New parish hospital one step closer to construction

Published 12:44 am Tuesday, April 25, 2017


VIDALIA — Concordia Parish Police Jury members in a split vote Monday, moved the parish one step closer to building a new hospital between Ridgecrest and Ferriday.

Since 2014, discussions have been ongoing about building a new or making significant renovations to parish-owned Riverland Medical Center, and Monday’s 5-4 split vote will bring the hospital board to the next step.

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Jurors approved the Hospital Service District acquiring an amount not to exceed $36 million in Hospital Revenue Bonds for a new building to be located at 6569 U.S. 84,

Hospital Board of Trustees Chair Jim Graves has said the estimated $35 million to build the hospital would require backing by the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. The program would reimburse payments the hospital district makes at the end of the year 101 percent.

The resolution lists that neither taxpayers of Concordia Parish nor the police jury would be liable for the payment on the bonds.

Ferriday Mayor Sherrie Jacobs said she was disappointed in the police jury’s vote, which would move the hospital out of Ferriday town limits.

“Quite naturally, I want the hospital to stay where it is,” Jacobs said. “There is plenty of land to build a new facility right there.

“My citizens are the ones who really use that hospital, and they want it to stay where it is. So, I join my people in support of it staying in Ferriday.”

The vote ultimately required Jury President Whest Shirley to break the tie, with jurors Adam Probst, Red Tiffee, Jimmy Wilkinson and Jimmy Jernigan voting yes along with him.

Carey Cook, Joseph Parker, Willie Dunbar and Jerry Beatty voted no.

Cook, Parker and Dunbar were all favorable of building a new hospital, however they were opposed to purchasing property when the parish already owns land behind the current building. Beatty offered no comment.

Wilkinson mentioned that the old hospital could potentially attract clients, where Ferriday could benefit from taxes, as no one now receives taxes from Riverland.

“It is a parish-wide hospital,” he said. “We are keeping it in the parish. I am for moving the parish forward and building a new hospital.”

Parker said whether you build it in the old location or a new, the old building would still be available for lease.

Jernigan said in the beginning, he was against moving Riverland Medical Center, but had come around by sitting in on hospital board meetings. Jernigan said he would rather see the hospital front and center on U.S. 84 than obscured on the land the jury owns.

“If you put the hospital in the back where we have 35 acres, it would be hidden by the building in front of it,” Jernigan said. “I am for moving it. I think more people will come. I think it will attract more doctors. … I think it will do better on the highway.”

Parker said since the beginning he has been for building a new hospital, he just does not support moving it out of Ferriday.

“It’s a 50-year old building,” Parker said. “I knew we’d have to build a new facility. The new hospital needs to be in Ferriday.”

Shirley, in breaking the tie, said he could see a new hospital helping the area outside Ferriday town limits develop.

“I can see a little strip mall next to it, maybe a couple new restaurants,” Shirley said. “I can see other new industries maybe moving to the other side. That is why I cast my yes vote.”

The land the hospital would be built on is owned by Dan Renfro. The cost would be no more than $27,500 per acre, or approximately $550,000.

The land is within the Ferriday zip code, 71334.