Avera centralizes cancer services at institute

February 1, 2011

Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center has completed construction of the $93 million Prairie Center, which houses the recently opened Avera Cancer Institute and the Avera Surgery Center that opened in July. The Prairie Center is on the Avera McKennan campus in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The institute that opened in October offers a continuum of outpatient cancer services including medical oncology, radiation oncology, gynecologic and breast oncology; hematology; integrative medicine and bone marrow transplant in an isolation unit.

The institute conducts cancer research, including clinical trials. Its staff includes social workers who connect patients with resources such as transportation services.

Sr. Mary Thomas, PBVM, Avera McKennan senior vice president of mission, said people can become overwhelmed by a cancer diagnosis. The Avera Cancer Institute aims to provide patients with the guidance they may need to make informed choices about their care options.

Patient advocates help patients get necessary prior authorizations for care, determine their copayments and fill out insurance paperwork.

The institute sponsors support groups and programs for cancer survivors. It offers cancer education and prevention activities, including classes, screenings, speaker series and events.

The colocated Avera Surgery Center has eight operating suites and 28 private outpatient rooms. It has a separate pediatric surgery suite.

The Prairie Center is a green building, made with reclaimed, recycled and locally obtained materials. The center has energy-efficient windows, heating and cooling systems and landscaping.

It has two indoor waterfalls and other water features, and patient rooms have views of the outdoors so that people can enjoy the beauty of nature and not feel constrained, said Sr. Thomas. It also has an outdoor meditation labyrinth.

The Prairie Center is decorated with 60 commissioned pieces of art by 15 artists, many of them local. Its digital art wall features juried shows, cancer survivor stories and other work. It also has an Arts in Healing Program for cancer patients and their families. The LIVESTRONG organization recently said it will bolster that program with grant funds. Cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, who spoke at the opening event for the institute, is the founder of LIVESTRONG.


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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