NEW IBERIA, La. (KLFY) — A new emergency room is opening in Iberia Parish.

Iberia Medical Center officials say it’s the first time in years the community will have two emergency rooms and say the opening of the second E.R. came at the perfect time.

Hospital officials say people won’t have to travel as far to get emergency help, and if there’s another COVID-19 surge, they’ll have the extra room if there’s another increase in hospitalizations.

“When COVID was at its peak, we boarded people in our E.R. beds. We had to have stretchers in the hallway while trying to maintain strict precautions in terms of exposure,” IMC Emergency Room Medical Director Dr. Leslie Grego recalled.

Dr. Greco says though they started planning and renovating the E.R. years ago, its completion during the COVID-19 pandemic couldn’t have come at a better time.

She says while they don’t have any coronavirus patients in their E.R. right now, if there’s a fifth COVID surge, the extra emergency room will prevent overcrowding.

“It’s just been a long time coming because, with the pandemic, our E.R. across town saw our volumes drop and then soar during the middle of the pandemic. We knew we needed more space to be able to help the people in the community,” Dr. Grego added.

CEO and President of Iberia Medical Center Dionne Viator says though their main campus has an emergency room, they needed more E.R. space across town on their North Campus.

“Iberia Parish has one hospital. Iberia Medical Center is the sole hospital in the community. To have more than one location is extremely important for access to care with the tremendous volume we saw with COVID but also as we go through natural disasters,” Viator added.

She says between hurricanes, flooded or icy roads, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, having emergency rooms in the community without needing extra transport to get outside of the community is critical.

“Loud and clear, the community told us they needed this, so it feels really good to be able to deliver on that ask,” Viator told News Ten.

The emergency on IMC’s North Campus opens Thursday, December 2, at 7 a.m.