When it comes to combating cancer—lack of accessible healthcare facilities, long waiting times, and financial constraints—could prevent many individuals, particularly those in underserved areas, from receiving timely medical attention. In Louisiana, these factors have enabled cancers to progress undetected and reach advanced stages, significantly reducing the chances of successful treatment and survival.
Recognizing the urgency to address these barriers to cancer care, Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, the largest community-based health system in southeast Louisiana, has undertaken a pivotal mission to enhance survivorship rates and alleviate the burden of this formidable disease. Anchored by its state-of-the-art Cancer Center, the organization provides a full spectrum of cancer care services, ranging from proactive prevention and early detection initiatives to precise diagnosis, leading-edge treatments, and robust post-treatment support programs.
Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s dedication to combating cancer extends well beyond the confines of its facility. The organization remains deeply rooted in the region, providing free education and screening services to its community through its mobile medical clinic program ‘Prevention On The Go,’ to find cancer in its earliest stage when better outcomes are more likely.
Driven by a “high tech” and “high touch” approach to healing, the organization’s pursuit of excellence, alongside embracing a patient-centered approach and placing the utmost importance on community education and outreach, makes it a leading healthcare provider in southeast Louisiana.
As Phyllis Peoples, the President and CEO of Terrebonne General Health System, continues to lead the organization’s efforts to combat cancer, the Cancer Center is making substantial strides in providing comprehensive cancer care close to home, delivering hope to countless individuals and families in Louisiana.
Let’s explore how this remarkable organization, Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, is revolutionizing cancer care, empowering individuals, and igniting hope in the face of adversity.
Providing Comprehensive Care: An Inspiration
In 2023, it is projected that in the United States (U.S.), an estimated 1.9 million individuals will be diagnosed with cancer, and 609,820 will succumb to the disease. Louisiana is expected to contribute 28,508 new cases and 9,420 deaths to those total numbers (American Cancer Society, 2023). Due to this continuous increase in cancer diagnosis, Terrebonne General Health System and Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center formed a partnership in 2008. Since then, each party has had one goal: to offer Bayou Region residents a comprehensive Cancer Center close to home. We collaborate with every patient through advanced technology, programs, and services to help them beat their disease.
In another effort to reduce the rise of cancer cases, Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center provides a prevention and early detection program, Prevention On The Go, to find cancer in its earliest stage when better outcomes are more likely. “Using our mobile medical clinic, the Early Bird, the Cancer Center brings our community free, potentially life-saving education and screening services, including lung, colorectal, breast, prostate, skin, and oral screenings,” says Peoples.
Fulfilling the Mission of Cancer Survivorship
The Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center has grown and evolved to meet the needs of the community, but its mission has remained the same: to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer. This mission is especially important in Louisiana – a state that suffers from high cancer mortality rates due to lack of access to care, delayed diagnosis, and other factors.
Providing Customized Care
“Every patient we serve gets customized care tailored to their personal needs and diagnosis,” emphasizes Peoples. Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a state-of-the-art Infusion Center equipped with superior technology to allow patients to receive the most effective treatments in a single, convenient location. Its highly experienced oncology-certified physicians and nurses provide compassionate, safe, and high-quality care.
Other services offered at the Cancer Center include blood draws, hydration therapy, injections, pump disconnections, traditional intravenous chemotherapy infusions, and clinical trial availability – where every patient is evaluated for participation.
Patients are given every tool they need to fight their disease. Those who meet the criteria to participate in clinical research receive a standard of care treatment but with the added benefit of a trial that may enhance their outcomes. Clinical research trials offered include brain, breast, colorectal, head and neck, kidney, lung, melanoma, pancreas, and prostate studies.
Compassion, Expertise, and State-of-the-Art Technology
“In our philosophy, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to cancer treatment. Our desire is to ensure we meet the needs of every individual with compassion, expertise, and state-of-the-art technology,” highlights Peoples.
The organization’s strength is in providing the highest quality care and the best treatment options unique to each patient. Its team of expert physicians brings together their specialties and collaborates to ensure that they provide the most effective treatment plan for every patient whom they serve in a patient-friendly and compassionate environment.
“At Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, we offer our patients an innovative approach by holding multidisciplinary cancer case conference(s) to evaluate patient management, including clinical and/or pathological stage, treatment planning using evidence-based guidelines, and where applicable, options and availability for genetic testing, clinical research studies, and supportive care services to potentially improve the patient’s results,” highlights Peoples.
