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News & Notes: November 2018

Oct 24, 2018 06:00AM ● By MED Magazine


Avera Health has received a $7.8 million dollar grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to build a 24-hour telemedicine behavioral health team as part of Avera eCARE.

With an initial focus on services for people in crisis, Avera eCARE will provide virtual behavioral health assessments as well as treatment for patients in local emergency departments and inpatient psychiatric hospitals. The virtual team will also support behavioral health units, hospitals and outpatient primary care centers. Eventually, Avera eCARE will also provide mobile support to first responders. The three-year grant period extends from now until September 2021.

Another Helmsley Trust-funded project, the Helmsley Center in Pierre, opened last month with a gala celebration. The newest Avera Cancer Center brings enhanced oncology services to the area with infusion suites that are connected to the oncology clinic and radiation oncology services, including a fully digital Elekta Infinity linear accelerator. Other specialties housed in the 57,000-square-foot Helmsley Center include orthopedics and podiatry; physical medicine and rehabilitation; interventional pain medicine; dermatology; ear, nose and throat; urology; and specialty outreach clinics. The center also houses telemedicine equipment for access to specialty visits through Avera eCARE. Together, donors and the Helmsley Trust are contributing $12.5 million to the $30 million dollar project.

In August, Avera announced plans to build the Avera Human Performance Center on the Avera on Louise Health Campus at 69th and Louise in Sioux Falls. The $14 million, 60,000-square-foot complex will house a sports medicine clinic with staff that specialize in non-operative treatment, biomechanical evaluations and specialized instructions after injury or concussion. There will also be a modern therapy gym with an anti-gravity treadmill, Pilates equipment, isokinetic balance equipment, a gait-analysis treadmill with 3-D motion capture system, as well as an underwater treadmill and an aquatic therapy pool.

The Avera Research Institute’s Center for Pediatric and Community Research has been awarded a $17.1 million grant through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its work on a children’s health study called the ECHO Program. ECHO stands for Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes, and its scientific goal is to better understand the effects of a broad range of early environmental influences on child health and development. The grant’s total, presented over five years, represents the largest health research funding award in South Dakota history.

A collaboration between the Avera Cancer Institute Center for Precision Oncology in Sioux Falls and the Institute for Clinical and Molecular Biology (IKMB) of Kiel University, Germany, has published a new article on targeted personalized therapy. “RNA based individualized drug selection in breast cancer patients without patient-matched normal tissue,” was published online by Oncotarget in August. The focus of the collaboration, which has been going on for three years now, is to jointly improve cancer diagnostics. This is the second publication of this collaborative effort.

Black Hills

Regional Health Rapid City Hospital began performing procedures with a new da Vinci Xi robotic surgery system in September. The da Vinci Xi is the hospital’s second surgical robot and expands on core da Vinci system features, including wristed instruments, 3D-HD visualization, intuitive motion and an ergonomic design. Surgeons who operate at Rapid City Hospital perform a number of robotically assisted procedures, including prostatectomy, kidney and bladder surgery and gynecological procedures such as hernia, bariatric, LAR and right and left colectomy.

Mike Tilles, President Home+, Dr. Deepak Monmohan Goyal, Physician Advisor, Brandi Tackett, Director of Clinical Innovations Home+

Beginning in September, physicians at Regional Health began partnering with Regional Health Home+ to extend medical care to patients who live in long-term care facilities and nursing homes throughout the Black Hills. This program allows patients to stay at their current living situation since they will not have to leave the nursing home to see a physician. The newly formed dedicated team will provide consistency to the patients across the Black Hills.

Maggie Navarrete and Adam Drake, both RNs at Regional Health Rapid City Hospital, Have been recognized with the prestigious DAISY Award for extraordinary nursing. Navarrete was nominated by a patient’s wife and Drake by a patient’s daughter for kindness, compassion, professionalism and care.


A $12 million dollar NIH grant that supports research at Sanford has been renewed for another five years. The Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) grant helped establish Sanford’s Center for Pediatric Research. The renewal will be used to fund studies on how stem cells contribute to pediatric diseases. The grant will fund up to five different labs with the goal of making them self-sustaining. Sanford Research has two other CoBRE grants, one for the Center for Cancer Biology Research and one for the Center for Population Health Research.

Sanford Imagenetics now offers expanded genetic testing and counseling through primary care clinics, making it a more accessible part of healthcare. Primary care physicians are able to use the results of the Sanford Chip genetic testing to help patients find which medications will work best for them and help them assess their personal risks of various diseases, including breast cancer. One blood test provides information on both genetic risk for disease and effective medications for an out-of-pocket charge of $49. The model also offers genetic counseling for patients and guidance for how to navigate their results.

