PLAQUEMINE, LA — Thousands of people in Iberville Parish will now have access to a hospital close to home. It's been in the works for four years, and local officials have been working to get the $20 million they need to build it.
Iberville Parish residents have had to cross the Mississippi River Bridge, and fight Baton Rouge traffic to get to a hospital. By the end of next year, they will have a hospital closer to home.
Thelma Hawkins has been bringing her husband to Baton Rouge to receive medical care for seven years. She said having a hospital so close to home will change her life.
"It has been in my prayers to always have a clinic or something close that we could go to and he wouldn't have to go to Baton Rouge. He goes twice a week he does blood work for his treatment for the next day," Hawkins said. "We wouldn't have to go to Baton Rouge. We could walk down here for five minutes and we're here."
Hawkins said this hospital will change her neighbors' lives as well.
"A lot of people don't have transportation. They don't have a way to get to Baton Rouge," Hawkins said. "This will be easier for them to get to a clinic to get some help, and I think it's going to help each of us."
Caroline Stassi has been fighting to get a hospital to Iberville Parish. As a nurse, she said it will be convenient, but more importantly, it will save lives.
"In healthcare, we do call it the 'golden hour.' Many times when people are ill and they do not have access to advanced care in that time frame, it could be the difference of life and death. So this means saving lives for Iberville Parish," Stassi said."I can't thank Mitchell Ourso and his counsel enough for working so hard, and for taking this so seriously, and for knowing that this is such an important part of the welfare of our parish."
Iberville Parish President Mitchell Ourso has worked with this project since day one. He said when this hospital opens, the fight will have paid off.
"I had a big part in it, and I had a lot of people with me who had a big part in it. So, I can't thank them enough. Somebody had to carry the torch. I was just blessed by the good people of Iberville Parish that put me in this position to carry the torch for them," Ourso said. "I owe these people a lot of gratitude for believing in our name for years. This was well well deserved this facility here for our people in Iberville Parish."
Right now, construction crews are making the final preparations to start building the hospital. They said it should be up and running by the end of next year.