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Helmsley Center Challenge

Our Purpose

Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, S.D. has been providing care and compassion to residents of central South Dakota for over 100 years. Throughout its vibrant history, Avera St. Mary’s has risen to meet healthcare challenges.

Avera St. Mary’s Hospital’s wants to improve and provide comprehensive cancer care including radiation oncology in Pierre, S.D. Currently, Avera St. Mary’s Hospital patients must travel at least 150 miles for this type of care. The benefits to our communities are exponential; care close to home, less travel time, support at home and less time away from family and work.

Why cancer treatment?

Patients and community members in the Pierre area have consistently identified a lack of cancer treatment as a significant healthcare issue in the region. More than half of the total cancer cases in central South Dakota for 2016 are patients requiring radiation oncology.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in five of the eight target counties (Hughes, Stanley, Jones, Lyman, Buffalo, Sully, Potter and Hyde)
  • In five of the eight primary service area counties, more than 10 percent of the population is below the federal poverty level, which is shown to increase the likelihood that individuals will not seek health care services even with health insurance coverage
  • In relation to cancer care, many patients requiring radiation oncology treatment must travel 230 miles, approximately three and a half hours, to Sioux Falls for the life-saving treatment options and services not offered in Pierre
  • Current oncology services at Avera St. Mary’s are somewhat limited, do not offer many alternative options or forms of treatment for patients and include limited oncology surgeries.

Though Avera St. Mary’s strives to provide a full array of treatment and prevention services, many patients are still forced to travel to other cities and health care facilities on a regular basis to receive necessary services.

Seize the Opportunity

Currently, Pierre does not offer radiation oncology. Radiation oncology is an important option for treating many cancers, providing palliative care, relieving painful symptoms and reducing suffering.

By 2022, it is projected that 268 out of 539 patients will require radiation. Now is the time to prepare for expanding needs of oncology services in Pierre, providing support and treatment in the most rural region of the Avera System.

We trust the needs in the Avera St. Mary’s Region for comprehensive cancer care will be met by undertaking the following building and transformational project.

  • Construct a new building which would house the Avera Cancer Institute, Pierre.
  • Offer radiation oncology, medical oncology, linear accelerator treatment, infusion, integrative medicine and ongoing support
  • Increase access to cancer care treatment and services in underserved central South Dakota providing earlier detection, more prevention and increased quality of life for patients.
  • Expand oncology specialized physician and support staff
  • Allow for connectivity to the already established hospital and clinic buildings on site
  • Provide a warm and welcoming setting in which to navigate some of life’s biggest challenges in fighting cancer, including an atrium, healing garden, meditation room and comfort and care amenities

To bring all of these significant benefits to reality, we need to raise a minimum of almost $3 million from the local and outlying communities. The projected cost of the oncology center is $12.5 million, with a total cost of the entire project at $30 million. Additional costs for the entire project would be covered through Avera’s capital outlay and primary partnerships.

Meet Our Campaign Chairs

The Adam Family

Left to right: Conrad Adam, Karl Adam, Phillip Adam, Jack Adam, Paul Adam, Katherine Adam, Joan Adam

The Helmsley Cancer Center will have the most significant impact on health care in central South Dakota that we’ll ever experience during our lifetime.” – Karl Adam

Karl and Joan share their family's journey, and why they’re glad their friends and neighbors will soon be able to stay closer to home for cancer care.


Our staff would love to visit with you to answer any questions you may have about donating or about the Avera St. Mary's Foundation and our programs. Please contact us by phone at 605-224-3451 or email.

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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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