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Senior Program

Our Goal

Our goal is to alleviate the behavioral and psychological symptoms in our senior population, while trying to minimize adverse reactions to available treatment options.

Coordination of Care

As a treatment team, we will work to educate and involve families in treatment. Also, a social worker will work with the patient and family for our treatment and discharge planning process through telephone contacts or meetings set up by the social worker.

Our Commitment to Patient Care

In keeping with the mission given to Avera by the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, we provide a haven of recovery for people with mental illness and their families. This facility was built for the recovery of body, mind and spirit with special attention to offering safety, respect, privacy, dignity and spirituality in a world class facility.

Group therapies

Expressive Therapy offers a venue to find ways to deal with feelings and problems in a variety of ways.

Music Therapy is an opportunity to listen to music to help release daily stressors through encouraging words of song.

Art Therapy is an opportunity to express your thoughts of coping by creating beautiful pieces of art work.

Staying in touch and visiting

As a part of our confidentiality plan for hospitalization, patients and/or power of attorney will be asked to give a list of all parties allowed to receive information and treatment updates during your stay at Avera McKennan Behavioral Health Center.

Unit Phone Numbers

Unit Phone Numbers
Senior Nurses’ Station (605) 322-4010

Telephone Use
Telephones are available between 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Patient phones will be turned off during group sessions. To contact a patient, please call the nurses’ station number; the call will be transferred to the patient phone.

Visiting Times
Visiting hours are Monday - Sunday 1-7 p.m.

Download a map with directions to Avera Behavioral Health Center

Visiting Guidelines
We encourage a healing and calming environment. As a unit, we recommend a limited number of visitors. We encourage visitation in the patients’ rooms to maintain a therapeutic environment, for safety and confidentiality of all patients and visitors. Children 17 and under must be in the presence of a guardian. We encourage visits from family members. If you are unable to visit during the visiting hours posted, please speak with staff for other arrangements. If you wish to bring flowers, please make sure they are in a non-breakable container (no glass please).

Noise Level

At the Avera Behavioral Health Center, we strive to provide excellent, courteous care. At times, noise levels on the unit can be louder than normal, and we ask your help in keeping noise at a minimum.

What to bring


For patient safety and security of belongings, we will take inventory and will keep belongings secure on the unit. For your safety and the safety of others, the following items are not allowed on the unit:

Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, anything flammable, alcohol or items with alcohol in the ingredients, drugs, medications, anything sharp, glass or anything breakable, belts, clothing with strings or with inappropriate graphics/writing, short shorts or skirts, cell phones and cameras.

Recommended Items

We recommend three days’ worth of clothing. On the senior program, staff will wash your clothes every day. The unit has a washer and dryer as needed; laundry soap will be provided.

  • Pants (preferably pants with elastic)
  • T-shirt (long sleeve, short, ¾ sleeve)
  • Sweatshirts (cardigans, sweaters)
  • Socks and slippers
  • Underwear
  • Pajama tops, bottoms or gowns
  • Robes without tie belt
  • Shoes

Hygiene Items

We do provide electric shavers, shampoo, bars of soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, combs, and lotion. In the case that you use a special shampoo or soap, please feel free to bring it. We ask the following be taken into consideration when selecting specific hygiene products to bring:

  • No straight edge razors
  • No aerosol cans
  • No electric toothbrushes
  • No mouthwash with alcohol in it
  • No tweezers
  • No hand-held mirrors

There is no need to have cash on hand, as complementary hygiene items, snacks and beverages will be provided during your stay.


Time Monday-Friday Saturday-Sunday
6 Personal Hygiene Time Personal Hygiene Time
8 Breakfast Breakfast
9 Expressive Therapy Expressive Therapy
10 Spirituality Group (select days and times) Personal Time
11 Music Therapy Personal Time
12 Lunch Lunch
1-7 Visiting Hours Visiting Hours
2 Art Therapy Expressive Therapy
4 Worship Service (Wednesday only) Personal Time
5 Dinner Dinner
8 Prepare for Bed Prepare for Bed
10 Good Night! Good Night!

