New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owners Gayle & Tom Benson Donate $20 Million to Ochsner

Largest, Historic Gift to Advance Clinical Cancer Research and Expand Cancer Care Services for the Region

New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owners Gayle & Tom Benson Donate $20 Million to Ochsner

NEW ORLEANS – Ochsner Health System announced today a $20 million gift – the largest gift in the history of the organization – from New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owners, Gayle and Tom Benson to expand cancer care services and advance clinical research within the Gulf South region. This is part of a major expansion of the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center, making it one of the leading comprehensive destinations for cancer care across a multi-state region.

Since 2010, The Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center at Ochsner Medical Center - Jefferson Highway has cared for patients from eight states and seven countries and has five-year survival rates for prostate, lung, colon and breast cancer that are consistently over the national average.

“When we first opened the cancer center, we knew that our partnership with Ochsner would allow us to help so many people in our region. For years, too many of our local and state-wide residents needed to seek cancer care away from home and we needed to address that,” said Tom Benson. “Gayle and I could not be more pleased that so many patients today are receiving world-class cancer treatments right here in our hometown. We are proud of our association with Ochsner and the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center. There is much more work to be done as the number of new cases continues to grow each year. This gift will help ensure that we can offer the best services possible to our residents of Louisiana and the Gulf South.”

Louisiana ranks high in the United States for overall cancer death rates. By 2030, annual cancer deaths are projected to rise to 13 million worldwide.

“Last year, more than 24,000 cancer patients were seen by the Ochsner team across all of our facilities. Every day, patients walk into this facility looking for innovative treatment options and high-quality care that will impact both that person and their families for the rest of their lives,” said Warner Thomas, President and CEO, Ochsner Health System. “This transformational gift is truly special. The continued generosity provided by Gayle and Tom Benson will greatly increase our capacity to provide patients across the state and beyond with the best possible cancer treatment.”

Katie Kelly can relate – she was 30-years-old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Katie's treatment at Ochsner was successful and she now uses her experience to help others battling cancer.

“For every tear you helped me brush aside and replace with strength and courage that shows the practice of wonderful medicine. I'm forever grateful to the staff at Ochsner and I thank you for giving me my life back and making that life more fruitful and lovelier than it was before," said Katie. “The expansion of this Cancer Center means so much not only to me, but to others who also struggle with this disease. Thank you, Gayle and Tom Benson and Ochsner for investing in the cancer services needed in this community.”

“One in three Americans will have an invasive cancer in their lifetime. There is growing need to provide more specialty services so that patients can stay within our state and closer to their families,” said John Cole, M.D., Vice-Chairman Medical Specialties, Ochsner Cancer Institute. “The expansion of the Gayle and Tom Benson Cancer Center will allow us to offer continued multidisciplinary care, strengthen our cancer clinical research and provide more patients with easier and earlier access to exceptional and innovative cancer care.”

The Cancer Center expansion will include:

  • 100,000 square feet of expanded oncology clinics across five floors with the addition of over 50 personalized and semi-private patient chemo infusion stations; more than doubling the patient space in a relaxing and compassionate atmosphere.
  • A full spectrum of specialty-trained physicians who employ a team approach to treating cancer patients through weekly conferences and open and integrated communication.
  • Comprehensive approach to urologic, gynecologic and surgical oncology for all cancer types.
  • A clinical cancer research program with a large range of clinical trials for all cancer types; including cutting edge drugs, new agents and anti-cancer agents for treating cancer.

Later this week, Ochsner will host its annual Moonlight and Miracles Gala to benefit cancer services and research. Gayle Benson chairs the Miracle Makers committee alongside 60 local volunteers to celebrate the continued excellence in patient care, research, education and prevention. More than 2,000 guests are expected to attend and last year’s gala raised $1.3 million.

The Ochsner Cancer Network across the Ochsner Health System provides multidisciplinary care for adult and pediatric cancer patients. These patients benefit from a collaborative approach to cancer care by a highly skilled team of physicians, oncology nurses, social workers, researchers, and other healthcare professionals. Ochsner currently offers 189 cancer clinical research studies and has been recognized as a High Performing in Cancer Care by U.S. News & World Report.

Ground breaking research is made possible by the generosity of our donors. If you'd like to donate and help Ochsner save more lives, please www.ochsner.org/giving.

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Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit, academic healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 25 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 50 health centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a “Best Hospital” across six specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 90 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs 17,000 employees, over 1,000 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties and conducts more than 900 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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