NORTH BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– Mary Bird Perkins will host eight community listening sessions to provide Cancer Center Health Equity professionals with feedback on barriers to cancer care, healthcare experiences, and support services needed in the North Baton Rouge community.

Residents living in the following zip codes are invited to participate: 70802, 70805, 70806, 70807, 70811, 70812, 70814 and 70815.

Louisiana is ranked the second-highest in the country for new cancer cases, followed by Kentucky. The highest rates in the state are in the North Baton Rouge community.

One resident, Corhonda Corley, lives near the Ronaldson Landfill in the Alsen area. Corley is concerned with the contaminants from the landfill affecting the community.

“DEQ has failed the constituents in this area,” says Corley, “When they receive calls about the smell of the sulfur… and there’s nothing being done about it.”

Corley also believes her son suffered from birth defects that can be traced back using the water in her home, which she suspects is filled with chemicals from nearby plants.

“My son has a rare medical disorder, a genetic chromosome duplication,” says Corley, “There are challenges, but we’re just blessed that he’s here with us today.”

The North Baton Rouge community has a number of chemical plants and landfills in nearby neighborhoods.

Nicole Honore, program manager with the Alliance for Equity in Cancer Care, said, “It is highly populated with chemical plants and things like that. It goes back to those social determinants of health. That really plays into as to why we see certain health disparities.”

Corley and several others attend the Mary Bird Perkins listening sessions. Participants engaged in several topics of conversation by sharing their experiences and viewpoints. The information shared will be used to address key concerns related to access to cancer care.

This initiative is supported by The Alliance for Equity in Cancer Care, an initiative funded by Merck Foundation and Genentech. The organization also gives special thanks to The Maxine Firm for event facilitation support.

Ellen McKnight Hill, the founder of Maxine Firm, said, “These folks are letting us know what’s working in the community, but they are also letting us know what is not working in the community as it relates to transportation, resources, communication between providers.”

The Mary Bird Perkins Center received a $2 million dollar grant in September to focus on new cancer cases in North Baton Rouge. The Center aims to use the funds to help 1,500 hundred patients.

Below is a list of upcoming listening sessions to attend;

  • 11 a.m. March 7: Living Faith Christian Center, 6575 Winbourne Ave., Baton Rouge
  • 11 a.m. March 8: Cancer Services, 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge
  • 5:30 p.m. March 13: Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 4000 Gus Young Ave., Baton Rouge
  • 11 a.m. March 14: Jewel J. Newman Community Center, 2013 Central Road, Baton Rouge
  • 11 a.m. March 20: Leo S. Butler Community Center, 950 E. Washington St., Baton Rouge
  • 6 p.m. March 27: Mt. Bethel Baptist Church, 13530 Scenic Hwy., Baton Rouge
  • 11 a.m. April 1: Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 185 Eddie Robinson Drive, Baton Rouge,