Keeping our patients safe

Safety is of utmost importance. The treatment team’s number one goal is to ensure a safe environment to seek care.

Providing a Safe Environment

The treatment team will work with patients and families to develop a plan to maintain patient safety both while as a patient at Avera and after discharge from our facility. Please be honest in disclosing your thoughts and feelings so we may better serve you.

Safety Measures

Measures taken to ensure safety at Avera include, but are not limited to, the following:

Building Security: You will notice there are sets of locked doors at the Avera Behavioral Health Center. These locked doors provide a safe, confidential, private and therapeutic area to begin the healing process. Instructions and telephones are posted by each door for visitors to gain entry to the unit.

Personal Belongings: Staff will inventory and check all personal belongings upon admission as well as any items brought in by visitors thereafter. Any items deemed unsafe by the team will be kept in a secure, designated area. These items will be returned upon discharge. Inappropriate or excessive personal belongings, valuables and cash over $10 will be sent home with family or friends.

Wardrobes: In order to assure a safe environment, all patient wardrobes will be locked in their room closet when not in use. When a patient needs to access wardrobes, staff will unlock the closet.

Belts and Suspenders: Due to safety concerns, no patient will not be allowed to wear belts or suspenders unless orders are given by a physician.

Observation: Staff will monitor safety throughout the stay. On the Senior Unit, all patients are accounted for and checked on every 15 minutes. If at any time you feel unsafe with yourself or others, please do not hesitate to inform staff. If you suspect, hear or witness any unsafe behavior, you are asked to disclose this to a staff member immediately.

Room Checks: Common areas and patient rooms will be checked at least two times each day. Any unsafe items will be removed from the area and stored in a secure location.

Reducing our Patients’ Fall Risk

We want to keep our patients as safe as possible while in the hospital. Like anywhere else, accidental falls may occur. Several factors may increase a person’s fall risk:

  • Unfamiliar Surrounding
  • Not eating or drinking for periods of time
  • Medication
  • Tubes or other equipment attached to a patient’s body

Review the following guidelines to learn how to help prevent falls.

  • Follow the doctor’s orders and/or nurse’s instructions whether to stay in bed or get help when getting up.
  • Wear low heeled, non-skid slippers or shoes while walking.
  • Sit on the edge of the bed for a short time before standing up. Getting up too quickly may make a person feel faint or dizzy.
  • Keep personal items within reach.
  • Use the call light to request assistance in getting up from bed or in the bathroom (see below).

Pad or tab fall alarms may be used in patients’ chairs and/or beds to prevent falls from occurring. If a patient does fall during their hospital stay, the power of attorney or contact person for that patient will be notified by the patient’s nurse.

Guide to Bed Safety

Half side rails at the head are available on all beds on the unit and are used for all patients. Benefits of side rails include:

  • Aiding in turning and repositioning within the bed
  • Providing a hand-hold for getting into or out of bed
  • Providing a feeling of comfort and security

Patients who have problems with memory, sleeping, incontinence, pain, uncontrolled body movement or who get out of bed and walk unsafely without assistance will be carefully assessed to determine how to keep them from harm, such as from a fall.

Call Light System

Call lights are available in each room on the Senior Program. The call light is a button on the wall in the patient’s bathroom and one near the patient’s bed. A corded call light may be used for patients who are unable to reach for the button and are not on extra safety precautions. When the call light is pushed, a light will flash outside the patient’s room and a bell sound will be heard, notifying staff of a patient who needs help. Staff members may go directly to the patient’s room or since the call lights are connected to an intercom system, staff members at the nurse’s station are able to communicate with a patient in their room.

Discharge planning

Discharge planning is an ongoing process that begins at the time of admission.

Preparing for Discharge

To prepare for discharge, nursing staff and/or a social worker will provide regular treatment and discharge planning updates to patients and family members. Contacts will be made with health care representatives (power of attorney, guardian) if a patient is unable to represent themselves in health care decisions. If a patient lives in a supervised living facility (nursing home or assisted living facility) regular contacts will be made with a facility representative.

