Cancer center showcases nearly $1 million renovation

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 26, 2022

NATCHEZ — Damage caused by last year’s winter storm was partially what allowed Mary Bird Perkins’ Natchez facility to undergo renovation work totaling nearly $1 million, officials said.

An open house on Thursday showcased the recent renovation of the clinic.

CEO Todd Stevens said the storm weakened a tree next to the center, which later came crashing down on the building causing water to flood the inside.

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“We have good insurance and we were able to do almost a million dollars of work on the building,” he said.

Mary Bird Perkins, a non-profit organization based in Baton Rouge that provides regional cancer treatment, has a total of seven centers located in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Mary Bird Perkins opened its clinic at 133 Jeff Davis Blvd. in Natchez in 2019.

Yet after three years since opening, people who don’t know about the clinic still drive an extra hour or more every day to receive the same level of care they can get there, said Jennifer Voss, Mary Bird’s Medical Physicist.

“If there is something we can’t do, we can refer them to our center in Baton Rouge but 95% of it we can do here,” she said.

After the storm, the building had to be repaired from floor to ceiling. New aesthetic elements were added to provide patients with a more relaxing and healing environment. A new generator was also added to ensure their patients’ care goes uninterrupted in the event of power outages.

The Natchez facility will also receive a new PET scanner soon from one of Mary Bird’s other centers.

Dr. Divyang Mehta, the radiologist at the Natchez center, said they tackled a “herculean task” of rearranging so that no patients wouldn’t miss their treatment while they had to be out of the building for four months after the storm.

“We had transportation arranged and provided gas cards and hotels for some patients. As a result, no one missed their treatment during that entire period. You ask a lot of other treatment centers and they can’t say the same,” he said.

Mary Bird rented space in the pavilion across the parking lot from their facility to see patients and made a temporary entrance to the building to use their equipment for radiation therapy, he said.

Mary Bird also offers a Prevention on the Go program, which provides free screenings out of a mobile unit in low-income communities. Angela Hammett, director of cancer navigation and support services, said she helps patients find options to get the care they need, even if they are not covered by insurance.

To learn more about Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and services offered at the Natchez center, visit marybird.org/natchez.