Before the doors are officially open for business, the Milbank Area Health Care Campus invites everyone to an open house and ribbon cutting Tuesday, November 22, from 1 to 6 p.m. Tour the new facility, enjoy refreshments, and visit with medical staff. “The staff are excited for this,” said hospital administrator Natalie Gauer. “We are looking forward to getting into the building permanently.”
The program begins at 4 p.m. Jim Gesswein, chairman of the board of directors of the Northeast South Dakota Healthcare Foundation, will present the welcome and closing remarks. Sister JoAnn Sturzl will offer a prayer and blessing. Guest speakers include: Gauer; Fred Slunecka, chief operating officer for Avera Health; and Dr. Nanci Van Peursem, family practice physician for Avera Medical Group Milbank.
According to Gauer, the new facility is still a few weeks away from opening to the public. “We want to stress that we are not open yet.” The first day for patients at the new building will be Wednesday, December 14. “December 14 is when our inpatients will be moved to the new facility and the emergency room will be fully functioning.” Non-clinical items will be moved on Monday and Tuesday, December 12 and December 13. Gauer also explained the clinic will be closed the afternoon of Thursday, December 15, and all day Friday, December 16, to facilitate the move. The new campus will be fully functional with both hospital and clinic services by Monday, December 19.
The former hospital included 50,000 square feet; the new campus encompasses 77,250 square feet. The clinic contains more than 30 examination rooms and the hospital includes a retail pharmacy, physical therapy services, and kidney dialysis.
Bien Pharmacy will relocate from its location on Main Street to the new healthcare campus. Big Stone Therapies will provide physical and occupational therapy services at the new facility. “We also will have a dialysis unit,” Gauer said. “There are a lot of regulations, training, and other items that still need to be worked on, but we hope to have it up and running by next summer.”
Since the hospital’s founding by the Sisters of Providence in 1920, it has remained committed to three principles – healing, health, and hospitality. “We are determined to maintain a special relationship with our patients and their families while promoting health care that is innovative and effective,” Gauer said. “With our new facilities, we will enhance the overall patient experience, expand health care services in our community, retain the best medical staff, and be a catalyst for economic growth.”
The new health care campus was made possible by many generous donors. “We are grateful to the Northeast South Dakota Healthcare Foundation for their financial contributions and we thank our donors who contributed more than $5 million,” stated chairman of the Milbank Area Hospital Avera’s board of directors, Jim Gesswein. “Their altruism allowed this enterprise to come to life. The future of this community-owned facility is bright and we are ready to make everything we do better.”
Through its capital campaign, the foundation raised $5 million of the $26 million needed for the project. Another $4 million was added from reserves the foundation had set aside from earnings over the years. The remainder is financed for the next 20 years, according to Gauer.
The former clinic and hospital buildings will be listed for sale. “It is important to the foundation that we are good neighbors and ensure these buildings do not sit idle long,” said Gesswein. Gauer added, “These buildings have served us well. Unfortunately, we are in a new day of healthcare delivery, therefore, this new campus will provide that top-quality care.”
She said approximately 12 new job openings will be created at the campus. “We have contracted dietary and laundry services with St. Williams Care Center. With the new building, we will add staff to fill those services at the new site.”
The medical staff will remain the same. Michael Bess will serve as the general surgeon. Family practice physicians include Kevin Bjordahl, Paul Denna, Thomas Lechner, and Nanci Van Peursem. Betsy Price, PA-C, and Lisa Bucklin, CNP, will also see patients from the Milbank site.
The satellite clinics will remain in place. Patrick Dreis serves the Big Stone City clinic. Brenda Holscher is at the Waubay clinic, Susan Leddy is in Wilmot, and Peggy Schuelke is in Revillo. “We also will continue to have outreach physicians provide services,” said Gauer. Those outreach services include: audiology, cardiology, dietetics, ear, nose and throat, nephrology, oncology, orthopedics, podiatry, pulmonology, and urology.
The hospital will continue its emergency, inpatient, and obstetrics services as well as home health and hospice. It will add 4D ultrasound and 4D mammography. The clinic will continue its family practice, general surgery and obstetrics services.
The new facility will also feature Alfred’s Cafe. The cafe is named after Alfred Nef and Alfred Gonzenbach, in honor of the Valley Queen Cheese donation.
A chapel will feature a large stained glass window depicting the Tree of Life. “The chapel will preserve the presence of the Sisters because that is how healthcare originated in Milbank in 1920,” Gauer explained. “It is imperative to preserve our roots.”