Cancer patients in DeSoto County and those with minor ailments just needing to get in to see a physician quickly at a walk-up clinic will now be able to receive the treatment they need all under one roof.

Baptist Memorial Health Care officials cut the ribbon Monday on a new $55 million, 87,000 square foot physician office building on the campus of Baptist Memorial Hospital-DeSoto.

The new center will offer urgent, primary, and drive-up care, along with comprehensive cancer services, pulmonary medicine and diagnostic imaging services without having to leave the building. 

“Today is truly a joyous day,” said Dr. Mark Swanson, president and CEO Baptist Medical Group. “This is a beautiful building. I remember when we first turned dirt on it almost two years ago. We never would have imagined that you would have a facility that looks like this.”

Baptist Medical Group-Primary Care and Walk-in Clinic will open in the building on July 18. Patients with COVID or the flu will be able to stay in their car while they receive care at the drive-up.

“One of the things we learned when COVID blossomed is that you don’t necessarily want to bring folks in who have infectious diseases like COVID or the flu,” Swanson said. “But if you can test them while they are sitting in their car it is convenient for them and safer for regular patients who are in the waiting room.”

Swanson said they will also be locating a number of their medical and surgical specialists in the building, and have space on the third floor for private speciality practices that will support the hospital. 

“It will really be easier for patients to have that one stop shop where they can come in and potentially get a lot of their medical needs taken care of without having to leave the building and switch from parking lot to parking lot, which I think is tremendous,” Swanson said.

Zach Chandler, chief strategy officer, said the new building is another milestone in the healthcare services that Baptist is providing north Mississippi and the Mid-South region and will help carry out the hospital’s mission of “preaching, teaching and healing.”

“You’re now seeing support over here and the expansion of one the largest oncology programs of any system in the Mid-South,” Chandler said. “You are seeing services that are brought in places like (Memorial Sloan Kettering) and MD Anderson (Cancer Center) right here to the Mid-South and DeSoto County. We are transforming patient’s lives. We are saving family members and spouses’s lives.”

Oncologist Dr. Muhammed Mirza said cancer treatment is complex because it affects the whole family and takes a team of specialists and support staff to deliver state-of-the-art first class cancer care. 

Sadly, Mirza said Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas have among the highest rates of cancer mortality in the country. The new center will allow them to consolidate cancer treatment programs in one place and expand their clinical trials that will keep residents from having to travel out of the area to receive treatment.

“So this cancer center is a big leap on this vision and goal to deliver state-of-the-art, world-class, cutting-edge cancer care close to home,” Mirza said. “All of this hard work and investment and development in crucial programs for cancer care needs will be in abundance in this comprehensive cancer center.”

Senator David Parker shared this wife Ashleigh’s story of the treatment she received at Baptist when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer in August 2019. Ashleigh had 20 percent of her liver removed, her gall bladder removed, rectum removed, an appendectomy, hysterectomy, eight rounds of chemotherapy, and a permanent colostomy bag all in a year and a half.

“She is cancer free now and getting some of the best cutting-edge treatment and therapy that she can at Baptist,” Parker said.

Parker said they traveled to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston when she was first diagnosed but was told by doctors there that many of the cancer specialist at Baptist were trained by or closely collaborated with the staff in Houston and that they have the best health care available close to home at Baptist.

“We had this before this center was open, and what this center to me is going to do is it is going to take that even further,” Parker said.

Ashleigh said the doctors and nurses at Baptist were compassionate and caring and top notch from the beginning.

“Everyone from the front desk to the lab girls and nurses and doctors and the infusion room nurses, you are heroes,” Ashleigh said. “You helped guide us through some of the roughest just scary times of our lives.”

Ashleigh added that Baptist not only helps patients, but also reached out to the community as well. Her experience as a cancer survivor led her to form a non-profit called DeSoto Hope, which provides gift baskets and support to other cancer patients and survivors. 

Chandler noted that projects such as this are the reason why Baptist Memorial Health Care system has become one of the top hospitals in the state and is getting national recognition in publications like U.S. News & World Report for its cardiac and stroke services. He added that the new office building won’t be the end of construction on the DeSoto campus.

“You will continue to see us expand the in-patient and outpatient services as this region continues to grow and the population continues to expand, but also as the number of services provided here continues to expand,” Chandler said. 

 

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