Mary Bird Perkins continues expansion to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer
(Baton Rouge, La.) Caring River Cancer Center (CRCC) will merge with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (MBPCC), a comprehensive cancer care organization, serving the Gulf South region for almost 50 years. CRCC has provided local access to radiation therapy for more than two decades. As a means of continuing local access to this important service, CRCC’s owners unanimously decided to pursue a merger with MBPCC. The MBPCC board of directors approved the merger at its Dec. 11 meeting and the CRCC location will become part of the Mary Bird Perkins network, effective March 14.
CRCC co-owner Randy Tillman, M.D., said that this decision was based on CRCC’s desire to extend and preserve its service to the community by merging with a like-minded organization focused exclusively on cancer. He added that as cancer care continues to evolve and develop, the center will be positioned to support local access to high-quality care.
“The decision to merge Caring River with another organization was a challenging one to make and ensuring Natchez-area and regional residents continue to receive the highest level of care was our top priority. And we found this in abundance with Mary Bird Perkins,” said Dr. Tillman. “The organization brings a multitude of resources, technology and expertise that will serve the community well and we feel satisfied in knowing Mary Bird Perkins team will work closely with our medical community to provide patients and families the care they need. We are confident the merger will result in more services being available locally in the Natchez region.”
The facility name will be changed to Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez.
Jack Rodriguez, MD, a medical oncologist at Natchez Oncology Clinic, said that the Caring River physicians have been a tremendous asset to the community for many years, and that he will continue a close relationship with the MBPCC team.
“My Caring River colleagues have always put their patients first and have been key members of the local medical community for years, and by establishing this relationship with a longstanding and nationally-respected organization like Mary Bird Perkins, it once again demonstrates their dedication to fighting cancer in Natchez,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “I look forward to working closely with the Mary Bird Perkins team to closely collaborate on patients’ care and to manage treatments from a multidisciplinary approach.”
As part of the merger, CRCC and MBPCC, together, recruited Gregory W. Cotter, M.D., FACRO, a highly-experienced radiation oncologist and researcher to lead these services at the facility. Dr. Cotter has relocated from Olive Branch, Mississippi to establish his practice in Natchez and is now accepting new patients. All patients will continue to receive care from the facility’s experienced staff members who will all remain in their current positions.
With its hospital, physician and academic partners, MBPCC provides services to more than 5,000 new patients annually, supporting the needs of individuals and their loved ones fighting cancer. MBPCC offers comprehensive cancer treatment services, including prevention, education and early detection, clinical trials, survivorship and many other clinical and support programs. MBPCC will begin by offering radiation services, clinical research, and early detection and outreach programs to the Natchez area, and will expand support services in the future depending on demand.
“The Mary Bird team understands the importance of community cancer care and how much better patients respond when they can receive radiation treatments close to home,” said Todd D. Stevens, president and chief executive officer, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “Research shows that survivorship and outcomes significantly improve and the financial and emotional burdens of cancer are lessened when patients access care in their own communities. We feel it is a privilege to carry on the legacy of excellence Caring River has offered to patients in Adams County and surrounding areas for many years. We look forward to collaborating with the Caring River team and others in the community to ensure the excellent work continues.”
Mary Bird Perkins’ Prevention on the Go program, which provides prevention, education and early detection services has historically traveled throughout southeast Louisiana offering mobile cancer screenings for five different types of cancer. Now it will add Natchez to its travel roster to provide Prevention on the Go resources at no cost to participants thanks to generous donors.
Statistics show that cancer incidence and mortality rates in the Natchez region exceed the state and national average for breast, colorectal and prostate cancers. These are screening accessible cancers, which the Prevention on the Go team will target with prevention, education and screenings. According to County Health Rankings, Natchez’s tobacco use, obesity and uninsured rates exceed the national average. Evidence shows these factors can contribute to increased risks for cancer and late stage diagnoses.
“Through Mary Bird’s network and comprehensive services, our focus will be on investing in resources required to address all of these issues. As a Louisiana-based organization, many of our communities face the same challenges, so we have extensive, evidence-based experience on how to deliver the highest quality community cancer care,” said Stevens.
About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for almost 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at nine centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Gonzales, Zachary and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. For more information, please visit www.marybird.org.