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Caring River Center in Natchez, Mississippi, is merging into Baton Rouge-based Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center.

Caring River Cancer Center in Natchez, Mississippi, is merging into Baton Rouge-based Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, the organizations said Thursday. 

The merger will give Mary Bird Perkins its first presence in Mississippi, and Caring River will be renamed Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Natchez. The deal is effective March 14. 

“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,” Caring River co-owner Dr. Randy Tillman said in a statement.

Cancer incidence and mortality rates in the Natchez region exceed the state and national average for breast, colorectal and prostate cancers, Mary Bird said. 

“Through Mary Bird’s network and comprehensive services, our focus will be on investing in resources required to address all of these issues," said Mary Bird President and CEO Todd Stevens. "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." 

Mary Bird provides care at nine centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Gonzales, Zachary and Natchez.