Baptist Health MD Anderson Cancer Center celebrates 5 years of caring

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When Baptist Health MD Anderson broke ground on its new Jacksonville cancer center in 2016, there were high expectations. A nine-story, 330,000 square foot building replicating the world class MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

It came to fruition in just two short years. Medical Director Dr. Bill Putnam talked with News4Jax about the work that’s been done since the opening.

“Our growth has been so extraordinary in the first five years. That growth will probably taper off just a bit, but we will still have the ability to meet a significant need in this community for multi-disciplinary integrated and specialty care,” Putnam said.

While completing its building construction came two years later, Baptist MD Anderson transitioned to Jacksonville five years ago. It’s treated nearly 50,000 patients.

The team administering that care is huge. Putnam said they’ve hired more than 500 team members and 40 new physician specialists and surgeons. Part of MD Anderson’s reputation lies in the way its staff works together to treat patients.

Khim Owens Bagget was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was pregnant with her third child. She couldn’t find a doctor who would take her complicated case and allow her to carry the baby, until she came to Baptist MD Anderson in Jacksonville.

“Just to have the nurses embrace me. It felt like a family setting, like I was coming and sitting with family versus just a very sterile medical situation,” said Owens Bagget.

Owens Bagget’s cancer treatment started right away and she said the coordination was remarkable, but what she remembers most is how the staff made her feel.

“They are going to become your family, and they’re going to approach it in a family approach. You were not just another number. You are an individual, and they recognize you for your unique cancer experience,” Owens Bagget said.

“Our goal is to create the environment for patients to get the care that they need. Because we have a large number of positions, team members we can surround that individual with the care that they need,” Putnam said. “So an individual with a complicated cancer diagnosis who’s pregnant can have multiple individuals consider best treatment options and apply those options to the patient.”

In the end, the doctors at MD Anderson did something others wouldn’t: they delivered a healthy baby girl and, over time, a cancer free mom.

Baptist Health MD Anderson is also focused on screening and prevention. They’ve performed more than 210,000 screening mammograms since 2015 and more than 10,000 lung cancer screenings.

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