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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

A fitness facility with an indoor pool -- built through the cooperative efforts of three entities -- and an urgent care clinic are needed in Mitchell to better serve the region's residents, according to a subcommittee of the long-range planning group Focus 2020.

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The Regional Healthcare Committee on Monday released its list of recommendations, the seventh of eight such lists that are being distributed this month by Focus 2020, whose volunteer members have spent months gathering ideas to help chart Mitchell's future. Each report must be reviewed by Focus 2020's Coordination Assistance Team before it is finalized.

The Regional Healthcare Committee's report includes research findings and six recommendations.

Along with suggestions to start an urgent care facility and build a citywide wellness center, the recommendations include:

• Continued use of one hospital in Mitchell, as well as the development of new economically feasible medical and health care programs and services for the Mitchell region.

• Encouraging Avera Queen of Peace Hospital and private medical practices to continue to recruit physicians as required for the Mitchell region with the full support of the community. The community could help by providing support through a scholarship program or loans for local students entering the medical field.

• Ongoing cooperative efforts between Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell Technical Institute and Avera Queen of Peace, including new and visionary programming, expanded clinical opportunities and creative funding strategies.

• Promotion of Mitchell as an edu- cational option to our local and regional students.

The committee noted that Mitchell, at present, does not have an urgent care facility and that "Avera Queen of Peace has indicated it does not want to provide those services."

The group concluded that "an urgent care facility in Mitchell would be a great addition to our health care options. We would recommend that Avera Queen of Peace and the Mitchell physicians work together to resolve this issue."

Mitchell has had at least one privately operated urgent care clinic in the past, although it no longer exists.

In the committee's sixth and final recommendation, it suggests that Avera Queen of Peace, Dakota Wesleyan and the city of Mitchell "collaborate to explore the venture of a health and wellness facility which would benefit the citizens of Mitchell, the students of DWU, the employees of Avera Queen of Peace and patients seeking rehabilitation services from the Mitchell region. If possible, this facility should include an indoor swimming pool to improve the overall wellness."

The Regional Healthcare Committee is the second Focus 2020 subcommittee to suggest a collaborative effort to build a new indoor pool in Mitchell. Earlier this month, the Quality of Place Committee suggested that "a new indoor aquatic center would best be accomplished using a combination of resources from Mitchell School District, Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, Dakota Wesleyan and the city."

Members of the Regional Healthcare Committee are Gina Jung, Gloria Thompson, Carol Sebert, Paul Rasmussen, Neil Putnam, Scott Houwman, Chad Glanzer and Don Peterson. Its chairmen are Lenny Stulc and Roger Musick.

Following is a closer look at the committee's findings and recommendations:

Avera Queen of Peace

The committee started with a look back at healthcare in Mitchell. In the early 1900s, Mitchell had two hospitals, Methodist Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital. For many years, the two hospitals served the needs of the Mitchell region very well. Both hospitals experienced decline in patients and length of stay, reimbursement, and increases in the cost of equipment and supplies. Vision 2000 (a previous planning group) believed Mitchell would be better off with one strong hospital instead of two financially struggling organizations. The two hospitals accepted one of the major recommendations of Vision 2000 to consolidate the two hospitals and created Queen of Peace. That was accomplished in 1991.

Some of the changes in health care at Avera Queen of Peace that have taken place from 1992 to 2008 include:

• Average hospital stay: 6 days in 1992; 3.81 days in 2008.

• Average maternal stay: 4 days in 1992; 24 hours in 2008.

• Percent outpatient surgery: 30 to 35 percent in 1992; 82 percent in 2008.

These changes, and a magnitude of others, demonstrate how health care has changed from 1992 to today, and confirm Vision 2000's recommendation of creating one strong regional hospital.

Soon after, the consolidation of a major building project was accomplished at Queen of Peace. At the end of its first fiscal year, Avera Queen of Peace recorded more admissions than the combined admissions of St. Joseph and Methodist Hospital. Avera Queen of Peace was established as a regional medical center with a growing range of health-related specialties.

With just one hospital to serve the medical health care needs of the region, cost savings were realized and Avera Queen of Peace aggressively recruited physicians, enhanced programs and services with an emphasis on quality and technology, and completed the addition of a physician office building and Cancer Center in 2002.

Avera Queen of Peace has invested $28.6 million in major building construction projects and $48.7 million in equipment from 1992 to 2008 for a total of more than $77.3 million dollars. The Avera System, including Avera Queen of Peace, is in the process of spending $37.4 million on installation of a leading edge electronic medical records system.

