Our caregivers are guided by the gospel values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship and are supported by the resources and expertise of Avera Health, the region's largest health system.
Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital, a 28-bed hospital in Wessington Springs, South Dakota, was originally established in 1947 as Jerauld County Hospital to honor those residents of Jerauld County who lost their lives in WWII. In 1945, the Wessington Springs Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to investigate the possibility of establishing a hospital in the town. The original hospital was established in the remodeled boys' dormitory building known as the McConnell House and was funded through the efforts of 80 Jerauld County men who each advanced one hundred dollars, plus an additional $35,000 which was netted through the sale of bonds. A bronze plaque was dedicated to the memory of county residents who lost their lives in WWII. From that time on, much of the responsibility rested with the county commissioners and the temporary committee they appointed.
In 1953, a group of women met to form an auxiliary. Dues were one dollar. The auxiliary established a nursing scholarship of $150, which recipients often repaid by working in the local hospital for one year. The auxiliary also hosted several events, helped with sewing, canning and other projects. The sale of gifts and candy bars helped supply needed funds. Candy stripers (school students) were sponsored by the group and received uniforms and caps made by auxiliary members.
That same year, Memorial Hospital contracted for Crow Creek Indian care and crowded conditions at the hospital promoted the application for an approval of a $45,000 Hill-Burton grant for an addition. The grant, plus $65,000 approved by the county, provided ample funds for the enlargement and in 1955, the new addition was formally dedicated. A total of 1069 patients were admitted that year, including 130 births. In the spring of that same year, the Gray Ladies organization was formed which did volunteer work directly with patients. The Gray Ladies organization eventually dissolved and the Auxiliary continued on.
In 1967, Lutheran Hospital and Homes Society were invited to provide administration of Memorial Hospital and a new hospital advisory board was formed. In 1976, the Wessington Springs hospital board was advised that the present facility did not meet state requirements and would have to be renovated or razed. Although funding was not available locally, word was received from U.S. Representative James Abnor that a federal grant totaling $1.5 million was a possibility and eventually an Economic Development Administration federal grant in that amount made construction possible; groundbreaking for a new facility was held in May 1977. The project was completed in 1979.
The new hospital was built adjoining the existing Weskota Manor and the Weskota Manor Board became responsible for the operation of both facilities. In 1979, the Jerauld County Commissioners and the Weskota Manor Board of Directors entered into an agreement with Lutheran Hospital and Homes for the operation and management responsibility for the new Weskota Memorial Medical Center, which began operations in March of that same year. The project's initial purpose was to provide jobs in the community, but the long-range benefits were to be the continued need to provide health care, thus making a healthy economic impact on the community. Special counseling services were added to the existing medical and dental facilities. A metal box containing pictures, newspaper clippings, and mementos of the day were placed in a wall of the building and was to be opened in 40 years.
In 1987, Weskota Memorial Medical Center entered into a management agreement with Huron Regional Medical Center. In 2000, the Jerauld County Commissioners requested that Weskota Memorial Medical Center, licensed for 28 beds, partner with Avera Health. A ten-year lease agreement with Avera Health became effective June 1, 2000 and the Weskota Memorial Medical Center employees became employees of Avera Queen of Peace. The name of the facility became Avera Weskota Memorial Medical Center. At the time of the contract, the population of Wessington Springs, located 40 miles northwest of Mitchell, was 1,083. In June of 2007 the Jerauld County Commissioners and Avera Queen of Peace Health Services renegotiated a 20-year lease.
Renovation & Expansion
Building a Healthy Community: Hospital Renovation & Expansion
Avera Weskota Memorial Medical Center hosted an Open House on Sunday, September 14, 2008 to showcase the completion of its renovation and expansion which broke ground on February 14, 2007. Patients are benefiting from the renovation and expansion through improved patient privacy, expanded out-patient services and greater patient convenience. The project remodeled approximately 8,100 square feet of existing space and added 5,000 square feet of new space. Areas that were renovated include a new main entry & covered patient drop-off, nurses' station, surgery, emergency room, laboratory and inpatient wing. Surgical facilities have been improved for out-patient medical services such as colonoscopies, gastroscopies, and other surgical procedures. A renovated operating and recovery room will improve patient flow. Privacy is improved through the addition of a private consultation room available for discussions between medical providers and family members. Relocating the emergency room closer to the nurses' station improves access to patients. Several offices have been consolidated for improved efficiency.
