Group getting ready to cut ribbon poses for a photo.
Helping cut the ribbon are, from left, Matthew Harrison, executive director of the Grenada County Economic Development District; Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs; Scott Whittemore, interim UMMC Grenada chief executive officer; Dr. John Ruckdeschel, CCRI director; Michael Lott, president of the Grenada County Board of Supervisors; Dr. Joseph Messina, UMMC Grenada chief of staff; and Kevin Cook, chief executive officer of the UMMC Health System.
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UMMC Grenada opens outpatient cancer care clinic, infusion services

Published on Wednesday, November 20, 2019

By: Cynthia Wall

The University of Mississippi Medical Center Grenada and the UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute on Wednesday officially opened an outpatient cancer care clinic and infusion services in Grenada.

We are trying to extend our reach to serve patients, and that is part of what we’re doing here,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “The people part of what we’re doing is providing cancer services to patients closer to home.”

Woodward, a Carroll County native, recalled the trips her parents made to Jackson while her late mother was in cancer treatment and the fatigue brought on by cancer therapy and driving.

The Grenada area “has a special place in my heart,” she said. “I’m so happy to know we have a place here so patients won’t have to drive so far. Some of the same physicians who took care of my mother will be here.”

During the opening ceremony for UMMC cancer services in Grenada, Woodward explains how cancer care closer to home can help patients and families.

Work on making available UMMC’s cancer care services in Grenada started two years ago, said Dr. John Ruckdeschel, CCRI director. Bringing care closer to home was a prime motivator, he said. “It’s our belief that 80 to 90 percent of the care cancer patients require can be handled here,” he said. 

When patients need treatment on the UMMC main campus, it can be fast-tracked, he said.

The CCRI is part of Mississippi’s only academic medical center, offering 11 adult cancer-specific interdisciplinary teams that review each new patient’s cancer and recommend treatment. In July, U.S. News and World Report gave UMMC Cancer Center and Research Institute the distinction of High Performing in Adult Cancer for 2019-20, placing it in the top 10 percent of cancer centers nationwide.

Discussions in interdisciplinary teams are crucial to offering patients top-quality care. “Any patient we see here will be discussed in that same way,” said Ruckdeschel. 

Michael Lott, president of the Grenada Board of Supervisors, the group that leases the hospital to UMMC, said supervisors have discussed the cancer services addition and are glad to see the hospital expand.

“This hospital is very important to us and our community,” he said.  

Messina, a longtime Grenada internal medicine physician, said care close to home helps area physicians keep tabs on a patient's cancer progress.

Dr. Joseph Messina, an internal medicine physician and UMMC Grenada chief of staff, said the arrival of cancer services is a great day for the area. “For the first time, our patients now have a choice where they can receive state-of-the-art, specialty team-directed cancer care right here at home.”

Not only that, Messina said, patients are “able to receive that treatment from a cancer center that has been ranked among the top 10 percent of adult cancer treatment centers in America.”  

Messina called the emotional and physical travel a “taxing hardship” for cancer patients, family and friends. Care closer to home also makes it easier for their primary care physicians and specialists to keep tabs on their treatment and aid with other health care needs, he said.

“We look forward to working with you in improving the health care delivery to our community and surrounding areas,” he said.

Matthew Harrison, director of the Grenada County Economic Development District and head of the Grenada Chamber of Commerce, cited the 100,000-plus people in Grenada County and the surrounding area the services can impact.

“We’re excited and pleased to see UMMC expand opportunities in Grenada,” he said.

Services are offered at 960 JK Avent Drive in Grenada and include:

  • A weekly clinic held by a UMMC medical oncologist.
  • An interdisciplinary team review of each new patient’s case. Treatment options for each adult patient are based on the type of cancer they have, the characteristics of that cancer, other medical conditions and the patient’s wishes. Specialists involved in each type of cancer care meet regularly to review new patients, usually weekly, and recommend a treatment plan.
  • Infusion services, including chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other therapies as needed during the week. Other therapies might include blood or rehydration infusions.
  • An Emergency Department equipped to handle cancer needs with access to the UMMC oncologist on call.

Many patients also will be able to have regularly scheduled blood samples drawn at Grenada, with the results entered into their electronic medical record for doctors in Jackson to review.

Ruckdeschel talks to guests before opening ceremonies for cancer care services at UMMC Grenada.

UMMC Grenada serves residents in Grenada and surrounding counties, drawing on resources at UMMC in Jackson for specialty services that are hard to offer at smaller, rural hospitals.

Patients who need advanced or complex cancer care or those who may benefit from clinical trials may receive cancer therapy at UMMC in Jackson. It’s necessary for some procedures to be done in Jackson, such as complex surgeries, bone marrow transplant and certain chemotherapies or immunotherapies.

For more information about cancer services at UMMC Grenada, call 601-815-6700 or visit