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News & Notes

Jun 21, 2018 06:00AM ● By Alyssa McGinnis


Bob Sutton has been named as its new President and CEO of Avera Health. Sutton succeeds John Porter, who is retiring after 44 years of leadership to the organization. Sutton, of Sioux Falls, has 25+ years of professional leadership experience, most recently as Avera Executive Vice President of Human Resources. He has been with Avera since 2013 and has served in roles that include Regional President and CEO of Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre and Senior Vice President of Community Relations. Born and raised in South Dakota, Sutton holds a Master’s of Public Administration degree from The University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, also from USD. He and his wife, Lori, have two grown children, Madison and Matthew.

Deanna Larson, Chief Executive Officer of Avera eCARE® based in Sioux Falls, S.D., has been named Woman of the Year by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). Larson began her career as an RN and was named to a corporate role in quality assurance in 1996. In 2006, she was assigned administrative oversight for Avera eCARE which, at that time, involved extending ICU care and physician consults through interactive video and computer monitoring. Under Larson’s leadership, Avera eCare established telemedicine for emergency room care and pharmacy as well as programs to serve long-term care, correctional facilities, schools and more. Larson accepted this national award April 29 at the ATA18 International Conference & Expo in Chicago.

Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville, Iowa, has begun construction on a new Emergency Department, which includes a building addition of 6,800 square feet and 3,000 square feet of renovated space in the existing building. The new ED will feature two private trauma rooms and four private treatment rooms, a nurses station, physician consult space and a family conference area. The new space will also include a dedicated registration area for emergency, surgery and same-day services, a decontamination room, and an ambulance garage with direct access to the ED. Avera Holy Family Hospital conducted a capital campaign that raised $1.26 million in pledges and donations in just 7 months. The project is expected to be done by next spring.

Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center in Marshall, Minnesota received the Innovation of the Year in Patient Care Award from the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) for its work in preventing suicide.  Avera was among early facilities nationwide to launch a Zero Suicide program in 2015, and Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center’s Behavioral Health program has been involved in this initiative from the beginning. Efforts have included consistent staff training of key elements including screening assessments, safety planning, consistent and standardized use of assessment tools, and post-discharge calls. Avera Marshall attended Minnesota’s Zero Suicide Academy after being recognized as the first hospital in the state to launch a Zero Suicide Initiative and to share lessons learned with participants.

Avera eCARE recently earned The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for Ambulatory Health Care Accreditation by demonstrating continuous compliance with nationally recognized standards. During the review, a team of Joint Commission surveyors with expertise in ambulatory healthcare, evaluated Avera eCARE’s compliance with ambulatory care standards related to a variety of areas, including:

  • Emergency Management

  • Leadership

  • Provision of Care, Treatment and Services

  • Performance Improvement

  • Patient Rights

Black Hills

Regional Health Rapid City Hospital has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. Rapid City Hospital met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines. Rapid City Hospital also received the Association’s Target: StrokeSM Honor Roll award for reducing the time between the patient’s hospital arrival and treatment with the clot-busting tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA.

Black Hills Energy has donated $10,000 to the Regional Health Custer Hospital and Clinic to support construction of the new facility. Construction began in October 2016 on the new 44,000-square-foot hospital and clinic, located at 1220 Montgomery St. The hospital and clinic opened their doors on April 30, 2018. Of the $21.4 million project cost, Regional Health invested $14.4 million, and the City of Custer committed $4 million over the next 10 years. The remaining $3 million is being raised through community support like that of Black Hills Energy.

Regional Health Rapid City Hospital has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR certification, honoring the hospital as a leader in energy efficiency. Regional Health has taken a number of steps to reduce its impact on the environment. Hospital lighting was upgraded to efficient LED power. Occupancy sensors were installed to automatically turn off lights when rooms are empty. The hospital also reduced water consumption and undertook other measures to save energy and preserve resources. Buildings that earn the EPA's ENERGY STAR use 35 percent less energy and generate 35 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than similar buildings across the nation.


Sanford Health and Freudenberg Medical, a global developer and manufacturer for the medical device industry, have entered into a joint research and development agreement to create a device to treat blood clots and blockages within blood vessels. The catheter, which was invented by Sanford vascular surgeon Patrick Kelly, MD, will allow for precise infusion of medications to restore blood flow within arteries or veins. Under the agreement  Freudenberg Medical will determine the commercial potential of the device. Once the catheter has been developed, next steps would include early preclinical testing and eventual pursuit of an FDA review to allow the device to be marketed in the US.

A golf entertainment facility planned for the Sanford Sports Complex will be home to an interactive driving range, the Sanford POWER Golf Academy, a restaurant, and a meeting space.

Great Shots is scheduled to open in late 2019. The 54,000-square foot building will be built on the southeast corner of Benson Road and Westport Avenue. The heated, interactive driving range will be open year-round and include 60 bays spread across three floors, featuring a giant video wall with golf technology by Big Shots and Flight Scope. The Sanford POWER Golf Academy section of Great Shots will incorporate a putting green, a series of private bays, and the Sanford Sports Science Institute’s golf performance and injury prevention research.

Sanford nurse Jula Bitz, RN, of the pulmonary unit was recently recognized with a DAISY Award for outstanding nursing. Her nomination called her a nurse who “exemplifies all facets of being a nurse and recognizes the needs of the patient and family.”


Staff member from UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s helped kick off the start of Food Truck Fridays in June by handing out flowers. Employees gave each person two flowers—one to keep and one to pass to someone who matters to them. The event was part of St. Luke’s ‘pay it forward’ initiative and happened to fall on National “Say Something Nice Day”.


Madison Regional Health System’s therapy department recently became certified to in two areas that can help patients with chronic conditions. SASTM or Sound Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization utilizes specially designed instruments to detect and treat scar tissue, which can produce inflammation and chronic pain. The SASTM method can be used for a number of chronic conditions including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, back pain, neck pain, tendinitis in a variety of areas, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, frozen shoulder and impingement. Another program MRHS therapy has launched to provide care for chronic conditions is lymphedema evaluation and management.

The Sioux Falls VA Health Care System invited veterans in the area to try out telehealth services on June 25th during a visit from a specially-equipped telehealth truck. Staff at the Sioux Falls VA currently provide healthcare to patients using technology such as computers and phones, but not all veterans and their families know what’s possible. During the visit from the telehealth truck, demonstrations helped visitors see how they could use technology to receive healthcare at home, or even in their cars. The goal was to raise awareness of how telehealth can save time and money be serving veterans who live in remote or hard-to-reach places.

The Sioux Falls VA Health Care System recently received the Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in healthcare. The Partner for Change Award recognizes healthcare facilities that continuously improve and expand upon programs to eliminate mercury, reduce and recycle waste, source products sustainably, and more. Winning facilities must demonstrate that they are recycling at least 15 percent of their total waste, have reduced regulated medical waste, are on track to eliminate mercury, and have developed successful sustainability programs in many areas.