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The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center celebrates expansion with grand re-opening

$56 million expansion increases access to high-quality cancer services

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The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center at Ochsner Medical Center is celebrating its grand re-opening today after the completion of a $56 million expansion, which began in 2018. The 115,000 square foot addition, majorly funded by a $20 million gift from Gayle Benson and her late husband, Tom Benson, in 2017, has doubled the size of the Cancer Center, increasing capacity to offer more high-quality cancer services and advanced clinical research.

This special occasion was commemorated virtually at 9 a.m. this morning, with remarks from Ochsner leadership and Gayle Benson shared across Ochsner Health, New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans social platforms and via email.

The newly expanded Cancer Center will continue to bring innovations to the fight against cancer close to home, making it one of the leading comprehensive destinations for cancer care across a multi-state region. Located on the campus of Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans, the facility underwent extensive renovations and additions. More than 18,000 patients will be cared for annually by a multidisciplinary team of specialists and sub-specialists to meet the challenges presented by more than 20 different types cancers.

Key Features of The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center:

  • 115,000 additional square feet over six floors
  • Integrative Oncology Services with comprehensive symptom management, including physical therapy, yoga, acupuncture, a gym and meditation space
  • 58 personalized and semi-private patient chemo infusion stations against the beautiful, relaxing backdrop of the Mississippi River
  • Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic and Infusion dedicated exclusively to bone marrow transplant patients
  • All clinic space now has a multidisciplinary design where patients benefit from a collaborative approach to cancer care by a highly skilled team of medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgical oncologists, oncology nurses, social workers and Ochsner Precision Cancer Therapies Program researchers dedicated to specific disease types
  • The Lieselotte Tansey Breast Center, previously located across Jefferson Highway, has relocated to the newly renovated building
  • The latest location of an Ochsner Health O Bar, a retail experience offering the latest in cutting edge, interactive health technology to help patients seamlessly manage health and wellness

"I am so excited for the grand re-opening of the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer. This significant expansion will allow Ochsner to increase its capacity to successfully treat thousands of patients each year in an incredibly supportive and nurturing environment," said Gayle Benson. "Over the years, my husband, Tom, and I have been fortunate to do what we could to assist Ochsner's world-class team of physicians and caregivers in their mission to help patients and their families overcome this frightening disease. Today's reopening is particularly fulfilling because it will mean more of our community's families will see their loved ones win their battle with cancer. I am humbled by the selfless work that Ochsner's talented team does every day and look forward to continuing to support their heroic work on behalf of our community."

The expansion also includes an increased offering of supportive services such as nutrition, acupuncture, psychology and genetic counseling provided by a team that specializes in caring for oncology patients.

These offerings underscore an important focus of the Ochsner multidisciplinary team approach: the social, physical and emotional impacts of cancer treatment. Furthermore, they will complement existing programming, including chemotherapy classes designed for patients and families embarking on chemotherapy treatment and support groups available to all members of the community. Educational resources and regular support groups open to both Ochsner patients and any member of the community seeking support as they or a loved one battles cancer will also continue to be offered.

Additionally, Ochsner will continue to grow its already robust clinical cancer research program, which offers patients access to early-phase clinical trials, cutting-edge drugs and anti-cancer agents through its Precision Cancer Therapies Program. Ochsner's commitment to research and innovation is one of many reasons the Cancer Center is a regional destination for cancer care.

"The newly expanded Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center offers more than just much needed extra space," said Brian Moore, MD, FACS, medical director, Ochsner Cancer Institute. "It reinforces Ochsner's commitment to collaborative, patient-centered care using the latest technology, innovative treatments and a holistic approach. This, of course, would not be possible without the generosity of Mrs. Gayle Benson and her late husband, Tom Benson, and many other donors who believe in our mission of providing personal and compassionate cancer care."

Ochsner is grateful to those individuals, families and organizations who generously donate to the Ochsner Cancer Institute each year. In addition to the Bensons' gift, the following donors have given more than $1 million in philanthropic support to make the Cancer Center expansion a reality: Paulette and Frank Stewart, Sheryl and Robert Merrick, Stuart Smith and Barry J. Cooper and Jackie Leonard.

The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer addition and expansion was designed by Rozas Ward and constructed by Woodward Design+Build.

The new facility is connected to the entire Ochsner Health network of facilities and physicians through Epic – Ochsner's integrated electronic health record system, which enables Ochsner physicians to securely share patient information, resulting in a higher level of coordinated care across the system. Patients can also use personalized MyOchsner accounts to access tests results and schedule appointments online through personalized MyOchsner accounts.

Cancer Care at Ochsner
The Ochsner Cancer Institute has cared for patients from all 50 states and 28 countries at its comprehensive cancer centers located throughout the New Orleans region, St. Tammany Parish, Baton Rouge and North Louisiana. In 2019, Ochsner served more than 32,000 adult and pediatric cancer patients. Five-year cancer survival rates for those treated at Ochsner continue to exceed the national average not only for the four major cancer malignancies of breast, colon, lung and prostate, but also several other types, including melanoma, head and neck, pancreatic, ovarian and cervical cancers.

Additional Ochsner cancer care expansions include a new, state-of-the-art cancer center in western St. Tammany Parish through a partnership with Ochsner and St. Tammany Health System. Slated to open in summer 2021, the 75,000 square foot center will more than double the space of the current cancer center in Covington.

The Ochsner Cancer Institute delivers advanced technology and treatment options such as precision therapies, early tumor detection programs and the largest clinical trials network in Louisiana so that patients do not have to leave the state for high-quality cancer care.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control released this year shows a drop in cancer death rates during the 20-year period from 1999 to 2018, resulting in a 26 percent drop overall, highlighting the critical difference routine cancer screenings can make in overall outcomes. Simply put—early cancer detection can save lives. It is critical to not delay medical care and that includes routine cancer screenings. All Ochsner facilities have implemented rigorous safety protocols and are committed to keeping you healthy. It's important to talk with a doctor about when and how often cancer screenings should be done. Ochsner's goal is to conduct 141,000 total additional cancer screenings by 2022.

To support the Ochsner Cancer Institute's mission of providing multidisciplinary cancer care, please visit www.ochsner.org/donate. The 8th Annual Moonlight & Miracles Gala, this year a virtual gala to benefit the Ochsner Cancer Institute, will be Sunday, November 1, 2020. To purchase tickets and/or sponsorships, please visit www.ochsner.org/moonlightandmiracles or contact specialevents@ochsner.org.

For more information about Ochsner's award-winning cancer care or to make an appointment, please visit www.ochsner.org/cancer-care.

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