Hospital plans major updates to building, delivery of care

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

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This year will go down in the history of Avera De Smet Hospital as one of many changes. Construction is set to begin in May on a long-awaited and sweeping remodel of the facility.


“I’m so excited. I’ve been advocating for this renovation for 10 years and now it’s gonna happen,” said Avera De Smet Administrator Janice Schardin. “Our original facility is 50 years old and this remodel will get us through the next 50.”


Construction has been delayed almost a year and a half since the capital campaign to raise funds for the project raised close to $1 million in excess of its stated goal. Since then, project organizers have gone back to the drawing board.


“We were able to address all of the concerns, but maybe not within the money that we raised,” Schardin said. “We’re waiting for bids to come in before we will know if we’re entirely within budget.”


In addition to remodeled patient rooms, the new plans include changes in almost every corner of the building, including piping, sewer, water and ventilation. The emergency entrance will be moved and there will be a new radiology department. There will also be a full basement with an IT storage closet. In all, about 8,000-10,000 square feet are expected to be added on to the building.


“I’ve been telling my staff, ‘Are you ready? Cause here we go,’” said Schardin. “The architect had it until now, but now it comes to us.”


But the change at the hospital goes much deeper than just physically updating the building. Beginning on Feb. 1, Avera De Smet fundamentally altered its entire delivery of care model to focus on “continuity of care.”


“Before we had to find a ‘locum’ [travelling doctor] to come in. Maybe he’d come at 8 a.m. on Monday and leave Tuesday, then a new doc would come in,” Schardin said. “It was not satisfying to have a new doctor every day. It was also cost-prohibitive to keep having these MDs come in. We couldn’t keep paying those enormous dollars. This is a problem nationwide in every rural facility.”


Now, instead of fighting to find and keep doctors, Avera is hiring nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They appointed Dr. Trevor Meaney of Mitchell as a chief of staff to oversee care three days a week.


David Tritle


The De Smet News

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