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The chief executive officer of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center said it was “ideological differences” that caused the organization to end its nearly 30 year long affiliation with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has reached a deal with Nashville-based OneOncology to join its nationwide network, ending its affiliation with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. 

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center was founded 50 years ago and will remain an independent nonprofit organization once the deal closes in the fall. The deal is for an affiliation, not sale of assets.

The goal is to expand resources for patients while driving growth, reducing patient costs and providing a connection to more clinical trials. It opens the door for the center to have a broader network of cancer care physicians nationwide, access to technology and national purchasing power. 

“It’s a strategic move for the organization that supports our continued philosophy of focusing 100% on cancer," said Todd Stevens, CEO of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in a news release. 

The decision left the Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center leadership "stunned" and "disheartened". 

"We were reassured by Mary Bird Perkins that their preference was to continue our relationship for the radiation and management services they provide," according to a statement from the medical center. "We are very disheartened to see our good work together in cancer care, built over the past decade, being dismantled for out-of-state interests. We’ve all watched these outside groups enter into communities and make decisions strictly for their out-of-state profit and investors." 

Mary Bird Perkins owns the building on Essen Lane in Baton Rouge and expects to continue providing services to patients there. The partnership was a cost-saving measure for both organizations which shared in both expenses and profits associated with cancer care. Any profits generated were re-invested back into the joint venture of then-Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. 

"As our team currently performs miracles in this COVID-19 surge, we are even more disappointed by Mary Bird Perkins’ decision and dismayed by the swift nature of this out-of-state transaction," the statement said. 

Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center had formed a partnership with Mary Bird Perkins in the early 1990s and was previously known as Mary Bird Perkins - Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center. Woman's Hospital has been working with the cancer center since 2017 for breast and gynecologic cancer treatment, now offered at the Woman's campus. 

"We have already begun planning for the continuity of services and the many complexities of a relationship as long and deep as our with Mary Bird Perkins," said Scott Wester, Our Lady of the Lake president and chief executive officer, in a letter to employees. "I remain confident in Our Lady of the Lake's way forward as premier cancer care providers."

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Mary Bird Perkins expects to remain as a nonprofit and donations would be managed the same as in the past. As for patients, the partnership is not expected to impact insurance coverage at this time or require patients to change doctors or treatment plans. 

"We do not expect any major changes and you (as a patient) will still make treatment and follow-up appointments in the same way you do now," Mary Bird Perkins said. 

Other providers already in the OneOncology group include Southeastern Louisiana Radiation Oncology Group and Northshore Oncology Associates in Covington. Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates is expected to join OneOncology by early 2022.

The deal includes affiliation with Mary Bird Perkins' Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Hammond, Houma, Covington and Natchez, Mississippi locations. It expects to continue its affiliation agreement with Terrebonne General Health System in Houma and work closely with Our Lady of the Lake and Woman's Hospital in Baton Rouge. 

"The company will also aid us in driving the future of cancer care delivery through a patient-centric, physician-driven and technology-powered model to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer,” said Dr. Charles Wood, medical director of the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. 

OneOncology was founded in 2018 and now has more than than 600 provides and 175 locations nationwide. Its network has more than 2,100 patients enrolled in 609 active clinical trials.  

OneOncology raised $200 million from private equity firm General Atlantic and the company was spearheaded by a group of three oncology practices: Tennessee Oncology, New York Blood and Cancer Specialists and West Cancer Center. 


Email Kristen Mosbrucker at kmosbrucker@theadvocate.com or follow her on Twitter @k_mosbrucker