 Vascular surgeon Gregory Nissen, MD, has joined the team at Sanford Vascular Associates in Sioux Falls. Nissen received his medical degree from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine and did residency work at Christina Care Health Services in Delaware. He also completed a fellowship in vascular surgery at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and is board certified in general surgery and board eligible in vascular surgery.

 Sanford Surgical/Cardiovascular nurse Maxine Johnson, RN, recently received a DAISY award for outstanding nursing. She was described in her nomination as positive, respectful, humorous, encouraging and strong.


The Physicians of CNOS in Dakota Dunes broke ground on a new site on the South Eastern (Morningside) Neighborhood of Sioux City, Iowa, in October. The 7,500 square foot clinic and therapy space is slated to be open in early December, 2019. CNOS CEO, Nolan Lubarski says, “We are committed to continuing to provide access to high-quality healthcare services in the Morningside community via our new location.”  October 2018 marks the 20th year in operation as CNOS, PC.

Siouxland golfers supported area cancer patients at the 20th Annual Pink Ribbon Golf Classic in September. The golf tournament included 37 teams who raised an all-time high of $32,575 to benefit the June E. Nylen Cancer Center with the new True Beam Radiation Technology.

Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City has announced the appoint of three new Vice Presidents. Lea Greathouse will assume the role of VP of Mission, Marketing, and Foundation. Greathouse earned her BS and MSE from Wayne State College and has been with Mercy Medical Center since 2001 as Executive Director of the Mercy Medical Center Foundation.

Timothy Daugherty has been named Mercy’s new VP of Operations and Strategic Planning. Daugherty will be responsible for business development, clinical services, and the Mercy network hospitals. Daugherty earned a BS from Illinois Wesleyan University and a MBA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and comes to Mercy Sioux City from Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  

Julie Anfinson has been promoted to VP of Support Services and Human Resources. Anfinson will be responsible for human resources, facilities, education, environmental services, nutritional care, safety and security. She holds a BSN from Briar Cliff University and an MHA from Des Moines University and has been with Mercy Medical Center since 1988 and has been Director of Human Resources since 1999.

 Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City has announced the appointment of Kelly Cosgrove as Manager of Clinical Services-Obstetrics and Pediatrics. Cosgrove joined Mercy in December 2017 as the nurse educator for OB and Pediatrics. She obtained her BSN from Briar Cliff University and has 13 years of nursing experience. Her certifications include: Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Neonatal Resuscitation, Mandatory Reporter, National Certified Passenger Safety Technician and EFM Certification.  

Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City has been recognized as a high performing medical facility for colon cancer surgery by US News & World Report. Mercy's colon cancer surgery score is based on multiple data categories, including patient outcomes, volume, nurse staffing and readmission prevention. These rankings – determined by reputation and outcomes data, including survival and safety – are intended to help patient and families make better-informed healthcare choices.

The American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) has recertified the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City. Mercy’s Cardiac Rehab program, which is located in the state-of-the-art Mercy Heart Center in Sioux City, earned the three year recertification following a rigorous review that verified its excellent clinical practices. Mercy's Cardiac Rehab program has been in practice for 35 years.

Mercy Medical Center, in conjunction with CNOS, and Siouxland Stroke Support Network, hosted  a weekend-long "Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp" in September. This camp is a unique way to bring stroke survivors and their families together for a weekend of support, education, fun and respite. Camp was held at Broom Tree Retreat Center, outside of Irene, South Dakota, a site carefully chosen for its hotel-style private rooms and relaxing camp atmosphere.

UnityPoint Health–St. Luke’s has received the American Heart Association’s Get With The Guidelines Heart Failure Bronze Quality Achievement Award. St. Luke’s is also recognized on the association’s Target: Heart Failure Honor Roll for improving medication adherence, providing early follow-up care and coordinating and enhances patient education.

Allie VanOtterloo, NP-C, has joined UnityPoint Clinic Family Medicine–Sunnybrook. VanOtterloo has an MS in Nursing from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa. She is board certified through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. She joins providers DJ Todt, MD and Sue Handke, ARNP.

Ashlesha Kaushik, MBBS, MD, with UnityPoint Clinic Pediatric Infectious Disease, has been appointed by the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics as an Adjunct Clinical Instructor for the University of Iowa (UI) Carver College of Medicine. Dr. Kaushik will serve a three year term teaching pediatric infectious diseases to UI Carver College of Medicine trainees through the Siouxland Medical Education Foundation (SMEF) residency program and serve as a resident preceptor for the program.


Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha held an official ribbon cutting for its new Visionmobile in September. The Visionmobile is a move vision clinic designed to help address the unmet vision needs of children in the Omaha area. The 33-foot Winnebago is uniquely retrofitted with state-of-the-art vision screen equipment and exam stations for convenient school outreach. It will target schools pre-K to high school with poverty rates of 75 percent or greater with a goal of treating 6,000 student per year.

