Temporary medical services to return to Cameron Parish; new hospital to replace storm-damaged facility

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:20 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 7:14 PM CDT
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CREOLE, La. (KPLC) - Three years after Hurricane Laura, residents have seen little progress to the damaged South Cameron Memorial Hospital. Residents have been left without emergency services.

“It [the hospital] saved my husband’s life,” Grand Chenier resident Michaeil Booth said.

Booth said South Cameron Memorial Hospital is to thank for her husband still being alive.

The parish has been without that hospital for three years, leaving residents wondering what happens if they’re in an emergency.

“I mean, to go to Memorial Hospital or St. Patrick you are looking at an hour to an hour and a half drive,” Booth said.

In March, Cameron District Attorney Tom Barrett explained they were trying to overcome several obstacles in order to begin repairs. In addition to the hurricane damage, the hospital’s operating company abruptly resigned, and the previous hospital board had tried to repair the hospital instead of replacing it which led to added delays.

“This board is left to pick up the pieces and move forward, and they’re doing that,” says Barrett.

But today, the hospital is offering a closer look at the work that’s being done to restore service to the area.

They’ve announced their partnership with Lake Charles Memorial Health System.

“As Southwest Louisiana’s only community-based, locally owned and operated health system, it’s our mission to improve the health of all people of southwest Louisiana,” Devon Hyde, President and CEO of Lake Charles Memorial Health System said. “It’s important to us that we invest in service areas that directly improve accessibility to healthcare services.

LCMH will serve as their management company and offer temporary medical services in a mobile health unit, which will be replaced with a medical clinic, once repairs are made to the parish building that will house it.

“The mobile unit will be operational while repairs and renovations to the health unit, which will become our primary care clinic, a temporary health clinic until all of those services are combined in our new hospital,” Lower Cameron Hospital Service District Board Chairman Stephanie Rodrigue said.

Some questioned why the current facility wasn’t being rebuilt. Rodrigue said the board made the decision to demolish the existing building, taking this time to build a taller structure with a better chance of withstanding powerful hurricanes.

“The hospital will be a 10-bed hospital, elevated and built very strong to mitigate further storms we know will come our way,” Rodrigue said.

The hospital will be funded with FEMA and insurance money.

Booth said she’s hopeful the return of the hospital will bring back residents who left after the storms.

“We particularly lost some of the people in my age group,” Booth said. “We’ve lost a lot of them to Lake Charles or surrounding areas because they can get medical care.”

There is no timeline yet on the temporary mobile unit and clinic, but we’re told the hospital is set to open in 2025.