Occasionally it may be necessary to make a decision to change the place of residence upon discharge (moving from home to supervised living facility or from one facility to another). The social worker will work with patients and families to help facilitate this move.

Communicating With Hometown Doctors

Under the continuum of care, we are able to provide hometown doctors, counselors, and case managers with a summary of treatment received at Avera. Please speak to the social worker or unit nurse if you would like records sent to any of the local providers.

Making Follow-up Appointments

An important part of managing illness is good follow-up care with providers in the community. The treatment team will work with patients, healthcare representatives, and/or supervised living facilities to schedule appointments to provide on-going management of health care needs, and if deemed beneficial, individual or family therapy. Please share preferences for follow-up care with the social worker.

Day of Discharge

On the day of discharge, a psychiatrist or resident will write discharge orders. These orders will include details about what medicines to be taking and also any other follow-up needed. The nurse will prepare discharge instructions. This will include scheduled appointments, and a medication list. Prescriptions for your medications will also be provided at this time.

A survey covering patient care will be given to the patient or health care representative. Your time to complete this survey is appreciated.

If a patient will be discharging to a supervised living facility, the discharged/transfer orders will be sent to the facility. Your social worker can also discuss transportation options.

Paying for your stay

We will provide you with assistance in navigating your insurance coverage and will also help you establish a plan to pay for your hospital stay.

Insurance Pre-Certification

When you are admitted to Avera McKennan, we start working for you by verifying your insurance benefits and calling our insurance company to preauthorize your admission. Our case manager will continue to follow up with your insurance company periodically to make sure you are covered throughout your stay. If you have any concerns about your insurance coverage, please ask to speak to your case manager.

Questions about Your Bill

If you do not have any insurance coverage or have balances due after your insurance has paid your claim, Avera McKennan will work with you to make appropriate financial arrangements. Contact the Avera McKennan Business Office by calling (605) 322-6400.

We understand concern about your personal financial responsibilities can adversely affect your mental health. Our office staff is trained to help alleviate that concern. Contact them at:

Avera McKennan Business Office:
(605) 322-6400 • 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. • Monday – Friday

Additional Customer Service Numbers:
Medicare: 1-800-247-2267
SD Division of Insurance: (605) 773-3653

Who we serve

The Senior Program at the Avera Behavioral Health Center focuses on the comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms.

Areas of Emphasis

There are a wide variety of biological conditions that are commonly treated on the Senior Program. Some common examples include:


Dementia is a syndrome of memory changes and functional decline that result in a person’s loss of independent abilities. There are many varieties of dementia, including: Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Front Temporal Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease with Dementia, and Vascular Dementia. Our focus is the identification of the underlying cause of the disease. Then we look at appropriate treatment options and necessary supports in order to provide care during and following hospitalization.

Behavioral Problems

Behavioral problems often manifest in interactions between people. They can include physical agitation or restlessness, physical aggression toward self or others, or vocally disruptive behaviors such as calling out or yelling. Additionally, people may become disoriented; they may wander and lack the awareness to care for themselves. These symptoms are usually associated with other psychiatric conditions, medical illness, or pain. We look to use both behavioral interventions and medications as necessary to reduce and treat these symptoms.

Affective Symptoms

Depression: This is a condition that can present in many different ways, particularly as we age. It may involve feeling sad, crying, loss of energy, social isolation and thoughts of suicide. We use both medication and therapeutic modalities for treatment and recovery.

Bipolar Disorder: This condition of elevated and depressed mood states can occur and continue into older adulthood. It may also have its first occurrence after the age of 65.

Anxiety: This is a group of symptoms that can have a wide variety of features. Anxiety can present as depression, chronic worry, fears, obsessions, panic attacks and even phobias. Examples can include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or Social Phobia.

