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About Avera Health Plans

Avera Health Plans is a wholly owned subsidiary of Avera Health and has obtained a Certificate of Authority to operate as a health maintenance organization (HMO) in the states of South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

In business since 1998, our network includes primary care providers, specialists, hospitals and other health care professionals who work together to meet your health care needs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Our Sponsors, Governance & Member Services

About Our Sponsors

Benedictine and Presentation Sisters

The Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery trace the origin of their religious order to St. Benedict, a fifth century monk.

The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary were founded by Nano Nagle, an 18th Century Irish woman who helped the poor.

St. Benedict

Historians believe that St. Benedict of Nursia lived from about 480 to 547. Today, we have only two sources through which to know about him: a set of guidelines, called his Rule, which he wrote for people living a monastic way of life; and a brief description of him penned by Gregory the Great about 50 years after Benedict's death.

When it came time for the young Benedict to pursue higher education, he went off to Rome to study liberal arts. However, once there and looking around at the way so many fellow students were decaying spiritually, he decided to avoid such a fate, give up his classical education, and go out to the remote hill country of Subiaco to live in a cave where he thought he could encounter and learn about God.

Over time Benedict did encounter and learn about God. Other people, who had come out to the wilderness for similar reasons, recognized Benedict's leadership abilities and his common sense in living a monastic style of life. When they asked him to put in writing some of his principles for monastic living, he wrote his Rule.

For three-quarters of Christian history, men and women monks have used his Rule to guide their monastery life. Coming together to live a celibate communal life, with a spiritual leader chosen by the community, these men and women give themselves to the Lord's service. Knowing that the divine presence is everywhere, they listen attentively in all circumstances for sounds of the Lord, sounds guiding them as a community and as individuals to actions on the Lord's behalf. Among Benedictine men and women of past and present, one can find musicians and artists, preachers and liturgists, farmers and bakers, doctors and lawyers, scholars and writers. And in all these works, these women and men carry out the essential work of seeking God, preferring nothing whatever to Christ.

Nano Nagle

Nano Nagle founded the Presentation Sisters more than 175 years ago in Ireland. She was born in Ireland and lived there until she was a teenager, at which time her parents sent her to France to study. She loved the "good life" in France, often staying out into the early hours of the morning, enjoying parties and fancy balls. As a young woman, she was oblivious to the problems of her people back in Ireland, who were suffering for their faith under the country's Penal Laws.

In time, however, through the example of her sister Ann who worked to help the poor, Nano experienced a conversion. She began to think about the small children of her home city who were growing up without knowledge of their faith because the Penal Laws threatened imprisonment or death to anyone caught teaching the Catholic faith to others. As a result, Nano went back to Ireland, to her hometown, Cork, and began, at great risk, to teach the faith to small groups of children in what were called 'hedgerow' schools.

For many years Nano organized and managed these schools. In time, she was educating several hundred children in a number of schools hidden away in parts of Cork. Eventually the authorities discovered what she was doing but decided to hold off arresting her to see whether "any real trouble" resulted from her activities.

In addition to her work of teaching, Nano, after spending most of the day with children, would then spend her evenings visiting the sick and elderly in the slum areas of Cork. This is where she got the nickname, the Lady of the Lantern, because she would go from hovel to hovel carrying a lantern so as to see her way through the city's dark and narrow lanes.

Governance

Governance

Community governing boards define goals for Avera’s not-for-profit sponsored and managed institutions and assure that local health care needs are met in appropriate ways.

The Avera Health Board of Directors defines system-wide mission, vision and goals, keeping in mind the health needs of the entire region. The 16-member Board includes Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, physicians and business and community leaders from several locations in the Avera Health service region.

The Avera Health Board of Consultors is a 50-member group of trustees, physicians and administrators from throughout the region. The Board of Consultors meets twice yearly to advise the Avera Health President on health care issues and to promote system-wide sharing of ideas, experience and professional resources.

Avera Health’s sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Yankton, S.D. and the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen, S.D. delegate sponsorship responsibilities for their combined health ministry to a group of six Sisters—three from each community—called the System Members.

System Services

Services Provided by Avera

Avera Health assists its partners by providing “back office” support services, such as legal consultation, quality benchmarking, coding, computer services, contract negotiations, administrative consultation, group purchasing, human resource assistance and many other services. The support services are provided by staff at the Avera Health Central Office and at Avera’s five regional centers: Avera St. Luke’s in Aberdeen S.D., Avera Queen of Peace in Mitchell S.D., Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls S.D., Avera Sacred Heart in Yankton, S.D. and Avera Marshall in Marshall, Minn. Because the costs of the support services are shared, local caregivers are able to devote more resources to patient and resident care.

Avera Health includes sponsored partners and managed/leased partners. Sponsored partners are those institutions for which the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters retain some governance powers and imbue with their values and mission. Managed/leased partners are those institutions that have contracted for full management services with Avera Health and one of its four regional centers. Avera also provides specific services on an a la carte basis to health facilities without full management contracts.

The Avera Health Administrative Council is responsible for Avera Health operations, services and programs. The President’s Council includes members of the Administrative Council and the Presidents of Avera’s sponsored facilities.

Ethical & Religious Directives

Avera Health abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

The purpose of the Ethical and Religious Directives is twofold:

(1) To reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church’s teaching about the dignity of the human person;

(2) To provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.

Mission, Vision, Values

Mission

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.

Vision

Working with its partners, Avera shall provide a quality, cost-effective health ministry, which reflects Gospel values. We shall improve the health care of the people we serve through a regionally integrated network of persons and institutions.

Values

In caring together for life, the Avera community is guided by the gospel values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship.

