$17.25M Avera expansion coming to Aberdeen for behavioral, women's health, other services

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The west half of Avera St. Luke's Physicians Plaza will be removed to allow for the construction of a new stand-alone behavioral health facility.
The west half of Avera St. Luke's Physicians Plaza will be removed to allow for the construction of a new stand-alone behavioral health facility.

Avera St. Luke's has announced plans to invest $17.25 million to expand three departments in Aberdeen — behavioral health, women's services and orthopedics.

The work will be funded through a combination of money set aside for capital improvements and fundraising done by the Avera Foundation.

The improvements will be happening at the same time during the next 18 to 24 months, according to information from Avera. Two projects include the renovation of existing space. A third involves the construction of a new, free-standing in-patient behavioral health facility with clinic services for mental health care and well-being, according to a news release from Avera.

“Avera St. Luke’s has provided in-patient behavioral health care in our hospital in the past, yet this is an opportunity to bring those services up to date with this new free-standing facility that incorporates both in-patient and clinic services," Tom Seyer, chairman of the Avera St. Luke’s Hospital Board of Trustees, said in the release.

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The new facility will be built next to the Avera St. Luke's Physicians Plaza. To make that work, the west half of Physicians Plaza, which is the oldest section, will be demolished.

Physicians Plaza is in the 200 block of South Lloyd Street on the the northeast side of the Avera St. Luke's campus. Construction is expected to begin later this summer or fall, according to Kelli Fischer, chief nursing officer at Avera St. Luke's. But, she said, as there is some space that isn't used at Physician's Plaza, none of the services there will be affected.

"The services currently at Physicians Plaza will fit nicely with what's currently there," she said. "Nothing will move."

Fischer said Avera continues to work with architects on a final design, but the new behavioral health center is expected to expand the number of inpatient beds from 10 to 18.

Urgent care for mental health

Once completed, it will provide urgent care services for mental and emotional health, which currently aren't offered in Aberdeen and were recently added in Sioux Falls, according to the release.

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“This concept is cutting-edge and rare across the country. It’s providing that special environment for behavioral health crises and provides a front door to mental health services that’s more appropriate than the medical emergency department,” Fischer said in the release.

Once completed, she said, the space now used for behavioral health services on the second floor of Avera St. Luke's Hospital will have more room for physicians.

Avera St. Luke's provides services for a 90-mile region in which there isn't another in-patient psychiatric option, Fischer said.

While the expansion will result in a need for additional staff, Cale Feller, director of media relations and corporate communications for Avera, said the 18-to-24 month window for construction should allow plenty of time for recruitment.

Avera Foundation funds women's center improvements

Renovations to the women’s center on the fourth floor of Avera St. Luke's have already begun. Financial support for the project has come through fundraising by the Avera Foundation.

“This larger overall project is a chance to enhance these plans. Focused on the comfort of patients and families, this will be a modernized, private and peaceful environment for every stage of birthing, from admission to delivery and postpartum,” Tess Moeller, vice president of operations at Avera St. Luke’s, said in the release.

Fischer said the makeover will include new a new lobby area that is more comforting and family-friendly, as well as suites to serve different purposes like an operating room suite and an angel suite for those instances in which families are have to deal with a death.

Renovations planned for orthopedics clinic

Renovation work is also planned at the clinic for orthopedics and related specialties, including physical medicine and rehabilitation, pain management and therapy. That building is at 701 Eighth Ave. N.W.

Avera St. Luke's has announced plans to renovate the space at Avera Orthopedics for orthopedics and related specialties that include physical medicine, rehabilitation, pain management and therapy.
Avera St. Luke's has announced plans to renovate the space at Avera Orthopedics for orthopedics and related specialties that include physical medicine, rehabilitation, pain management and therapy.

The planned renovations will modernize the existing space and accommodate a new MRI machine, according to the release.

Fischer said Avera is working with architects on the final plans.

Behavioral health center construction starts this summer

Construction of the new behavioral health center will begin in late summer and be done in phases. All departments would remain fully operational throughout the project.

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“Overall, this is a significant investment to modernize, improve and expand health care services in our community,” Seyer said in the release. “It will provide our excellent health care teams in Aberdeen with the tools and facilities they need to advance the care and well-being of those we serve in the Avera St. Luke’s region.”

Editor's note: Information about the construction timeframe for these projects has been corrected in this story.

This article originally appeared on Aberdeen News: Avera St. Luke's in Aberdeen to expand mental health, women's services