Psychotic Symptoms

These include hallucinations, delusional beliefs and disorganized thought processes. They can occur with mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder. Additionally, they occur with Schizophrenia, Dementia or Delirium. Resolution of these symptoms includes understanding the underlying cause and treating each condition.


Delirium is an organic disorder that causes confusion, disorientation, and memory loss. It is different than dementia in that it causes a change in level of consciousness. The delirious person also can have difficulty with attention, may be agitated and be hallucinating. Symptoms occur rapidly. There is usually a marked change in a person relatively quickly. Delirium can be caused by a medical problem: congestive heart failure, urinary tract infection, liver failure, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Medical support team

Senior Medical Team

We form a multi-disciplinary treatment team based on your individual needs.

Medical Team

The Attending Psychiatrists: are physicians who lead the medical team by developing an overall strategy to manage symptoms. They provide evaluations, prescribe medications, and may offer other therapeutic interventions.

Psychiatry Residents: As a teaching hospital partnering with the USD Sanford School of Medicine, our Psychiatry Residents, who are medical doctors, are receiving additional education and training in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatry Residents work closely with the attending psychiatrist and medical team to assist in the treatment plan.

Physician Assistants and Certified Nurse Practitioners: Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners may partner with attending psychiatrists to assist in treatment.

Internal Medicine Doctors: An internal medicine doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant may join your medical team at the request of your attending psychiatrist. The internal medicine doctor will address any medical health issues during the stay.

Chaplaincy Services: Partners in Healing

Our Chaplaincy staff is an ecumenical team of priests, sisters, ministers, deacons and trained laity who regularly visit patients and families and respond to referrals from the hospital staff. Our Chaplaincy staff seeks to respect the religious and spiritual beliefs and traditions of all the patients and families we serve. We work in collaboration with the pastors and religious leaders of our patients and will gladly contact pastors or religious community upon request.

A Spirituality/Devotional Group Session is also held for the inpatient units. Check with staff regarding times and locations at the end of this description.

Dismiss all anxiety from your minds. Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude. Then God’s own peace, with is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4: 6-7

Senior Support Staff

Nursing staff: Nursing staff oversees and orchestrates the overall functioning of the hospital unit. Patients will be assigned a nurse who will work with them to determine needs. Nursing staff will also be an advocate in communicating needs to the treatment team.

Social Workers: Social workers help prepare and organize patients, families and facilities for discharge by connecting with community resources. Social workers also keep families and professional support system updated regarding treatment progress.

Patient Care Technicians: Patient care technicians help with activities of daily living, ensure a safe environment, help with treatment goals, and help make the hospital stay as comfortable as possible.

Expressive Therapists: An art therapist, music therapist, and recreational therapists lead interactive groups during the hospital stay. These groups give the opportunity to learn new methods of coping with daily stressors.

Case Manager: Case managers contact insurance companies during the admission process to make sure insurance companies are aware of hospitalization.

Psychologists: A psychologist may join the treatment team at the request of the attending psychiatrist. Psychologists provide individual and family therapy and/or psychological testing.

Registered Dieticians and Dietary Assistant: Our dietician’s goal is to promote optimal nutrition status for all patients and make recommendations as needed.

Health Unit Coordinator: The health unit coordinator provides secretarial support to your treatment team.

Nurse Manager: Our nurse manager and other management staff want to guarantee that we are providing you with very good care everyday. We appreciate any feedback you can give us to help improve our services.

Our Facility Team

Food Service: Our food service staff is led by a professional chef providing three nutritious meals per day. Food service also provides a variety of snack items available through the pantry on the unit.

Housekeeping: Housekeeping staff members keep the building looking clean and tidy by keeping rooms and day areas clean.

Security: Security staff are available in the building 24/7 for safety and security.

Maintenance: Our maintenance staff works hard to maintain the appearance and functionality of the building.

Avera Medical Minute: TMS Therapy

Watch Dr. Matt Stanley and a patient discuss TMS Therapy.

National Institute of Mental Health Outreach Partnership Program

View updates regarding our partnership program and other available resources.