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September/October News & Notes

Aug 28, 2018 06:00AM ● By MED Magazine


Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen and Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton have been recognized by Premier Inc. for demonstrated excellence in performance across 13 patient safety adverse event areas of focus, as part of their participation in Premier’s Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) program. The two Avera facilities were among 27 US hospitals recognized. 

Avera Cancer Institute’s sixth location, the Helmsley Center in Pierre, will hold a grand opening event on September 30 from 11 to 2. The 57,000 square foot facility will connect patients with radiation and medical oncologists, oncology nurses, radiation therapists, physicist and dosimetrist. The Helmsley Center will also be home to orthopedics, dermatology, ENT, and urology. Avera telehealth system will also allow patients to access additional cancer services at Avera locations across the system. Expanding Cancer Care in Pierre 

Avera Health, the University of South Dakota (USD), and Capital University Center (CUC) in Pierre have announced a new partnership to offer local nurse training in Pierre. Avera and USD will share the cost for the program at CUC for the academic years 2018-19 and 2019-20. CUC allows students to receive face-to-face instruction in Pierre. CUC has worked with all six of the state’s public universities and is expanding its undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs.

Avera Health has established a history-making scholarship fund for American Indians at The University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.The Avera Health American Indian Scholarship Program Fund will provide $24,000 for students who are enrolled members of federally-recognized tribes in South Dakota or the upper Midwest. Avera and the medical school will collaborate to recruit potential student scholars for the program and recipients will be encouraged to provide care in underserved South Dakota areas.

 After nearly 36 years with Avera Health, Chief Operating Officer Fred Slunecka announced his retirement in July. Slunecka has been Avera’s COO since 2010. Prior to that, Slunecka served as Regional President of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center for 21 years. Earlier in his career, Slunecka served as Executive Director of St. Joseph Hospital in Mitchell, now Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. David Flicek, President and CEO of Avera McKennan and Chief Administrative Officer of Avera Medical Group will assume the interim COO duties in addition to his current duties. An executive search will be conducted later this year to fill the operations role.  Slunecka to Retire From Avera After Almost 36 Years

Avera clinical psychologist and social worker Wallace Jackmon, PhD, LSW-PIP, was chosen to present at the National Association of Social Workers national convention in Washington, DC in June. Dr. Jackmon presented on a topic that is of a growing concern in the behavioral health field – Media Induced Anxiety and Depression. Dr. Jackmon has been with Avera Behavioral Health for 16 years.

Black Hills:

Regional Health is one of five health systems in the United States to be honored by the American Hospital Association for efforts to create a diverse, inclusive environment for staff, patients and families. In 2016, Regional Health launched a systemwide effort to create awareness focused on cultural competency education, including special sessions for the medical staff. In 2017, this training was extended to all new caregivers on their first-day orientation, and in 2018 an additional session was included on their 90-day follow-up orientation. Regional Health also developed a job shadowing program for Native American students and organizations.

Regional Health’s Board of Directors have named Paulette Davidson Acting President and CEO of Regional Health, replacing Brent Phillips. Davidson has been with Regional Health since 2015, serving as COO as well as President of the Rapid City Hospital and the Rapid City market. Davidson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and holds an MBA from Notre Dame. Among other achievements, she helped initiate Regional’s $350 million construction project to expand and enhance primary care, emergency services, and hospital bed capacity.

Regional Health Rapid City Hospital hosted two ice cream socials in July at the top of the hospital parking garage to give participants a view of construction on the hospital expansion project and a chance to talk with Regional Health officials about it. Visitors were also invited to sign their names to a steel beam that will become part of the new hospital addition. Rapid City Hospital to host ice cream socials, construction updates

Regional Health caregiver Syrina Fields signs her name to the steel beam that will later be placed inside the large addition to Regional Health Rapid City Hospital

Six physicians graduated from the Regional Health Rapid City Hospital Family Medicine Residency Program on Friday, June 29. Graduates of the three-year residency program include Crista D. Few, MD, Karla R. Ivy, DO, Matthew D. Nielsen, MD, Karla M. Polito, MD, Monaleze Saini, MD, and Christopher J. Wenger, MD.  


The journey to bring The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and Sanford together as a combined enterprise has cleared a major milestone this summer. The Society Membership voted to approve the Restated Articles of Incorporation resulting in both organizations being able to sign the new Affiliation Agreement combining the two organizations as one, pending completion of the regulatory review process. Each organization’s governing board has previously approved the affiliation. The Membership vote clears the way to begin the regulatory review process. The goal is to bring the organizations together by Jan. 1, 2019.


Long-time Mercy Medical Center Volunteer Patricia Collins is the recipient of the 16th annual Dr. George G. Spellman Service Award. Collins has served the community and Mercy for more than 50 years. She has served in the gift shop, the physician’s lounge, reception and surgery and has been a member of the Auxiliary Board, Mercy Women’s Night Out committee, and the Mercy Fall Gala committee.

Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City announced that it is one of the first hospitals in Iowa to offer the world’s smallest pacemaker for patients with bradycardia. Medtronic’s Micra Transcatheter Pacing System (TPS) does not require cardiac wires (leads) or a surgical “pocket” under the skin to deliver a pacing therapy. Instead, the device is small enough to be delivered through a catheter and implanted directly into the heart with small tines, providing a safe alternative to conventional pacemakers without the complications associated with leads – all while being cosmetically invisible.

