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News and Notes

Feb 26, 2018 12:09PM ● By Alyssa McGinnis


Avera Health has expanded its Careflight program to better serve rural residents and improve response times across the 72,000 square-mile region Avera Services. The expansion involves placing a fixed-wing aircraft in Pierre. A Careflight helicopter is currently based in Aberdeen as well as a fixed-wing plane and helicopter in Sioux Falls. The fixed wings can fly at higher speeds and greater distances. Ground ambulances take patients to and from the airport in support of the fixed-wing unit. Careflight was the first helicopter transport service in South Dakota. 

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center has opened a new Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit on the fifth floor of the Prairie Center, located on the main hospital campus in Sioux Falls. 

This project is part of $174 million in projects announced in April 2017 on the new Avera on Louise campus at 69th and Louise, as well as the main hospital campus. The unit is located in what was previously shell space in the Prairie Center, set aside for future use. The unit has 24 private, post-acute rooms which are located around the perimeter of the fifth floor, as well as increased space for rehab care. 


 Amy Elliott, MD, and members of her research team have joined Avera Research Institute as the Center for Pediatrics and Community Research. Dr. Elliott has been a principal investigator on several National Institutes of Health (NIH) research projects including an initiative to reduce infant mortality in American Indian communities and the Safe Passage study examining environmental influences on child health outcomes. Dr.  Elliott’s areas of scholarly interest include health disparities, population health, fetal alcohol spectrum, fetal and infant mortality, early childhood development, pediatric sleep disturbance, environmental exposures and maternal–child health. Dr. Elliott and her team are coming from Sanford Health. 


Avera PACE has signed an agreement with The Innovation Institute. The Innovation Institute’s networking efforts will assist PACE partners. Avera PACE provides healthcare systems and providers with personal service and access to cost-effective contracts, bottom-line savings, and quality products from brand-name manufacturers.


Black Hills

Regional Health has named Mark Longacre as President of the new Regional Health and Advanced Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Institute in Rapid City. Longacre has worked in the healthcare field for more than 25 years. He recently served as Executive Director of Orthopaedic and Neurosciences at Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. He also served as Chief Operating Officer of Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital in Omaha for 12 years. The Advanced Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Institute is currently under construction with an expected opening in the Fall of 2018.

Regional Health Urgent Care North and Regional Health Urgent Care West, both in Rapid City are the first urgent care centers in South Dakota to earn the Accredited Urgent Care designation from the Urgent Care Association America. The designation is the highest level of distinction for urgent care centers.

Regional Health Rapid City Hospital has been rated a four-star hospital by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), up from last year's three stars. Regional Health Spearfish Hospital retained its four-star rating for this year, and Regional Health Sturgis Hospital was also rated four stars, its first-ever star rating from CMS. In the latest report, Rapid City Hospital was above the national average in three measures: readmission, efficient use of medical imaging and timeliness of care. Spearfish Hospital was above the national average in readmission, patient experience and timeliness of care.


 Halie Anderson, MD, has joined Rapid City Medical Center practicing allergy, asthma and immunology. A native of Spearfish, Dr. Anderson attended USD Sanford School of Medicine and completed a pediatric residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she also did her allergy and immunology fellowship. Dr. Anderson is certified to treat patients of all ages and  is one of only five board-certified allergists currently practicing in the state of South Dakota. 


 Sanford nurse, Alica Nordstrom, RN, was recently given a DAISY award for exceptional nursing Nordstrom works in Ortho/Neuro at Sanford USD Medical Center.

Sanford Health Increases Global Presence with Expansion in Seven Countries

Sanford Health has increased its global presence in international health by extending its services to seven countries. This year, Sanford will enter New Zealand, Ireland, Vietnam, Costa Rica and South Africa and increase its presence in China and Ghana. This expansion follows last year’s acquisition of a minority stake in ISAR Klinikum, a hospital leader in stem cell therapies located in Munich, Germany. Sanford Health’s international health care arm, Sanford World Clinic, will now be in nine countries with more than 30 locations.

US News and World Reports rated Sanford USD Medical Center the Number 1 hospital in South Dakota. The medical center is ranked high performing in all nine areas evaluated (colon cancer surgery, lung cancer surgery, COPD, heart failure, heart bypass surgery, aortic valve surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, knee replacement and hip replacement). Only 48 hospitals, or one percent, of those evaluated across the nation received such high honors.



