Avera McKennan Hospital celebrates centennial with book and events

February 1, 2011

Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., is launching its 100th anniversary year with the publication of a book of its history.

A Journey of Faith, A Destination of Excellence chronicles the facility's development since its December 1911 dedication. Avera McKennan began as a 55-bed hospital seeing just 100 patients in its first year, and is now a 545-bed tertiary hospital admitting nearly 22,000 patients annually.

The push to develop health care facilities in Sioux Falls began in the late 1890s, when businessmen, clergy and doctors met to discuss the lack of medical services in the growing town. A few hospitals sprouted up in Sioux Falls in the early 1900s, but the leaders said the city still needed more facilities. The solution came in part in the form of a $25,000 bequest for a new hospital from Sioux Falls' Helen McKennan. Her estate's trustees joined with the Sioux Falls bishop in asking the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to run the facility.

The hospital cost $110,000 and was advanced for its time, with electricity, an elevator and dumb waiter.

Journey of Faith traces the hospital's response to the deadly flu pandemic in 1918; its expansions over the years; its growth as a network of facilities; and its joining together with other Presentation-sponsored campuses in 1978 to form a system. In 2000, the Presentation Sisters and a congregation of Benedictine Sisters merged their hospital networks to form the Avera Health system.

Avera McKennan is celebrating its anniversary through Nov. 11, 2011, when it will close out its centennial year with a gala.


Copyright © 2011 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.