Tom and Gayle Benson Cancer Center Unveiled at Ochsner Medical Center

15 June 2010

Phase I of Ochsner’s Tom and Gayle Benson cancer treatment complex is unveiled. The facility will consolidate all treatments of cancer in a serene environment.

The Times-Picayune

Tom and Gayle Benson Cancer Center Unveiled at Ochsner Medical Center

The Times-Picayune

15 June 2010

Saints owner Tom Benson and Ochsner Medical Center officials unveiled the first phase today of a $20-million cancer treatment complex in Old Jefferson.

“We are the best hospital in the city, and we’re going to tell the world about it,” said Benson, who had a small tumor removed from his kidney about 18 months ago. “This is the place to be.”

Benson, accompanied by his wife, Gayle, granddaughter Rita Benson LeBlanc and Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, among others, delivered $5 million toward the development, which will become The Tom and Gayle Benson Cancer Center.

The genesis began before Hurricane Katrina, said Warner Thomas, the hospital’s chief operating officer. When completed, likely in the next two years, it will consolidate all treatments for myriad cancers.

“You don’t get just one physician when you come to this cancer center,” said Dr. Adam Riker, medical director of cancer services. “You get a team of specialty-trained physicians that will take care of you.”

Ochsner spokesman Lawrence Van Hoose said that in addition to the Benson’s $5 million, the hospital has raised $3 million and spent about $4 million so far on the project.

Using the winding Mississippi River as a backdrop, the announcement was made on the fifth floor of a partly renovated building on the Ochsner campus between River Road and Jefferson Highway. People needing chemotherapy will be able to overlook the serenity of passing vessels as they receive treatment. The hospital expects the center to begin receiving its first patients in July.

Construction began this summer and could take 14 months to two years to complete.

The center could rival the care brought by the partnership of East Jefferson General Hospital with the renowned M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In March, Ochsner joined the Louisiana Cancer Research Consortium, which includes Tulane, Louisiana State and Xavier universities.

Richard Rainey can be reached at rrainey@timespicayune.com or 504.883.7052

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