On the last day of treatment, spouses, children, mothers, fathers, and the care team surround the patient as they ring La Cloche de la Vie or The Bell of Life for a special time of celebration. The bell signifies the end of one journey and the beginning of another. The ringing of the bell is for all to hear. Some patients choose to gently ring it, while others strike it hard. Regardless of how they choose to celebrate this triumph, it is an unprecedented moment of joy for everyone involved.
Diagnostic Equipment to Fight Cancer
The organization provides a full arsenal of diagnostic imaging equipment used in the fight against cancer. This diagnostic imaging equipment includes:
GE Discovery 600 PET /CT: Provides diagnostic testing, development, and treatment plans. Features Cone Beam CT for more accurate and precise scans.
GE Signa HDXT 3.0T high-performance MRI system: This high-definition MRI system delivers more definitive diagnostic exams and is enhanced with anatomy-specific components that take accuracy and certainty to a new level. It is also accredited by the American College of Radiology.
GE LightSpeed VCT (Volume CT) 64 Slice Cat Scan: This scanner is the latest innovation in CT technology. It can simultaneously deliver comprehensive anatomical coverage and high resolution, allowing clinicians to capture whole organs in seconds. This equipment is accredited by the American College of Radiology.
Expansion of Services
Looking ahead into the year, Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is renovating and expanding its footprint and services, including a new extensive infusion suite where natural light creates a calm and healing atmosphere. This new suite will also feature private and semi-private infusion spaces for enhanced patient comfort. A fitness and wellness area and an innovative group activities area for meditation and other alternative therapies are being added.
This more than $4 million renovation includes modernizing building systems, adding essential cancer support services, enhancing radiation technology, and expanding the location by more than 15,336 square feet to serve the community more effectively.
As part of the project, the Infusion Center will be relocated to the third floor of the clinic, and changes will include the following:
An increase from 22 to 27 infusion bays.
An increase in clinic exam rooms from 8 to 20.
Semi-private bays with TVs.
Common area treatment space for patients to be in the company of others if they choose.
Additional private rooms for patients who wish to receive infusions in a quieter environment.
The clinic’s renovation will enhance multiple support services, all of which further Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s commitment to bringing support and healing to patients. These include palliative care and generic testing and counseling. New and existing support services areas will all be located on the second floor for patient convenience, including:
Gym for cancer patients who require physical rehabilitation services or exercise programs as a part of treatment.
Lymphedema management service to reduce pain and swelling caused by lymph node damage.
Dietary consultation area to provide patients with specialized nutritional guidance.
Meditation room to provide patients and loved ones with a place of serenity and reflection.
Multi-purpose space to support patients mentally, emotionally, and spiritually through music and art therapy.
Supporter space where loved ones can comfortably wait for patients and step away for a quiet moment.
In addition, our radiation oncology services include the new Elekta Infinity, an advanced radiation treatment system that reduces both time and radiation exposure from radiotherapy. The system can deliver aggressive treatment more precisely to the target area through sophisticated computer programming. This will limit the effects of radiation on healthy cells and enhance the quality of life for patients.
Terrebonne General Health System in Brief
Terrebonne General Health System is the largest healthcare resource provider in southeast Louisiana, taking the lead in delivering medical excellence and innovation to the people of the Bayou Region. The organization is driven by a “high tech” and “high touch” style of healing that offers an expansive range of services that provide hospital care and preventive care. It comprises of a highly skilled healthcare team consisting of over 1,400 employees and over 450 medical providers who offer 42 various specialties.
Additionally, Terrebonne General Health System has been honored with many prestigious awards and accolades for quality, safety, and patient experience on the state, national and international levels. “We are comprised of three hospitals, a surgery center, and many outpatient clinics, one of our hospitals being a crucial safety-net hospital. We are home to Terrebonne General | Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, which has been delivering quality cancer care close to home to patients in our region since 2008,” adds Peoples. “As a comprehensive cancer facility, our Cancer Center provides the full continuum of cancer care – from prevention and early detection to diagnosis, treatment, recovery, and survivorship. The Cancer Center’s services include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, patient navigation, clinical trials, and free community screenings.”
This Cancer Center is also nationally accredited with commendation and recognized for excellence in cancer care by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and the National Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI®) Certification Program, an affiliate of the prestigious American Society of Clinical Oncology (A.S.C.O.).