Tuesday, October 06, 2020 - Northshore cancer care to expand with new facility rising south of Covington

A new cancer center goes up near the intersection of Highway 22 and Interstate 12 in Covington. The center, a joint project of St. Tammany Health System and Ochsner Health, is expected to accept its first patient in summer 2021. (Photo courtesy Ochsner Health)

By Mike Scott,

This winter, leaders at St. Tammany Health System expect to cut the ribbon on the 160,000-square-foot patient tower that’s been under construction since late 2018 on its main Covington hospital campus – but there won’t be much time for celebration when it’s finished.

There’s too much other work to be done.

Just two miles south, another major expansion is taking shape that will expand the healthcare options afforded Northshore residents.

A product of STHS’s long-term strategic partnership with Ochsner Health, it’s a $50 million, 75,000-square-foot cancer center currently going up near the intersection of Highway 22 and Interstate 12.

Once completed in summer 2021, the three-story structure will be home to Ochsner and St. Tammany Health System’s comprehensive cancer care program, which is currently housed at the St. Tammany Cancer Center across the street from St. Tammany Parish Hospital.  

“One of the things that we’ve noticed at our St. Tammany Cancer Center is that we have seen significant growth over the last five years,” STHS President and CEO Joan Coffman said. “So, we’re basically space-constrained at our existing site.”

As envisioned, the new cancer center will continue to offer a full range of cancer care – from diagnosis to treatment to survivorship – all housed under one roof. There will just be more of it.

“Some of the things that are not able to be provided to the extent that we’d like to today – but which will be at the new cancer center – are clinical trials for our patients and expanding those clinical trials,” Coffman said. “We do some of that today, but this will give us far bigger opportunity, particularly with our partner. Also, we’ll be able to allow integrated therapies – healing of body, mind and spirit – to occur in that location.”

With a 40% increase in the number of cancer patients in the past five years at the existing cancer center location – a figure attributable mostly to early detection and innovative new therapies – and similar growth expected in the next five years, expansion of local cancer care is nothing but good news for Northshore families. The addition of an expected 30 to 50 new jobs over the next three to five years at the new cancer center further adds to benefits the local community will see from the project.

That being said, given the new center’s strategic location just off Interstate 12, there’s hope it will also serve as a beacon to cancer patients from outside the community hoping to sample the world-class healthcare the St. Tammany and Ochsner partnership deliver together.

“We are super excited about the opportunity to expand our services here in West St. Tammany,” Coffman said.

The new cancer center is scheduled to accept its first patient in June 2021.

See images of it below.