The Mitchell Region of Avera system has grown into a truly regional health care system and today includes the following:

Mitchell

a. Avera Queen of Peace - 120 beds b. Avera Brady - 84 Beds c. Assisted Living - 25 Beds d. Twenty clinics i. 47 physicians - active Staff ii. 7 physicians employed iii. 90 physicians - consulting staff

Parkston - 23 miles from Mitchell

a. Avera St. Benedict - CAH - 18 beds b. Borman Manor - 40 beds c. Assisted Living - 20 beds d. Rural Health Clinic i. 3 physicians ii. 4 mid level iii. Parkston iv. Tripp v. Lake Andes

Platte - 73 miles

a. Platte Health Center/Avera - CAH - 15 beds b. Nursing Home - 40 beds c. Rural Health Clinic i. 2 physicians ii. 1 mid level iii. Platte iv. Geddes

Wessington Springs - 51 miles

a. Avera Weskota Memorial Medical Center - CAH - 18 beds b. Weskota Manor Avera - 40 beds c. Horizon Health i. 2.5 physicians ii. 2 mid levels

De Smet - 71 miles

a. Avera De Smet memorial Hospital - CAH - 18 beds b. Horizon Health i. 2 physicians ii. 2 mid levels

Rural Health Clinics

a. Salem i. 1 mid level b. Howard i. 1 mid level c. Corsica i. 1 mid level d. Chamberlain - Joint Venture

i. 1 physician

ii. 1 mid level

iii. Specialty clinics

Mitchell currently does not have an Urgent Care Facility. Avera Queen of Peace has indicated it does not want to provide those services.

Recommendation No. 1: The Focus 2020 Regional Health care Committee recommends continued use of one hospital in Mitchell, as well as the development of new economically feasible medical and healthcare programs and services for the Mitchell region.

Recommendation No. 2: An urgent care facility in Mitchell would be a great addition to our health care options. We would recommend that Avera Queen of Peace and the Mitchell physicians work together to resolve this issue.

Doctors

Another area of discussion was the average age of the doctors serving the Mitchell region of 48. We do have a number of younger doctors but approximately 50 percent of the doctors were over 50 years of age. This will present a constant recruiting challenge to replace the retiring doctors and to continue to expand the medical staff for both family practice and medical specialties.

Recognizing the impact that physicians, medical clinics and other healthcare agencies have on the health and economy of our citizens in our region the committee suggests that the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commercial and Industrial Development Committee continue to support the doctor recruitment efforts.

Recommendation No. 3: The Focus 2020 Regional Healthcare Committee recommends that Avera Queen of Peace and private medical practices continue to recruit physicians as required for the Mitchell region with the full support of the community. The community could help by providing support through a scholarship program, or loans for local students entering the medical field.

DWU and MTI

The committee discussed the existing and projected increasing shortage of nurses and medical technicians that exists in the United States and South Dakota. Mitchell is fortunate in the relationship shared by Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell Technical Institute, and Avera Queen of Peace, especially in regard to medical and health care education. We have been spared the shortages in medical personnel, as the students that graduate in the programs offered at Dakota Wesleyan University and Mitchell Technical Institute, provide availability of well trained personnel as many would prefer to stay in the Mitchell region. Communities in the region also benefit by this collaborative arrangement.

Health care has become the most important industry in Mitchell with over 2000 health care workers and over 120 health care volunteers in the Mitchell community alone and over 1500 students at DWU and MTI with many enrolled in health care vocations.

Recommendation No. 4:

The Regional Focus 2020 Healthcare Committee recommends ongoing cooperative efforts between DWU, MTI and Avera Queen of Peace, including new and visionary programming, expanded clinical opportunities, and creative funding strategies.

Recommendation No. 5:

We need to promote Mitchell as an educational option to our local and regional students. A collaborative marketing plan should be developed and implemented at the high school level, as well as one to strengthen local support.

Wellness

The future of health care in the United States must migrate from fixing to preventing illness and disease if we are ever going to be able to afford the long-term costs of health care. This is a common thread that runs through almost all future health care discussions. With this in mind, we should encourage the region to improve the longterm wellness of its citizens through increased exercise for not only the children but also the adults.

Our committee discussed and researched issues which impact our citizens including heart disease, poor nutrition, diabetes, and osteoporosis, just to name a few. A collaborative effort between the city, college and hospital would result in increased community wellness, the recruitment of additional students to Dakota Wesleyan University, the ability to host new events in Mitchell, and the opportunity to improve the lives of the citizens through athletics, wellness and education.

Recommendation No. 6:

The Focus 2020 Regional Healthcare Committee recommends that Avera Queen of Peace Health Services, Dakota Wesleyan University, and the City of Mitchell collaborate to explore the venture of a health and wellness facility which would benefit the citizens of Mitchell, the students at DWU, the employees of Avera Queen of Peace, and patients seeking rehabilitation services from the Mitchell region. If possible, this facility should include an indoor swimming pool to improve the overall wellness.

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