- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The American Cancer Society plans to build a 32-room lodge offering free stays for cancer patients being treated at any Jackson-area hospital or clinic.

The organization plans to break this summer on the $11 million project, The Clarion-Ledger reported (http://on.thec-l.com/1fJA0iw). It will be located on the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus and - like 31 similar centers around the country - called Hope Lodge.

“The Hope Lodge will allow cancer patients and their families to focus on what’s important - getting well,” professor emeritus Dr. Ralph Vance, a longtime American Cancer Society volunteer and past president of the national organization, said at a news conference announcing the development

Southern cities with Hope Lodges include New Orleans; Birmingham, Ala.; and Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.

The Hope Lodge could be an extension of UMMC efforts to land a national cancer institute in Mississippi. The state is still trying to do so, Dr. James Keeton, dean of the medical school and vice chancellor of health affairs at UMMC, said after the news conference.

UMMC is working on drug clinic trials closely with its pharmacy officials, said Keeton said. “We’re refocusing on wellness. You have to be unique to get an NCI.”

Keeton said he believes UMMC and other partners can make NCI a reality in Mississippi, where more people die of cancer per capita each year than any other state in the nation, except Kentucky.

The National Institutes of Health looks for diversity and disparities in health - something Mississippi has, Keeton said.

Keeton would not comment on the recent controversy surrounding Dr. Lucio Miele, who until last year was head of the university’s Cancer Institute.

In December, The Clarion-Ledger reported about an advisory board memo alleging that $5 million in money for the institute may have paid operating costs at the School of Medicine - an allegation university officials denied.

Miele’s contract as director of the Cancer Institute ended Aug. 5, and he was replaced by Dr. Srinivasan Vijayakumar.


Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com



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