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Published on June 16, 2014

Avera Announces the Development of One Avera Cancer Institute

SIOUX FALLS (June 11, 2014) – Avera Health is rebranding its cancer programs across the system as Avera Cancer Institute to represent a brand promise of consistent quality of care and service, regardless of location.

Avera Cancer Institute is comprised of six regional centers and 40 outreach sites. The six regional centers are located in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Sioux Falls and Yankton, S.D., and Marshall, Minn.

Existing cancer centers at Aberdeen, Mitchell and Yankton will be renamed Avera Cancer Institute. A new $12.95 million facility is currently under construction in Marshall, which will be named Avera Cancer Institute Marshall. Fundraising is underway for a $13.5 million building project to expand cancer services in Aberdeen. Avera Cancer Institute Sioux Falls was expanded in 2010 with the construction of the Prairie Center, a five-story, 260,000-square-foot building on the Avera McKennan campus.

“The Avera Cancer Institute is one institute, dedicated to providing the best possible care, wherever patients happen to walk through the door,” said Dave Kapaska, DO, Regional President and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, and administrative leader of the Avera cancer service line. “We make a brand promise that if you come to one of our sites, you will experience Avera’s approach to cancer care.”

The cancer service line at Avera also is led by Michael E. Peterson, MD, Radiation Oncologist with Avera Medical Group Radiation Oncology Yankton, and David L. Elson, MD, Medical Oncologist with Avera Medical Group Oncology & Hematology Sioux Falls.

Of the five cancer centers in South Dakota that are nationally accredited through the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (CoC), four are part of the Avera Cancer Institute.

The Avera Cancer Institute concept does not mean that every service is duplicated in every community, as this is not feasible in the name of stewardship and best use of resources.

Yet patients can be assured that they receive the same high quality of care, evidence-based best practices, and clinical guidelines and pathways. “Patients have a seamless experience. They are treated compassionately as a human being – not a number,” Dr. Peterson said.

Some health systems bring all their cancer care resources to one city or location, and ask all patients to drive to that location, regardless of where they live. “If our geographic area was a 50-mile-wide circle, that would work. Yet our region is a 250-mile-wide circle,” Dr. Kapaska said.

Services that most people need are available through regional centers, to minimize travel as much as possible. Traveling long distances is regarded as the exception, not the rule. Yet transportation, outreach and eServices make all services available to all Avera patients.

Just one example is the Versa HD linear accelerator, which provides stereotactic radiosurgery and body radiation therapy for medically inoperable tumors. This equipment, located in Sioux Falls, was purchased with grant assistance through The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Justifying the purchase of cancer care equipment like the Versa HD involves having a population of 1 million. That means Avera can have only one of these machines in the entire system. Yet if a patient who lives in a remote location would benefit from radiosurgery for an inoperable tumor, that patient has access to this type of care through Avera.

“At all locations, patients have access to the technical aspects of care, and the human supportive elements of care,” Dr. Peterson said.

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