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Published on September 27, 2018

Helmsley Center Opening Marks New Era in Cancer Care


Comprehensive cancer care is now available in central South Dakota as the Helmsley Center opens.

Housed on the campus of Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, the Helmsley Center was made possible by $10 million in funding from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and generous donors to the $2.5 million of the community-based Helmsley Center Dollar for Dollar Match Challenge.

The $30 million, three-story Helmsley Center is home to the sixth Avera Cancer Institute location. “As the Helmsley Center opens, radiation oncology will be offered right here in Pierre for the first time. That’s a victory for patients and their families who in the past have had to drive hundreds of miles or be away from home for days at a time,” said Avera St. Mary’s President and Chief Medical Officer Mikel Holland, MD.

A fully digital Elekta™ Infinity linear accelerator in the Helmsley Center offers enhanced imaging and a full range of radiation treatments.

While medical oncology services have already been offered in Pierre for some time, these services are now enhanced. This includes infusion suites that are connected to the oncology clinic so patients can receive care in one convenient location. Specially designed chairs recline and offer heat for comfort. Large windows offer a view of a garden, creating a serene environment.

Other specialties housed in the 57,000-square-foot Helmsley Center include orthopedics and podiatry; physical medicine and rehabilitation; interventional pain medicine; dermatology; ear, nose and throat; urology; and specialty outreach clinics. The center is equipped with telemedicine equipment for access to specialty visits through Avera eCARE®. The Avera St. Mary’s Foundation and Human Resources will both have a home in this center.

Patients, families and visitors can enjoy a warm welcome and delicious meals and snacks at the Riverstone Bistro. A meditation room features stained glass from the decommissioned Catholic Church in Worthing, S.D., donated to Avera by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls. A multicultural room is a place for patients and visitors to perform cultural healing and spiritual practices, such as burning sage to honor Native American traditions. Two outdoor healing gardens offer a peaceful place for patients and visitors to walk.

The main floor also features 120 green Amazonite stones within the floor, representing Avera St. Mary’s Hospital’s 120 years of service. Amazonite is known as the hope stone and said to have healing properties.

“The opening of the Helmsley Center and the addition of radiology oncology services is a monumental step forward for patients and their families facing a cancer diagnosis in central South Dakota,” said Walter Panzirer, a Trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Helmsley is committed to improving access to health care in rural America. This project fully encompasses how a health system, community, and philanthropy can work together to make care close to home a reality.”

“The Helmsley Center is a wonderful addition to the Pierre community and Avera St. Mary’s Hospital. We are so grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust and many donors whose generosity made this all possible. We are thrilled to be able to bring cancer services and other specialty care offered in Pierre to the next level through this incredible facility,” Holland said.

A public open house is set for Sunday, Sept. 30 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

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