Representatives of the Ochsner Health System assured members of the Iberville Chamber of Commerce on Thursday that the medical company would strive to staff the parish’s $20 million medical facility, under construction, from a pool of qualified candidates who already call Iberville Parish home.

It was news that received nods of approval from attendees of the Chamber’s Business over Breakfast presentation who questioned Ochsner officials about the hiring plans for the new medical complex.

Ochsner representatives were invited by the Chamber to give community stakeholders and business leaders an update on the 43,000-square-foot medical complex that has been under construction since June 2012 on a 27-acre site off La. 1 near Senator Gay Boulevard.

“Our goal is to have the facility reflect the community,” Ochsner Chief Nursing and Chief Operating Officer Dawn Pevey said Thursday. “We fully anticipate that 80 percent of the people staffed at the facility will be from the local area. A lot of our current employees have been telling us, ‘Please let me work closer to home. I don’t want to drive across the river every day.’ ”

Pevey said construction on the facility is about 60 percent complete with a projected opening date of Dec. 1.

“The contractors have been doing a really good job keeping on track with that date despite rain delays,” she said.

Ochsner will hire up to 60 employees to staff the facility. Pevey said available positions will be posted between now and September.

Ochsner will be accepting applications online only via its website, she said.

Construction of the medical facility in Iberville Parish is being facilitated through a partnership between the parish, which is funding the project, and Ochsner, which will manage the medical complex.

The parish is utilizing its share of $22 million in hurricane recovery funds from the Louisiana Office of Community Development to build the facility.

The parish has been without a hospital since 2008, after River West Medical Center was forced to close because it was severely damaged during Hurricane Gustav.

Iberville Parish residents have been forced to seek hospital services outside of the parish since then.

Officials said Thursday that the new medical complex will serve as a “one-stop shop” for the parish’s medical needs.

The facility, designed by Grace & Hebert Architects, 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 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, two rotating specialists on site at the clinic and a free-standing emergency center that officials said will be able to immediately treat any emergency needs of the parish’s many chemical and industrial plants.

The complex also will have a helipad with the capacity to land large aircraft such as military helicopters during emergencies.

Officials anticipate serving between 10,000 to 12,000 patients annually in its ER facility.

“Anything you’re going to urgent care now for, we’ll be able to provide. As the need grows in the community, we’ll expand the services,” said Scott Mabry, chief operating officer for outpatient clinical services. “The facility is going to have a very modern look. Hopefully you’ll get the feel you’re in a hotel lobby instead of a medical facility.”