Skip to main content


Avera to Build Cancer Center in Pierre

Aug 26, 2016 09:45AM ● By MED Magazine

Avera Health has announced plans to build a new Avera Cancer Institute in Pierre. The project is being made possible by up to $10 million in grant funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and will be called the Helmsley Center. The center will offer state-of-the-art cancer care as well as clinic space for primary and specialty care.


Walter Panzirer, Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust, announced a donation of $7.5 million that will go toward construction of the new building, plus a new linear accelerator for radiation treatment, specialized infusion chairs, and a TUG robot that delivers medications including chemotherapy to care units in the hospital and cancer center.


The Helmsley Charitable Trust also announced a $2.5 million dollar-for-dollar challenge matching grant. The Avera St. Mary’s Foundation will launch a fundraising campaign in 15 counties in central South Dakota to meet the $2.5 million challenge through donations from individuals, families and businesses. This is the first time the Helmsley Charitable Trust has offered a challenge match in South Dakota.


Local residents and stakeholders identified cancer care as one of the three prominent needs in the 2016 Community Health Assessment conducted by Avera St. Mary’s, alongside chronic conditions associated with obesity and mental health. The new Helmsley Center will be constructed between Avera St. Mary’s Hospital and Avera Medical Group buildings. Construction is planned to begin next summer, with an estimated opening date of late fall 2018.


“Pierre is unique in that it is our state capital and an important city in our state, and yet its geographical location isolates it from more populated areas by hundreds of miles,” Panzirer says. “We see bringing a cutting-edge cancer center to Pierre as a very worthy project that will help improve the future health of this community and the surrounding area.”


The Rural Healthcare Program of the Helmsley Charitable Trust has funded over $296 million in grants throughout the upper Midwest. Other Avera projects funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust include Avera eCARE™ telemedicine program that reaches 263 sites; radiation oncology technology in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Mitchell; digital mammography equipment; CT scanners; and more.