Inside Avera on Louise, ‘people are amazed’

Oct. 8, 2019

The first patients won’t be seen on the Avera on Louise campus for another few weeks, but more than two years after breaking ground,  the building is essentially ready for them.

“It feels healthy. The building just feels healthy,” said Dave Flicek, CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

“People are amazed (when they come in). They literally are taken in by the beauty, and I think they feel good in there.”

Avera leaders feel good about what they have built here too, they said. The first building on an 80-acre parcel at the southeast corner of 69th Street and Louise Avenue is approximately 270,000 square feet, with a focus on orthopedics and sports medicine, gastroenterology, urogynecology, rheumatology and internal medicine.

“We picked specialties that meet the population’s growth,” Flicek said.

Bishop Paul Swain blesses the Avera on Louise campus at an opening gala Oct. 4.

Demand on the Avera McKennan campus has created enough capacity issues that it made sense to move some scheduled surgeries and other patient visits to Avera on Louise, he said. The location also is convenient for the 56 percent of patients who come from outside Sioux Falls.

In envisioning the space, Avera looked to its Prairie Center, which opened on the main Avera McKennan campus almost a decade ago and provides cancer care.

“Our goal was to be Prairie Center 2.0,” Flicek said. “A little more modern but yet the same facade – a little more glass and a little less granite. And the horizon theme came through.”

Inside the atrium

A three-story atrium serves as the main entry, connecting the five-story Avera on Louise Specialty Hospital and the three-story Avera Medical Group building.

Walking in, a green “living wall” serves as a focal point in the center, while a wall of water cascades near the entry.

It’s designed to feel like a place of health, vitality and wellness, Avera leaders said.

Farther into the space, “there’s a beautiful staircase that’s as functional as it is beautiful,” said Chad Bare, assistant vice president for Avera on Louise.

“One of the things the orthopedic surgeons want to have patients do is walk up those stairs to get an idea of how they’re doing.”

The atrium includes a retail pharmacy and a bistro, Our Daily Bread, which will be open from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and serve the public as well as Avera on Louise visitors, similar to the Quarry Cafe at the Prairie Center.

“Around the corner is a beautiful fireplace and meditation room,” Bare added. “And the entire north side of the building is glass. The lights above it are incredible.”

The atrium also will serve as a space for Avera events and be offered to nonprofits or other partners to use.

Room to grow

Most patients aren’t expected to spend more than a night or two in the Avera Specialty Hospital, but when they do, they will discover oversized rooms outfitted with a recliner, tile showers and expansive views.

The first procedures are scheduled for Oct. 29.

The goal is to move all orthopedic surgeries, other than orthopedic trauma, from the main Avera McKennan campus. Urogynecology and gastroenterology surgeries also will be done there.

“This is all scheduled (surgery),” said Dick Molseed, Avera Health executive vice president of strategy and governance, while adding the operating rooms are equipped to handle any surgeries should Avera need to do them there.

Sterilization is done in the basement in a setting that also is equipped to be able to handle the rest of Avera’s sterilization needs should it be required. Same goes for the lower-level kitchen.

“We have a lot of redundancy to support not just the hospital but the entire (Avera on Louise) campus in the future,” Flicek said.

There are 24 beds in the inpatient area of the hospital, which will be accessible to family visitors 24 hours a day through a designated entrance.

“And family has the option of coming right back to the pre-op room, and they can stay for the duration of surgery, which limits the amount of moving around we do with patients’ families,” Bare said. “It’s all designed for flow and function.”

The hospital design includes a central core with a lot of natural light and a layout designed to be an optimal work space, Molseed said.

“It becomes very efficient for staff, and that efficiency goes over to patients as well, reducing waiting times, reducing stress.”

The three-story medical office building will see patients for visits in internal medicine and rheumatology beginning in early November and ramping up into early next year. Many of those visits are relocating from the main Avera McKennan campus.

The second floor will be for orthopedic visits.

And both the hospital and the medical office building are opening with room to expand.

“The fifth floor of the hospital is shell space,” Molseed said. “And Dave and Chad have been so successful recruiting physicians we have less shell space on the clinic side than we expected.”

Green touches, growing team

The campus is being developed with sustainability in mind, Avera leaders said.

Two rooftop gardens help cool the building, and one doubles as a large patio overlooking the city.

Lights automatically turn on and off as needed.

“The sisters’ value of stewardship is about being a steward of our resources, from how we compost our trash to how many photocopies we print to turning lights off,” Molseed said of the Presentation and Benedictine orders that sponsor Avera. “It’s an important value to them, and they’re teaching us how to be good stewards of the land.”

The land also is a focal point in the art selected for the campus.

“We have a number of sculptures in the building and lots of photography, some very large but working off the ‘horizons’ theme,” Molseed said. “Lots of photography of flora and panoramic views that are familiar to people of the prairie and horizons.”

The new campus also is helping in recruiting, Flicek said.

“Once they see our building, the work environment they will be in, it helps us attract and retain orthopedic surgeons,” he said. “We hired two rheumatologists this year, another gastroenterologist. They see the building, and Chad has been diligently giving tours as they come to Sioux Falls.”

While more than 300 people initially will work on the Avera on Louise campus, many are moving from other Avera locations and up to half are new positions. Bare estimates the jobs are 98 percent filled.

“There’s just a few openings,” he said. “On the nursing side, there are literally just a few openings, and that’s it. We’ve done very well.”

But they’re far from done building.

Avera on Louise will add the Avera Addiction Care Center to the campus later this year and open its Human Performance Center in early January.

“The new hospital is actually designed to support more hospitals,” Molseed added. “So if we do a hospital expansion, our kitchen is OK. Our pharmacy is OK. Our sterilization is OK. A lot of infrastructure for expansion is built into this building.”

Inside Avera on Louise, ‘people are amazed’

The first patients won’t be seen on the Avera on Louise campus for another few weeks, but more than two years after breaking ground the building is essentially ready for them.

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