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Published on April 09, 2020

Avera McKennan to Convert Space for 150 Rooms for COVID-19 Surge

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls has joined other health systems and state health officials in planning for the surge of COVID-19 cases.

The estimate of potential patient surge in terms of numbers and timing is based on what has happened in other countries and on the East and West Coasts.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has reported that South Dakota’s surge of COVID-19 cases is predicted in June, and up to 30 to 70% of South Dakotans could become ill with this virus. The majority of people who become ill will not need to be hospitalized. However, it is projected that up to 5,000 hospital beds could be needed when cases peak.

To respond to this need, Avera McKennan, a 545-bed tertiary hospital, is creating space for 150 additional patient rooms in the Prairie Center on the main campus in Sioux Falls. This includes additional rooms for intensive care.

A number of clinics and services in the Prairie Center will be relocated temporarily. Outpatient surgeries will move to the main operating suites in the hospital as well as to the Avera Specialty Hospital at the Avera on Louise Health Campus. Infusion and clinics for medical oncology, hematology and bone marrow transplant, gynecologic oncology, breast surgery, breast center, and palliative care will move temporarily to the Avera Specialty Hospital. These clinics will move this weekend and be open beginning Monday.

Avera Medical Group Integrative Medicine will move to the Avera Medical Group Internal Medicine Women’s clinic at 116 W. 69th St.

Radiation Oncology and PET/CT will remain in the Prairie Center due to the complexities of their equipment.

“Access to the full range of hospital specialties, care teams and amenities make the Prairie Center the preferred facility to expand our available beds to take care of patients during this time,” said David Flicek, President and CEO of Avera McKennan.

Patients who are impacted by these moves will be contacted so they have specific information about where to go for their appointments.

Avera has postponed elective procedures to protect patients and employees while conserving protective equipment. This change allows for space in the Avera Specialty Hospital to house other programs temporarily.

“Avera has been watching the evolution of the COVID-19 crisis in other countries and other areas of the United States. We know we must be incredibly intentional about our plans, and we are taking advantage of this window of time to make sure we are prepared for when a patient surge comes,” Flicek said.

“We all hope that these projections fall short and we have fewer patients. However, we still must be prepared,” Flicek said.

The public can help “flatten the curve” and lessen the surge of patients by taking these steps:

  • Stay home. Work from home if possible. Only go out in public to get necessities such as food, gas or medicine.
  • Do not attend or host gatherings of more than 10 people.
  • Practice social distancing. Maintain a distance of 3 to 6 feet when out in public. Avoid shaking hands or hugging.
  • Wash hands often and avoid touching your face.
  • Isolate yourself if you develop symptoms of respiratory illness.
  • Report any symptoms of respiratory illness if you need to access medical care.

“These measures might seem insignificant, but they are vitally important toward our efforts to decrease the numbers of people who become severely ill or die from this virus. We ask everyone to please do your part – it will help save lives. It’s absolutely critical as we wait to see how this surge takes shape in our area,” Flicek said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever over 100 degrees, cough and shortness of breath. If you feel you might have this virus, please call your clinic or call 1-877-AT-AVERA (1-877-282-8372). Do not go in person to your clinic without calling first. To learn more go to

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