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    Carolina Designs Helps Build State of the Art Cancer Center

    October 9, 2023

    The Outer Banks and the Outer Banks Hospital seem like a bit of an out of the way location for a state of the art cancer care, but for the past few years, the expertise and knowledge that caregivers in the program have contributed has created a program that has garnered widespread praise for its patient treatment and outcomes.

    And as the Carol S. and Edward D. Cowell, Jr. Cancer Center nears completion, those accolades are being translated into a nationally recognized and accredited center for the care of cancer patients.

    Treatment for cancer patients and their families has been a part of the Outer Banks Hospital (OBH) since 2012, but treatment and services were in different locations. That is about to change. A press release from the OBH announcing the construction of the new Cowell Cancer Center described how the new facility will change cancer treatment on the Outer Banks.

    “That means all of our cancer services will be under one roof, and patients will not have to travel from one building to another or, worse, long distances to receive state-of-the-art cancer treatment and care,” the press release read.

    Outer Banks Cancer Center Rendering

    From the time cancer treatment was first offered, the OBH has provided excellent, high-quality care, and that is reflected in the accreditations the center has earned. In 2016 the center was accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission of Cancer, “… one of only six critical access hospitals in the country with that distinction,” Jennifer Schwartzenberg, Director of Community Outreach and Development for the hospital, wrote in an email.

    Schwartzenberg also noted that “We are the only critical access hospital that is accredited for breast cancer care.”

    But as Carolina Designs Realty Managing Partner Monica Thibodeau pointed out, the facilities were located in different locations, and patients often had to drive between where testing and bloodwork were performed and where treatment was offered.

    “They had really good treatment, but one of the problems was they had the radiation center in one location and other services in other locations, but they really wanted to bring all the treatment under one roof and make it a better experience for the patients,” she said.

    The new Cowell Cancer Center will do just that—put everything under one roof—treatment, testing, recovery rooms, all of it in one facility. There will also be healing gardens, and rooms will be filled with natural light whenever possible. The new building will be at 4927 S. Croatan Highway in Nags Head, directly across from the Outer Banks Hospital. The building is currently the OBH Radiation Therapy Center, but after construction will more than double in size.

    Carolina Designs is proud to have participated in helping to fund the new building. Thibodeau recalled that she had been involved with the OBH Development Committee since 2018 and that when it became clear the goal was to create a new and expanded treatment center, she knew she wanted to help.

    “They had this goal and… I was like, ‘Well, what do I need to do?’” she said.

    A capital campaign to raise funds to assist with building the cancer center was already underway in late 2020 when community member Carol Cowell stepped up with a significant gift.

    “Ed Cowell passed away in 2021, and in 2022, his wife Carol made a significant contribution to the hospital’s (OBH) capital campaign that ultimately helped us raise $6 million towards the construction of the cancer center. The donor recognition for her gift in Ed’s memory was to name the building,” Schwartzenberg explained.

    More funds were needed, though, and Carolina Designs stepped forward to help.

    “We donated $50,000 from Carolina Designs,” Thibodeau said, adding that it was not her decision alone to commit to that generous of a contribution to the cancer center.

    “My partners were completely in on that,” she said.

    For Monica, though, this was also personal. In 2009 she lost her husband, Art, to cancer. He was one of the founding partners of Carolina Designs and was the president of the company at the time of his passing. She matched the Carolina Designs contribution as a way to honor her late husband and his legacy.

    Art Thibodeau Carolina Designs

    “It’s because of the loss of my husband to cancer. There’s no question. I wanted to do this in his honor. I wanted to support it as much as I could and help others through what I know to be a very difficult journey for people regardless of the outcome,” she said.

    The ribbon cutting for the Carol S. and Edward D. Cowell, Jr. Cancer Center has been scheduled for Friday, January 19, at 10a.m.