The following three physicians have joined Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in leadership roles:

John Makari, MD, Section Chief, Pediatric Urology - Dr. Makari received his MD from Ohio State, completed his residency at George Washington University in Washington, DC, and his Pediatric Urology fellowship at Vanderbilt. His areas of clinical interest include genitourinary reconstruction for patients with exstrophy/epispadias complex, neurogenic bladder dysfunction and disorders/differences of sex development.

Russell (Rusty) McCulloh, MD, Division Chief, Pediatric Hospital Medicine - Dr. McCulloh received his MD from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, completed his Internal Medicine-Pediatrics residency at University of Missouri Health Care and did an Infectious Disease fellowship at Brown University. In addition to pediatric hospital medicine, Dr. McCulloh’s clinical interests include infectious diseases.

Jonathan Schwartz, DO, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology - Dr. Schwartz received his doctorate degree of Osteopathic Medicine from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Henderson, Nevada and completed his Pediatrics residency at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. His fellowships in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Neuro-oncology were completed at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit. He is an assistant professor of Pediatrics at UNMC College of Medicine.

Donald Durden, MD, PhD, an internationally renowned pediatric oncologist and researcher specializing in the treatment of children with brain tumors and the development of leading-edge therapeutics, joined the teams at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in September. Durden will be the CHRI’s lead pediatric cancer investigator and help lead its scientific committee, while serving as Associate Director for Pediatric Oncology research at the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. Within the UNMC College of Pharmacy, Durden is Director of Computational Chemistry.

Ann Roemen, MBA, FACMPE, the CEO of the Accountable Care Organization AccoCare in Sioux Falls, has become a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives (ACMPE), the certification entity of the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA). Fellowship in ACMPE demonstrates mastery and expertise in the profession of medical practice management and is the highest level of distinction in the medical practice management profession. Roemen is one of only six in South Dakota who hold this designation.

Yankton native Abigail Reynolds, MD, has joined the family medicine department at Yankton Medical Clinic. Dr. Reynolds earned her BS in biology and chemistry at the University of South Dakota and completed her medical education at USD Sanford School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls.

Cardiologist Steven Miller, MD, has joined the cardiology staff at Prairie Lakes Healthcare System. Dr. Miller received his MD from Creighton University and completed residency at William Beaumont Army Medical Center. He was a Cardiology Fellow at Madigan Army Medical Center.

He is board certified in cardiovascular disease and joins Evelio Garcia, MD, Salem Maaliki, MD, and Jacklyn Karli, CNP.

LifeScape has named Steve Watkins as its new CEO. Watkins is the current CEO of Orion Foods and has worked at Orion for 31 years. He is the Chairman of Sanford Health Plan and a Board member and Past Chair of Children’s Home Society Adoption Committee. Watkins began his work at LifeScape on October 15th but the last day for the current CEO, Anne Rieck McFarland, is not until January 2, 2019

Gabriel Johnson, DO, is now seeing patients at the Viborg Medical Clinic. Dr. Johnson recently finished his Residency in Family Medicine from Ocala Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida.  He also received Residency training in OB/Gyn at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, New York. Dr. Johnson received his DO from Des Moines University and his BS in Biomedical Sciences from Minnesota State in Mankato.  He is a member of the American Academy of Family Practice.

Dr. Joseph Thum and Dr. Lauren Wood Thum have joined Urology Specialists in Sioux Falls. Dr. Joseph Thum was born and raised in Sioux Falls, graduated from the University of Sioux Falls, and earned his MD from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.  After medical school, Dr. Thum completed his general surgery internship and urologic surgery residency at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California.


Dr. Wood Thurm grew up in Newport News, Virginia and earned both her undergraduate degree and MD from the University of Virginia. She completed her urology residency at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and joined Urology Specialists in August after completing a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of California Los Angeles. She is board eligible in both urology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Both doctors joined Urology Specialists in August.

Madison Regional Health System in Madison, S.D. made the 66 critical access hospitals to know list by Becker’s Healthcare. Becker’s Healthcare selected the hospitals based on awards and rankings from organizations including iVantage Health Analytics, The Chartis Group, the National Rural Health Association, CareChex, Healthgrades and Medicare star ratings. They also considered the hospital’s community impact and reputation for innovation. Organizations cannot pay for inclusion on this list.

The first cohort of a new associate of applied science degree in nursing kicked off the semester in Huron in August thanks to an innovative collaboration between Huron Regional Medical Center Foundation, Southeast Technical Institute, Huron University Foundation, Huron Community Campus and several other partners in the region. The seven students enrolled in the program, their sponsors and community partners celebrated with a ribbon cutting at the Huron Community Campus.