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Rachel Bussey
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January 8, 2019
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Avera Health System

Avera – a name derived from a Latin word meaning “to be well” – is synonymous with patient-focused holistic care. With a service footprint covering 72,000 square miles across 86 counties, Avera Health offers expert care in 60 medical specialties. Patients benefit from Avera’s innovative use of technology, as well as the emotional and spiritual emphasis woven into its care model.

Its roots were planted more than a century ago by two orders of religious women – the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, South Dakota and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, South Dakota. The two groups eventually merged their healthcare systems into one, establishing Avera Health on a foundation of faith and service.

Beyond the Name
Avera has exploded across the upper Midwest. Based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, it serves the entire Mount Rushmore State and surrounding areas, including Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota. The health system includes:

  • 6 regional centers
  • 34 hospitals
  • 215 primary and specialty care clinics
  • 40 senior living facilities

Avera also boasts human performance facilities, home medical equipment outlets and home care / hospice services. Avera eCARE® further expands its reach through innovative telemedicine services. With a 25-year history, it is the most comprehensive telehealth service in the world targeting rural healthcare. To date, it has saved over $200 million in healthcare spending and has helped 1.4 million patients.

But Avera doesn’t just provide care – it helps insure it as well. Avera Health Plans has teamed up with DAKOTACARE to provide affordable medical coverage to members across the region through employer-provided plans, individual and Medicare Supplement policies. They currently serve over 130,000 members and consistently receive high ratings from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Making an Impact
For over 30 years, Avera has been a leader in cancer treatment. It recently opened the Helmsley Center in Pierre, South Dakota – its sixth Avera Cancer Institute location. This 57,000-square-foot facility reflects Avera’s commitment to provide thoughtful care with features such as an oncology pharmacy, meditation room, food service area, healing garden and a welcoming atrium. The center offers some of the latest treatment tools, including Elekta radiation technology and contrast-enhanced spectral mammography (CESM).

Avera also strengthened its focus on adolescent health with the recent addition of the Avera Research Institute’s Center for Pediatric and Community Research. The center is staffed with a team of experts who will conduct studies to help answer crucial questions about pediatric health. They will specifically focus on the effects that physical, chemical, biological, social and behavioral environments have on children.

Careflight expansion has been another priority. To better serve its rural residents and improve response times across its service region, Avera has aircrafts in Pierre, Aberdeen and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. These are equipped to be airborne intensive care units and are staffed by highly trained critical care professionals. Avera knows that the sooner a critically ill or injured patient receives specialty care, the better the outcome.

Standing Out
While Avera is known for being a compassionate health ministry, it has also firmly established a reputation for delivering quality care backed by extraordinary medical expertise and cutting-edge technology. It is continually recognized for its commitment to excellence. Avera was recently honored for its innovative use of technology with its 19th Health Care’s Most Wired award and was among the Top 10 Most Wired health organizations in the nation. Its individual facilities have also received recognition in the following categories: Top 20 / Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals, Top 20 Rural Community Hospitals, Hurst Gold Standard of Nursing Award, Becker’s Hospital Review 100 Great Community Hospitals, Blue Distinction Center for Maternity Care by Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services five-star ratings and many more.

Prioritizing People
Community outreach is another important aspect of Avera’s overall mission. From a recent donation to build and maintain the Sioux Falls Veterans’ Cemetery, to a long-standing promise to provide care to all (regardless of anyone’s ability to pay), Avera puts its community first.

It helps address many community needs by providing subsidized health services, as well as charitable support for programs such as food banks and the Ronald McDonald House.

Avera also prioritizes its 18,000 employees. A recent employee engagement survey revealed that 92% of employees are proud to be part of Avera, and about 95% report overall job satisfaction. Avera is committed to creating a dynamic employee experience that attracts top talent and helps retain its most valuable resource – its people.

An Impressive Legacy – An Inspired Future
As Avera continues to pioneer advancements in telehealth, expand its existing specialties and explore new research avenues, SilverStone Group proudly serves as a consulting partner. We are honored to provide Avera with group benefit, risk management and HR consulting services. We look forward to seeing continued success for this healthcare industry leader.

This article originally appeared in the 2018 | ISSUE THREE of the SilverLink magazine, under the title “Avera Health System.” To receive a complimentary subscription to the SilverLink magazine, sign up here.

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