By T. Scott Boatright
The location of where a new hospital for Lincoln Parish will be constructed has been determined.
Now parish residents begin the wait for when a new facility will open.
Northern Louisiana Medical Center and its parent company, Allegiance Health Management, recently announced a 35.5-acre tract of land has been purchased from local businessman James Davison at the corner of East Commerce and Celebrity Drives in Ruston that will be the site of a new, 120-bed hospital with attached office buildings.
NLMC CEO Kathy Hall said the process has been a carefully ongoing one to find a site officials felt would best serve residents from Lincoln Parish and the surrounding region, which is something those officials feel is important in turning Ruston a “medical hub” serving well beyond parish lines themselves.
“It’s as part of talks that had been going on for I guess a little more than a year,” NLMC CEO Kathy Hall said about the land purchase for a new facility. In 2021 we got with Mr. Davison and began looking at property. The area we started looking at didn’t have a lot of ‘in and out’ road access.
“But as he continued to show us around he showed us that piece of property and it felt like it was a good spot because people can get to it by easy access off of Interstate-20, off of (La.) Highway 33, and then you have Kentucky Avenue and (U.S. Highway) 167 as well, so we realized it was a prime location and was still visible from the interstate — that was something we wanted to make sure would happen.”
Larger rooms for patients and ICU units as well as state-of-the room operating and treatment rooms will all go into planning the new facility.
“I’m just so glad Allegiance has the loyalty to our community it does and stepped in to help make this happen,” Hall said. This is so needed. The current building is so dated. We spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.5 million on it already on equipment which is certainly needed. But the (old) building itself was built in 1964. There’s been some floors added throughout the years.
“A lot of the rooms in the current building are smaller. A lot don’t have showers in them in the 1964 part. Now on our third floor, our medical surgery floor, a lot of our rooms do have showers, but having updated rooms alone is a huge need.”
While hopes are that a new facility will draw new and more patients, the same is hoped for the staff that will be working there.
“The reality of it is, if you build a new facility, it’s going to be easier to draw the medical community into Ruston,” Hall said. “When you have a new facility, you have people who want to come to a new hospital, so you attract more and better doctors and specialists.”
Purchasing land for a new facility is only a start, and Hall admitted patience will be needed to create the state-of-the-art facility, complete with potential walking areas, a meditation garden and even a garden area will take time to envision and create.
“Just the front end of getting the plans ready and doing dirt work and things like that will likely take 12-18 months, we’re hopeful,” Hall said. “And then the construction will begin thereafter. Our plan is to get in there after the first of the year and start pushing the trees down and start hauling dirt in.
“We do know we’re going to have to do a good bit of dirtwork, but it’s a great spot and we’re just fortunate that Mr. James (Davison) sold the property to us that will allow us to build the hospital there.”
While Hall declined to give a rough financial estimate for the project, she did provide a hopeful timeline for completion.
“We honestly think that we’re looking at somewhere between four to five years,” Hall said of completion and opening of the new facility. “That’s our goal.”
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