Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center is set to begin construction next year on a $100 million stand alone cancer center.
The Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Institute will span 80,000 square feet and connect to the existing hospital. OLOL, part of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, is finalizing the process to select a national architecture business with experience in building cancer centers. The new building is slated to be built adjacent to the medical center's Essen Lane campus. The organization has narrowed the search down to three undisclosed sites nearby.
The cancer center will have medical and surgical oncology practices, a chemotherapy and infusion center, advanced imaging and diagnostics for cancer treatment, an infusion pharmacy and an on-site pharmacy. The building will also have a conference center for educational, research and patient wellness events. The goal is to provide personalized cancer care and serve as a destination for patients statewide and draw in new physicians with special expertise.
OLOL said due to the scope of its practice and its 800-bed hospital, the cancer center has the ability to be nationally recognized.
"Our organization is the only organization that has the comprehensiveness for what we need to have for cancer care here. We will house all cancer care under one roof," said Scott Wester, CEO of OLOL.
The inspiration for the cancer center was part of OLOL's strategic plan, under development for more than a year. Plans to move forward on the center were finalized in the spring.
"There’s nothing independent about cancer care. Treating cancer takes a team, and bringing every talent together is what each patient deserves," Wester said. "Physical, emotional and spiritual care are proven to play an important role in a cancer diagnosis, treatment and survival."
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center announced in August it was ending its partnership with OLOL in favor of a deal with Nashville-based OneOncology to join its nationwide network. Mary Bird Perkins will remain an independent nonprofit organization once the deal closes in the fall. Mary Bird Perkins owns the building next to the Lake on Essen Lane and expects to continue providing services to patients there.
The partnership between OLOL and Mary Bird was a cost-saving measure in which both organizations shared expenses and profits associated with cancer care. Any profits generated were re-invested back into the venture.
Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates, which is currently affiliated with both OLOL and Mary Bird Perkins, is expected to join a partnership with just Baton Rouge General and the cancer center in 2022.
Mary Bird Perkins leadership noted it saw the announcement Monday and declined to discuss whether the new cancer center was discussed as a previous partnership opportunity. Its CEO, Todd Stevens, had said that the organization negotiated with OLOL until April. Both sides were unable to come to a deal where Mary Bird's board would remain independent, Stevens said.
“We are uniquely positioned to bring our mission to fruition today for every individual who seeks care within in our network," according to a statement from Mary Bird Perkins.
Dr. Daniel Nuss will be the leader of the cancer institute while Linda Lee will be the administrative vice president. Nuss leads the 20-physician Head and Neck Center at OLOL, the largest specialty practice of its kind in the Gulf South. Lee has spent the past 10 years as vice president and administrator with the Lake's joint partnership with Mary Bird Perkins
Nuss remembers a patient he had years ago who required radical surgery and extensive radiation. At the time, it was a brutal process. But now there are more minimally invasive options and even robotic surgery which enable patients to heal faster with smaller incisions.
“This is an historic investment in cancer care for the Gulf South,” he said.
The Lake's cancer center has 600 doctors from its physician group already accredited by the Commission on Cancer. The organization plans to partner with OLOL's graduate medical education programs and LSU along with Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Our Lady of the Lake has a medical oncology practice. The organization already does palliative medicine, and surgical oncology care including treatment of head and neck, colorectal and other gastrointestinal tumors, lung cancer and thoracic surgical care, neurological tumors and orthopedic oncology services.