Iberville Parish officials were right six months ago in saying residents were eager to have the new Ochsner Medical Complex in the parish.

Since opening in January, the $22 million medical complex is seeing nearly double the daily traffic officials had projected would visit its free-standing emergency center and is seeing increased traffic at the facility’s clinic offerings, said Eric McMillen, CEO of Ochsner’s Baton Rouge region.

“To date, we are ahead of budget with emergency department volume,” McMillen said in an email. “We projected to see roughly 25 patients per day and are averaging about 40 patients per day.”

McMillen said the medical complex, 25455 La. 1 South, Plaquemine, also has seen “several hundred clinic visits” each month.

“And we continue on an upward trend,” he added.

The parish was without a local hospital since 2008, when River West Medical Center closed after sustaining severe damage in Hurricane Gustav.

Up until January, Iberville Parish residents were often forced to cross the Mississippi River bridge to East Baton Rouge Parish to find health care treatment.

To solve that problem, parish leaders dedicated $22 million in hurricane recovery funds toward building a new medical center and partnered with Ochsner to manage it.

Justin Cox, operations manager for Acadian Ambulance’s capital district, said the medical complex has had a significant impact on the clinical outcome of their patients.

“Being able to transport a patient now to an emergency department with an emergency physician within a few minutes versus having to travel to Baton Rouge over an hour at times because the traffic is bad in itself has improved patient outcomes,” Cox said.

“The other positive impact of this facility is the quick turnaround on ambulance availability,” he said. “Since the ambulance is delivering the patient locally, the ambulance is available immediately for the next call.”

In addition to 22 patient exam rooms, the Ochsner complex offers general surgery; on-site lab services, including cardiology testing; heart and vascular services; radiology services, including X-ray, CT scan, ultrasound and mammography; primary care; and urology.

“We’re looking to put other providers in the clinic space and plan to increase our rotating specialists in the near future,” McMillen said.

Iberville Parish Coroner James Grace called Ochsner’s presence in the community a godsend for his office’s handling of the mentally ill.

“Many of the … folks that get incapacitated and need to transported to an emergency room come from economically challenged families, and they were having trouble getting across the river to Our Lady of the Lake, where they were often told the hospital didn’t have any room to treat them,” Grace said. “The facility gives a little bit of security to the entire community.”

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