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Avera Queen of Peace Hospital Regional President and CEO Tom Clark announces Friday the hospital's plan to build a three-story, 70,000-square-foot office building on a piece of land it owns west of Cabela’s along Interstate 90. (Chris Mueller/Republic)

Avera's big move begins

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Avera Queen of Peace Health Services will break ground on a new medical office building in August on land west of Cabela's, south of Interstate 90 in Mitchell.

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The project kicks off a plan to eventually move all of Avera's operations in the city to that location, including the hospital, though the completion of the master plan is years away and has no definite timeline.

Avera Regional President and CEO Tom Clark said the new medical office building -- a three-story, 70,000-square-foot facility expected to cost about $16.5 million -- should be seen as the first step in the development of the new "Grassland Campus," but will also fill an immediate need for more office space.

"We've got office space now, but it's dated, it's small and it's overcrowded," Clark said during a Friday press conference.

All of Avera Queen of Peace's primary care services will be moved to the bottom two floors of the new medical office building once it's completed, which is expected to be in 2016, Clark said. That includes internal medicine practices, family practices, pediatricians, occupational health services, urgent care, medical imaging and a home medical equipment outlet. The building's third floor will be left open for future growth.

Once Avera Queen of Peace starts moving services to the new medical office building, space will be opened in buildings adjacent to the hospital's main campus in northeastern Mitchell.

"That maybe creates an opportunity for us to move our surgical specialists who are off site on to the campus," Clark said.

In an interview last November with The Daily Republic, Clark first revealed Avera Queen of Peace's plan to possibly move all of its facilities to a new location west of Cabela's, starting with the new medical office building. Later, Clark said at the time, Avera Queen of Peace could begin moving its outpatient services to the new campus, as well as possibly a community wellness center and a replacement for Avera Brady Health and Rehab, an assisted-living facility currently located in western Mitchell. And when the time comes that a replacement hospital needs to be built, there will be room at the new campus, he said.

Avera Queen of Peace bought the 30-acre parcel of land west of Cabela's in October 2012 from the Mitchell Area Development Corporation for $1.6 million.

The existing facilities are hindering Avera from being able to recruit physicians, Clark said, and the current campus is landlocked and allows no room for long-term expansion. Avera has signed agreements with physicians joining the system over the next two years, he said, and has no place to put them.

Clark said the new campus, starting with the new medical office building, will be more convenient and accessible for all patients, especially for those coming from out of town.

"It'll be a change, but once they're there once, I think they'll love it," he said. "I think once everybody gets a chance to experience it they're going to really like it."

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