The renovation created space for an on-site Computerized Axial Tomography (CT) Room. This is an important early diagnostic tool. Dr. Tom Dean, Chief of Medical Staff and Capital Campaign Co-Chair said "Access to CT scanning has become a standard of care and reconfiguring the facility to meet the needs of increased out-patient services is a great benefit to both patients and medical providers." Roger Hainy, rural farmer/rancher and Co-Chair of the Hospital Capital Campaign added "Because of the rural nature of our area it is important to have an updated healthcare facility nearby, rather than losing precious time during an emergency to travel to a facility in another community." The enclosed walkway between Weskota Apartments and the Healthcare Campus has improved safety and accessibility. Physical Therapy, Cardiac Rehab and Wellness are now consolidated into one area so that equipment can be shared. The new community room allows space for support groups, educational programs and wellness classes. Our modern facility with advanced technology not only offers the best care to our patients in a rural area, but also helps attract and maintain physicians and healthcare staff.
Over $640,000 was pledged to the Capital Campaign over a period of 5 years. The county committed $750,000 from hospital designated reserves. A county-wide vote was held to approve the use of general obligation bonds up to $1.5 million to complete the project. A Community Development Block Grant was received in the amount of $309,000. The building and equipment are owned by Jerauld County. The facility is leased by Avera Queen of Peace Health Services in Mitchell.
Technology Brings Quality and Access to Rural Health Care
CT Scanner (Computerized Axial Tomography)
On-site Cat Scans provide precise images of bones, organs & internal bleeding and will result in earlier diagnosis. This life-saving technology will save time and travel expenses for patients.
PACS (Picture Archive Communication System)
PACS stores and displays digital images which can be accessed by other locations in a highly efficient manner using secure, web-based software.
This equipment allows for on-site mammography services for screening and early detection of breast cancer.
EMR (Electronic Medical Records)
A patient's complete medical record is electronic and available immediately to staff and physicians within the network for improved patient safety, care and satisfaction.
e-Emergency (Telehealth Emergency Response)
Wall mounted video equipment allows two-way collaboration between rural health professionals and off-site physicians and specialists for trauma and emergency patients.
Moblie eICU (Electronic Intensive Care)
Mobile eICU carts with two-way video equipment and monitoring devices connect off-site physicians and specialists to critically ill patients.
ePharmacy (Electronic Pharmacy)
Patient Medication orders are electronic. This allows orders to be reviewed and approved 24 hours a day.
Other Diagnostic Imaging Services:
- EKG 24-hours a day
- Nuclear Imaging
- Cardiovascular Services
- General Ultrasound
Mission and Values
Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.
Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital will exceed the expectations of those we serve.
In caring together for life, we are guided by the gospel values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship.
Avera Weskota Memorial Hospital Advisory Board
- Charles Bergeleen, Chairperson
- Diane Fastnacht, Vice-Chairperson
- Cindy Peterson, Secretary-Treasurer
- Gaea Blue, CEO
- Dr. Tom Dean
- Tom Clark
- Peggy Fagerhaug
- Marla Feistner
- Fred Krohmer
- Tammy Mettler
- Evelyn Wulff
- Pat Jones, Chairperson
- Julie Kraft, Vice-Chairperson
- Kathy Dean, Secretary-Treasurer
- Gaea Blue, CEO
- Quinten Burg
- Jim Deines
- Fred Krohmer
- Jeff Mengenhausen
- Nikki VonEye
- Staff - Kim Burg, Marketing/Foundation Coordinator
- Staff - Jerry Soholt, Avera Foundation