Iberville Parish and Ochsner Health System officials are gearing up to unwrap the bow on a $22 million, publicly funded medical complex.

They plan to give the public an opportunity for a sneak peek inside next week before the doors to the 43,000-square-foot facility open Jan. 19 to serve its first patients.

The parish has been without a local hospital since 2008, when River West Medical Center closed after suffering severe damage in Hurricane Gustav, and local officials have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the new medical complex.

For the past five years, Iberville Parish residents were often forced to cross the Mississippi River bridge to find health care treatment in East Baton Rouge Parish. It wasn’t just inconvenient but posed risks for people in need of emergency care who might have trouble getting across the river during peak traffic times.

To solve that problem, parish leaders dedicated $22 million in hurricane recovery funds toward building a new facility — a project that has been in the works since 2010.

“This facility will save lives and is a first-class medical complex that Iberville residents can be proud of,” Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso said in a news release announcing plans for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility.

“I am very proud. The results of this accomplishment is that our people in Iberville will have much deserved medical care at home for years to come,” Ourso said.

The project was a major undertaking for the parish as officials struggled to meet extensive federal and state requirements for health care facilities and the building’s complex construction and design.

The facility originally had a Dec. 1 opening date, but Ourso informed the Parish Council in November that he wasn’t pleased with some of the building’s “craftsmanship.” He said he wanted to make sure contractors addressed those issues before signing off on the facility’s completion.

The medical complex, 25455 La. 1 South in Plaquemine, will be managed by Ochsner, which made its first baby steps into the parish in 2013 when it opened a small health clinic providing prenatal care and other services for women.

That clinic will be absorbed into the new facility, which will also feature 24 patient exam rooms; helipad access; radiology including X-ray, CAT scans, and MRI; lab facilities; and a free-standing emergency center.

Ochsner spokeswoman Stephanie Friedrich said Friday that the 24/7 emergency department in the medical complex would “open shortly” after Jan. 19.

On the day of the grand opening, she said Ochsner’s rotating specialists will be on hand to provide primary care and OB-GYN services. Patients can call (225) 761-5200 to set up appointments.

“It is clear the community is very supportive and ready for more health care services in the parish,” Friedrich wrote in an email on Friday, noting that Ochsner has been engaged in multiple community events over the last several years.

Friedrich said the facility will boast a staff of approximately 80 to 90 people, including health care providers.

Parish officials are hosting the ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 16. Ochsner Health System employees will be on hand that day to give tours of the facility to the community before the Jan. 19 opening.

The event is free and open to the public.

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.