Mercy generates 1,440 jobs that add $200 million to Siouxland's economy, according to the latest study by the Iowa Hospital Association.  In addition, Mercy employees by themselves spend $56 million on retail sales and contribute $3.4 million in state sales tax revenue. In all, Iowa’s healthcare sector contributes $17 billion to the state economy while directly and indirectly providing 330,308 jobs, or about 20 percent of the state’s total non-farm employment.

Mercy Medical Center is offering a line of frozen meals developed by Mercy dietitians and hand-crafted in the Mercy-Sioux City kitchen. The meals are heart healthy, low in sodium, and diabetic friendly and are designed to offer an easy meal solution for anyone with congestive heart failure, diabetes, or heart disease; those following a weight reduction plan; or anyone who simply wants a convenient and healthy option. The meals are are all under $5.50 and are available for purchase in the MMC-SC cafeteria.

 MMC-SC has received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Gold Plus Quality Achievement Awards in Heart Failure Care, Mission: Lifeline STEMI and NSTEMI. The awards recognize the hospital’s commitment to ensuring heart attack and heart failure patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines founded in the latest scientific evidence.

 Jackie Kuchta, NP-C, DNP, has joined South Sioux Mercy Medical Clinic, Mercy Internal Medicine and Pediatrics and Mercy Singing Hills Clinic.  Kuchta recently graduated from Briar Cliff University with a Doctor of Nurse Practice degree. Prior to joining the Mercy Medical Services Clinics, she was a certified diabetes educator and insulin pump specialist at Mercy Medical Center.  She has experience in treating hospitalized patients with renal disease, congestive heart failure, COPD, and other health concerns.

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s has also received two awards from the American Heart Association for the treatment of heart attack patients. St. Luke’s received the American Heart Association 2018 Mission: Lifeline Gold Receiving Quality Achievement Award and the Mission: Lifeline Gold NSTEMI Award.

AHA representative Katie Bergen and team members from Sioux City Fire Rescue and UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Emergency Department, Cardiovascular Associates and Intensive Care Unit.

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s has received the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry Platinum Performance Achievement Award for 2018. St. Luke’s is one of only 203 hospitals nationwide to receive the honor which recognizes success in implementing a higher standard of care for heart attack patients.


The Prairie Lakes Healthcare System Board of Directors announced the appointment of Kenneth (KC) DeBoer as President and CEO in June. DeBoer started the job August 20, following the retirement of Jill Fuller. DeBoer holds as MS in Health Services Administration and has 27 years of healthcare management experience. He was most recently President and CEO of Jamestown Regional Medical Center in Jamestown, North Dakota.

MED’s Steff Liston-Holtrop with her teammates Butch Hanssen of Novak Sanitation and Clint Graybill and Bob Mayasich of Sanford.

 Dakota Lions Sight & Health (DLSH) raised more than $25,000 to support education and outreach programs at the 20th Annual Gifts of Sight & Health Golf Tournament. A total of 64 golfers from 16 teams participated and DLSH received the generous support of nearly 20 corporate sponsors. MED Magazine was, once again, a proud sponsor of the event.

This year, DLSH was able to raise over $25,000 to support their education and outreach programs.

Robert P. McDivitt, FACHE, was recently named the new Network Director of the VA Midwest Health Network. McDivitt has been with the VA for more than 35 years. He hold an MA in public management/healthcare policy from the University of Minnesota and is board certified in healthcare management and is also an Army veteran. McDivitt most recently served as Network Director in the Ann Arbor, Michigan VA service area.

The first phase Huron Regional Medical Center’s $3 million renovation project on the third floor of the main hospital wrapped up on August 1 and hosted its first delivery on August 3. The space includes a new central reception desk, four new delivery suites with large, spa-like bathrooms, four post-partum rooms and an expanded nursery and lactation area. The project, which began in February, now moves onto phase two which includes a remodel of the four existing delivery suites and post-partum rooms, a new family waiting area, and an expanded nutrition bar.

 US News & World Report has ranked Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha in five pediatric specialties in the new 2018-19 Best Children’s Hospitals rankings: Cardiology and Heart Surgery, Pulmonology, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Orthopedics and Diabetes & Endocrine Disorders. This is the highest number of specialties Children’s has ranked since participating in the nationwide survey. The rankings rely on clinical data and an annual survey of pediatric specialists. They factor in patient outcomes, as well as clinical resources and adherence to best practices.

 (l to r) Byron Nielsen, MD, David Withrow, MD, Tyler Hanson, MD, Chuck Aman, CEO, Will Hurley, MD, David Barnes, MD, Sherri Rodgers-Conti, SE CASA Exec Dir, Crystal Gemar, case manager.

Yankton Medical Clinic, PC, recently made a $5,000 donation to Southeast CASA, the court-appointed special advocate program for Bon Homme, Clay, Yankton, and, Union counties. The donation will help train volunteers and support CASA services. There are currently 21 trained volunteers in the region.