Cowell Family Cancer Center Celebrates Five Years of Patient Care


This April Munson Healthcare is proud to recognize the fifth anniversary of Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City. During its five years in operation, the facility has helped to treat thousands of patients with state-of-the-art coordinated cancer services and has helped transform the standard of care throughout northern Michigan.

“Our philosophy has always been to put patients first and to provide all the components of coordinated cancer care,” said Kathy LaRaia, Munson Healthcare Oncology Services executive director. “Our commitment to that philosophy has only grown stronger over the last five years. That includes making sure cancer specialists, advanced diagnostics, and treatments are available as close to a patient’s home as possible.”
Cowell Family Cancer Center officially opened to patients on April 16, 2016. The $45 million state-of-the-art facility was made possible by the generosity of 2,500 donors who contributed $18.5 million to the project. Those donations included a $5 million lead gift from Traverse City resident and businessman Casey Cowell.

“Much more than a place for treatment, Cowell Family Cancer Center is a positive institution in our community,” Cowell said. “A key metric for me is the obvious sense of pride and commitment that everyone there displays. From volunteer greeters in our lobby to our most highly-trained oncologists. It’s contagious, inspiring, and never lets up. This contributes significantly to the tight weave and connectedness of our community.” 

More than Treatments
In the five years since opening, Cowell Family Cancer Center has quietly evolved into much more than a treatment location. The facility is also a home for the region’s cancer community. In a typical non-pandemic year, a variety of educational lectures are held each month covering the arts, cooking, screening, gardening, prevention, survivorship, and more. 

Countless friendships and community partnerships have been formed and nurtured as patients and families bond through treatment, healing, support groups, and a range of holistic services.

“As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Cowell Family Cancer Center, it’s important to recognize that this is so much more than a single building,” said David Heimburger, M.D., medical director of Radiation Oncology at Munson Medical Center. “The momentum created by the development of the Cowell Family Cancer Center has allowed us to recruit top talent, develop integrated multidisciplinary programs, and build a remarkable regional oncology care network.”

Cowell Family Cancer Center serves as the “hub” of Munson Healthcare’s Regional Cancer Network. This care model features “spoke” locations at seven Munson Healthcare hospitals throughout northern Michigan. The Network promotes patient care coordination and close-to-home access to infusion services, oncology consultations, and follow-up.

“Our services are focused on a full continuum of care that includes screening, prevention, treatment, and survivorship,” LaRaia added. “An average 61,770 new cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Michigan with a 70 percent survival rate depending on the cancer type. Munson Healthcare’s Regional Cancer Network saw 3,665 newly diagnosed patients in 2020, equal to about six percent of Michigan’s total. Cowell Family Cancer Center alone saw 1,895 new patients and 7,800 visits. Even during a pandemic, we remain diligent in caring for our patients.” 

By the Numbers
Five years of Munson Healthcare’s Regional Cancer Network - by the numbers:

  • More than 324,900 new infusion services patients treated
  • More than 10,700 new medical oncology patients treated
  • More than 4,400 new radiation oncology patients treated
  • More than 1,795 new gynecologic oncology patients treated
  • More than 7,000 low-dose CT lung cancer screenings provided – leading to 80+ early-stage curable lung cancer discoveries
  • 9,130 northern Michigan cancer survivors (an 81 percent survivor rate)
  • $1.6 million raised to fund patient needs, programs, services, and research 

“It has been a remarkable five years,” said David Gordon, M.D., physician chief of Munson Healthcare’s Oncology Service Line. “Limited multidisciplinary care, independent practices, scattered services geographically challenging to patients, and minimal outpatient support services have now morphed into a high-functioning regional cancer service line to solve these issues. The hub of it all is Cowell Family Cancer Center. This is because a large cadre of smart and dedicated individuals believed in the vision and made it happen.” 

“I believe we have one of the best, community and rural-based cancer programs in the country,” Gordon added. “Orientation to the needs of patients in Northern Michigan has been and remains the driving force. It has been a privilege and most rewarding to have been part of this journey.”

For more information on cancer services at Munson Healthcare, please visit