Mercy Medical Center–Sioux City has appointed Erin Lichter as Director of Radiologic Services and Neurophysiology in November. Prior to joining Mercy, Lichter was an X-ray technologist for 10 years and an interventional radiology tech for 6 years.  Lichter most recently worked as an instructor for the radiology program at Southeast Community College as well as a manager at an urgent care clinic in Lincoln, Nebraska.

UnityPoint Clinic Welcomes New Surgeon

 Gokul Subhas, MD, board certified colorectal surgeon, has joined UnityPoint Clinic General Surgery. Dr. Subhas received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Government Medical College in Nagpur, India. He completed his residency at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan, and a colon and rectal surgery fellowship at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His expertise is in anorectal, colorectal, and general surgeries. Dr. Subhas previously practiced at Tri-State Specialists.

Mercy Nurses Achieve Medical-Surgical Board Certification

Alicia Held, MSN, Surgical Unit Nurse Manager, and Kari Kirchmeier, MSN, Clinical Nurse Educator at Mercy Medical Center, have earned RN-BC certification through the American Nurses Credential Center (ANCC). Held and Kirchmeier join the ranks of more than 27,500 nurses who have earned board certification in Medical-Surgical Nursing, the most popular designation offered by the ANCC. The certification attests to the achievement of specialty knowledge beyond basic nursing preparation and is evidence of clinical expertise and leadership in nursing practice in acute care settings for the adult patient population. The ANCC is a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association (ANA).

Douglas W. Martin, MD, FAADEP, FACOEM, FAAFP, Medical Director of UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Occupational Medicine, has been appointed to serve the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Commission on Education for a four-year term that began December 15, 2017. Martin received his degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He is certified in family medicine by the American Board of Family Medicine and is a certified Medical Review Officer and Aviation Medical Examiner.

Board certified family physician Pradeepa P. Vimalachandran, MD, MPH, has joined Oakland Mercy Medical Clinic in Oakland, Nebraska. A native of Toronto, Canada, Dr. Vimalachandran completed her residency at Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto. She also studied at Argosy University in Chicago, Illinois and received her Doctorate of Medicine at All Saints University School of Medicine in Loubiere, Dominica. She also holds a Master of Public Health degree and is pursuing a graduate degree in Business Administration.

Jennifer Milby, FNP-C, has joined the Akron Mercy Medical Clinic. Milby received her nursing degrees at Briar Cliff University. Prior to joining Akron Mercy Medical Center, she was a healthcare provider at Mercy Singing Hills Family Medicine and Urgent Care, Curaquick Clinic, and Dunes Surgical Hospital. She also served as clinical nurse instructor at Iowa Central Community College. Milby is board certified in infection prevention and family practice.

Shannon Hoos-Thompson, MD, FACC, has joined UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Cardiology Services and Cardiovascular Associates (CVA). Dr. Hoos-Thompson received her Doctor of Medicine degree and completed her residency and her fellowship at Creighton University in Omaha. She is board certified in internal medicine and cardiology.

 Marc Burrell, MD, joined the Mercy Medical Center Radiology team in January. He is fellowship-trained in Vascular and Interventional Radiology. Dr. Burrell utilizes image-guided catheters to perform minimally invasive therapies to treat conditions that formerly required extensive surgery. A native of Milwaukee, Wis, Dr. Burrell completed his education and began practicing in Texas. He completed his diagnostic radiology residency and fellowship in Vascular and Interventional Radiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.


 Mercy Medical Center–Sioux City has named Amy Becker Clinical Educator of Medical/Surgical Units. She holds a BA in history with an education minor and a BS in nursing from Briar Cliff University. Since moving to education, she volunteers with the Employee Activity Council and supports the Education and Informatics Committee of Nursing Council.



Make-A-Wish South Dakota has named Sue Salter as its new president and CEO.  Salter was chosen by the statewide Board of Directors following a search to replace Paul Krueger who has taken a role with Make-A-Wish America, the national organization.  Salter has 15 years of municipal and non-profit management experience, combined with eight years of professional fundraising experience. She is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and comes to Make-A-Wish from the Sanford Health Foundation where she has served as a major gifts officer since 2014.

Wapiti Medical Staffing has announced the acquisition of Emergency Practice Associates (EPA) – a medical staffing agency located in Waterloo, Iowa. Wapiti Medical Staffing has twenty years’ experience connecting physicians and individuals in the medical field with healthcare facilities throughout the United State. Wapiti is based in Milbank, South Dakota, with additional offices in Huron, Rapid City, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Waterloo, Iowa.