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Avera Sacred Heart History

Avera Sacred Heart Opens in 1897

In 1897, Bishop Thomas O’Gorman prevailed upon the Benedictine Sisters of Sacred Heart Convent in Yankton to enter an entirely new field of service: care of the sick and injured. That challenge was quickly met and the Benedictine Sisters, who had been primarily trained as teachers, soon became nurses. Opened in November 1897, Sacred Heart Hospital was a 30-bed hospital located in a remodeled building that formerly served as a girls’ academy, Indian school and orphanage.

New Hospital Built in 1912

Due to increasing need for health care services for the people of the region, a new 80-bed facility was constructed. More additions were made as the health care needs continued to grow.

Benet Home for Nurses Opens in 1949

In 1949, construction of the Benet Home for Nurses was completed, providing living quarters for 170 nurses and students. The nursing school graduated its last class of three-year diploma nurses on Aug. 7, 1964.

Sister James Nursing Home

With the addition of Benet Hall, space was available in the hospital to provide care for the elderly. The fourth floor was named Sister James Nursing Home in honor of Sister James Souhrada, a Benedictine Sister who devoted her personal and professional life to the service of the elderly.

Gavins Point Dam Dedicated in 1957

The construction of Gavins Point Dam brought scores of new families to Yankton and Sacred Heart Hospital. At times, all beds were full and patients had to be cared for in the hallways, with 30 or more infants in the nursery at one time.

In 1960, the need for expansion was obvious. Hospital officials planned to remodel the existing structure and add another wing. The $1.5 million addition included 64 patient beds, a 24-bassinet nursery, surgical suite, intensive care unit and other improvements. Dedication of the L-shaped wing, now named the Benedictine Center, took place on Sept. 5, 1965.

Today's Sacred Heart Hospital Built in 1981

Renovations and additions were made again in 1971. Finally, because of ever-increasing safety requirements and government regulations, it became evident that a new hospital building was needed. The new Sacred Heart Hospital, a 144-bed structure, was the third building in the institution’s first 84 years.

Avera Sacred Heart Adopts New Name in 1998

In 1996, Sacred Heart Hospital became affiliated with the Presentation Health System. In 1998, the hospital was renamed Avera Sacred Heart Hospital to reflect the combined ministries of the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters.

Avera Sacred Heart Expands Senior Services in 1998

In 1998, Avera Sacred Heart began planning a new project to expand senior services on a 40-acre parcel of land overlooking the beautiful scenic Missouri River Valley along Highway 52 – Majestic Bluffs. In May 2000, 113 residents moved into the Avera Sister James Care Center at the site. Construction was completed on assisted and independent living apartments in 2001. Majestic Bluffs also include eight townhomes located along the picturesque lake and walking path.

Avera Surgery Center Opens in 2003

In January 2003, the Avera Sacred Heart Rehab & Wellness Institute or RWI (since renamed Avera Surgery Center) opened its doors on the former Benet Hall site. The three-story building houses the Same Day Surgery Center, Avera Sacred Heart Wellness Center and physician offices.

Emergency Department opens in 2006

In the summer of 2006, Avera Sacred Heart's new Emergency Department opened its doors, doubling the number of patient rooms, and providing the latest in emergency care technology.

Professional Office Pavilion opens in 2007

Construction of the 60,000-square-foot Avera Professional Office Pavilion was completed in the summer of 2007. It includes an amphitheatre and meeting rooms, medical training, and various physician practices.

Northern Lights opens in 2014

In order to meet expanding needs, the Northern Lights addition was built on to the northern face of Avera Sacred Heart Hospital. It contains the Northern Lights Café, conference rooms, laboratory, registration, pharmacy and more.

Avera Sister James Care Center Addition opens in 2015

In December 2015, the 73 beds in the Avera Yankton Care Center were moved to a new Avera Sister James Care Center addition. This expansion also included a town center with a café, theater and other amenities. In addition, a hospice residential house was built as part of the addition and opened in April 2016.

Moving Health Forward

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.

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