairs, reductions in weight limits or closure of every bridge in the parish.

The parish does not, for example, have $2 million to repair the bridge at Ramah, the parish president said.

At last week's meeting, the Parish Council set the posted weight limits on a dozen bridges based on the recommendations of Fort and Tablada, and would consider additional ones next year.

“There are places in the parish where people are not complying,” Ourso said. In one case, at Musson Bridge at the Atchafalaya levee, “they're pulling up the signs and throwing them in the canal.”

In other action last week, the council authorized Sheriff Brent Allain to use a 100- by 140-foot piece of property at the C. M. “Mike” Zito Multipurpose Center to construct a equipment storage facility to house some $2.5 million in equipment.

Ourso said the building would match the style of the Zito Center, and the land returned to the parish if the sheriff's office stopped using the area.