Mary Bird Perkins collaborating with BRG’s Pennington Cancer Center

Todd Stevens, CEO of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. (File photo)

In the latest shake-up to rock the rapidly changing local health care market, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and one of the largest oncology practices in Baton Rouge—Louisiana Hematology and Oncology Associates—have signed a letter of intent with Baton Rouge General’s Pennington Cancer Center to expand services to BRG’s Bluebonnet campus.

The announcement comes one month after the 50-year-old MBPCC announced it was ending its affiliation with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and partnering with a Nashville-based network of independent oncology practices, OneOncology, which will provide HR, IT and accounting services to MBPCC.

Today’s announcement is significant for MBPCC, which will now have a third Baton Rouge location in addition to its main Essen Lane facility on OLOL’s campus and its Woman’s Hospital location, which specializes in breast and GYN cancer.

But the deal has even larger ramifications for OLOL and BRG.

• OLOL is losing its hematology/oncology practice. At the end of the year, LHOA will terminate its physician services agreement with OLOL—an arrangement that enabled OLOL to share in the billings generated by LHOA—and enter into a new exclusive physicians services agreement with MBPCC beginning in January.  

• BRG is effectively gaining a hematology/oncology practice. Though it won’t have any ownership or management stake in LHOA, BRG will get the benefit of its services, which will enable BRG to reopen its hospital-based infusion program. That program has been shuttered since 2019, after the group that had been based at the hospital—Dr. Gerald Militello’s Hematology Oncology Clinic—joined a national independent physicians association and opened its own infusion center in a separate location on the BRG campus.

“This is huge and our medical staff is very, very happy to welcome Mary Bird Perkins and LHOA to our campus,” says BRG CEO Edgardo Tenreiro. “This will mean more access to even better cancer care right here, without leaving home. It will ensure that Baton Rouge will remain the premier cancer care destination in Louisiana for years to come.”

Today’s announcement underscores the complexity of health care today—most patients have no idea who owns the providers that are caring for them or who’s getting the money their insurance companies pay for their care.

It also speaks to the increasingly competitive landscape in a market that was long divided among OLOL, BRG and Womans and has recently been forced to change by the aggressive expansion of Ochsner.

After MBPCC’s August announcement that it was leaving OLOL following months of failed negotiations with the hospital, an OLOL spokesperson publicly blasted the institution for its decision to partner with OneOncology, and suggested the deal would “result in decisions made strictly for their out-of-state profit and investors.”

MBPCC President and CEO Todd Stevens says the characterization is patently false, adding that Mary Bird Perkins is and always will be a “community-based nonprofit focused on providing the best cancer care for patients in Baton Rouge.”