Compassion: The compassion of Jesus, especially for the poor and the sick of body and spirit, shapes the manner in which health care is delivered by Avera's employees, physicians, administrators, volunteers and sponsors. Compassionate caring is expressed through sensitive listening and responding, understanding, support, patience and healing touch.

Hospitality: The encounters of Jesus with each person were typified by openness and mutuality. A welcoming presence, an attentiveness to needs, and a gracious manner, seasoned with a sense of humor, are expressions of hospitality in and by the Avera community.

Stewardship: Threaded through the mission of Jesus was the restoration of all the world to right relationship with its Creator. In that same spirit and mission, the members of Avera treat persons, organizational power and earth's resources with justice and responsibility. Respect, truth and integrity are foundational to right relationships among those who serve, and those who are served.

Beliefs Statement

Avera Beliefs Statement

From the earliest traditions of the church to the present day, the mission of evangelization to which Jesus sent His followers has included healing as a major part. "Into whatever city you go, after they welcome you... cure the sick there. Say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand.'"*

Members of the church follow the example of Jesus, therefore, when they carry out the work of healing -- not only by providing care for the physically ill, but also by working to restore health and wholeness in all facets of the human person and the human community. Wholeness in the Christian perspective includes not only the physical and emotional, but also spiritual and social.*

In this spirit Avera pursues a special vocation to share in carrying forth God's life-giving and healing work. In addition, the persons and institutions allied together as Avera share these beliefs.

  • God permeates all moments of human experience and is present to every person in health as well as sickness, in life as well as death.
  • We support life from conception to death, believing the journey of life, including the beginning and the end, are gifts of the Creator, entrusted to us for reverent care.
  • The core values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship guide our caregivers and our service.
  • Justice and mercy demand our advocacy for the poor, the frail and the at-risk persons of our society; all persons have a right to basic health care.
  • Our management decisions and delivery of care are motivated by the health and wellness of patients, their families and communities.
  • Our employees, physicians and community partners are our most valuable resources.

Avera is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Benedict of Sacred Heart Monastery of Yankton, S.D. and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Aberdeen, S.D. In accord with its Catholic mission, Avera adheres to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

Social and institutional wellness are best promoted through joined efforts of various religious and community-sponsored institutions. Choosing collaboration and empowerment enables us to be better stewards of our human, financial, technical and environmental resources.

* Pastoral letter on Health & Health Care, U.S. Catholic Bishops, 1983

Our History

Our History

The ministry of the Benedictine Sisters has roots that run 15 centuries deep to Rome and the founders of the Benedictines, St. Benedict of Nursia and his twin sister St. Scholastica. The “Rule” St. Benedict wrote for monastic living continues to guide monastic life today. Benedictine Sisters first came to South Dakota from Maryville, Mo. at the invitation of Bishop Martin Marty, OSB to work in the new Dakota Territory and start a new foundation. They homesteaded in Zell, South Dakota, and then took over the bishop’s house and school in Yankton. Their rich health care tradition began in 1897 when Bishop Thomas O’Gorman asked them to convert their academy and orphanage into Sacred Heart Hospital in response to the need for a clean, quiet place for the sick and injured.

Called to Care for the Sick

The roots of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary are Irish and began with the zeal of an Irish woman, Nano Nagle, who redirected her life and wealth to the needs of the education of the poor and night-time ministry to the poverty-ridden elderly and sick in her hometown. In the late 19th century, three Presentation Sisters from Ireland responded to the call to come to Dakota Territory to educate the children of the Lakota Sioux and those of the European settlers, as well. As the territory grew, the new Dakota community of Presentation women did, too. Presentation College in Aberdeen became a leader in providing teachers and nurses to the rural area. At the turn of the century, the Sisters began caring for victims of diphtheria and typhoid epidemics in their homes and in their schools, opening St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen in 1901.

As the Sisters heeded the Gospel call to care for the sick, their health care ministries grew. By treating every sick person as a child of God, they hoped to reveal God’s love to the world. Through a century of prudent and able administration, the Sisters met the challenges of an ever-changing health care system. In the early years, they borrowed to build hospitals for the people of the region and kept their ministries alive and flourishing during hard times. Mid-century, they met and often exceeded community expectations for quality care, specialized skills and technology. In the 1960s and 1970s they cooperated with government programs while assuring Gospel values, pastoral care and mission awareness would continue to be evident in their hospitals and nursing homes.

Presentation Health System

In 1978 the Presentation Sisters formed the Presentation Health System to combine the strengths of their individual institutions. In like manner, the Benedictine Sisters formed the Benedictine Health System of Yankton in 1987. The new organizations made it easier for the facilities to share the costs of expertise in areas of reimbursement coding, legal affairs, personnel management, employee benefit administration, bill collection and risk management. In a first step toward the eventual union of their health ministries, the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters formed the Benedictine-Presentation Health Alliance, and under its aegis began sponsoring an annual health care ethics conference.

Avera

Revitalizing their century-long commitment to the health care ministry, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Monastery announced in September 2000, that henceforth they would cosponsor Avera and the individual institutions they had previously sponsored separately. This action completed a process that began in 1998 when they chose one family name, Avera for their health care facilities, and added the Avera name to the existing names of their hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. In doing so, the two communities modeled the ultimate collaboration by integrating their respective health ministries in order to strengthen their ability to serve the people of the region.

Our Name

Our Name

Avera means "to be well."

The most prominent element of the Avera logo is a cross, symbolizing the Christian heritage and mission of Avera's partners. The design elements below the cross can be interpreted as hands, open and lifted up as in prayer, or doves, a Christian symbol of peace and hope. Both the design and its color, a deep green, are intended to convey hope and renewal, qualities significant in Christian belief and also particularly relevant in our predominantly rural area of the country.

 

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