Hospital, apartments, childcare center all celebrate growth in WagnerCommunity support key to expansion of three facilities, say officials.
By: Anna Jauhola, The Daily Republic
WAGNER — Officials said community support and teamwork made three major projects possible in Wagner.
The Charles Mix County community celebrated the official finished renovations and additions to the Wagner Community Memorial Hospital-Avera, and renovations to Parkview Villa apartments and Wagner Early Childhood Inc. during ceremonies Wednesday.
Wagner Community Memorial Hospital-Avera
The hospital’s renovations were four years in the making, said Bryan Slaba, CEO of the hospital.
“No project like this ever gets done without partnership and community team involvement,” Slaba said during a ribboncutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the hospital.
The $4 million project includes:
• renovations of previous patient rooms into hospice and outpatient care, and pharmacy space;
• renovation of the previous intensive care unit and critical care unit rooms into a larger nurse’s station;
• an additional 13 patient rooms with 15 beds. The rooms include walk-in showers and state-of-the-art technology for the best patient care, Slaba said;
• digital general radiology equipment, which provides clearer images;
• a new emergency room with state-of-the-art equipment and two beds. The ER also includes cameras that can link to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls for help from specialists;
• a laboratory with the capability to run almost all tests and produce instant results;
• adjoining the emergency room is a new drive-in ambulance bay and direct exit to the helipad; and
• two ICU rooms with cameras directly linked to Avera McKennan to allow for patient consults if and when needed. This eliminates the need for doctors to reassess a patient if that patient is transferred to a different facility.
“I love my technology,” Slaba said referring to the cameras connecting Wagner to Sioux Falls. “What better way to get information than to press a button on the wall and get an expert on the other side?”
The cameras in the ICU, CCU and ER rooms can focus closely on a patient to see whether the pupils are dilated. And, a stethoscope mounted on the wall in the ICU can be placed on a patient by a nurse and a medical professional in Sioux Falls can hear the heartbeat.
The new ICU technology has already saved one man’s life. A 72-year-old man had an artery tear and the equipment allowed medical personnel to assess his condition and prevent unnecessary assessment later. It literally saved his life, Slaba said. The surgeons in Sioux Falls were scrubbed and ready for the patient when he arrived by helicopter.
“They said he had maybe minutes,” Slaba added. “What a way to expand health care in a rural community.”
Jeff Doom, fundraising co-chair, said the board and Slaba gave great insight for the project and helped avoid small, expensive “Band-Aidtype fixes.”
“Instead, we were able to take on a massive update and total upgrade,” Doom said. “I call it a leapfrog into the future versus tiptoeing.”
The hospital board of directors, and other volunteers, were able to raise $900,000 to help pay for the renovations and additions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development provided two loans for $1.5 million and $1.25 million. The city of Wagner and Governor’s Office of Economic Development also helped secure a Community Development Block Grant for $309,000.
Slaba gave particular accolades to the Commercial State Bank of Wagner, which approved a $1.25 million loan for the project and also gave a significant donation toward the community fundraising effort.
“This facility puts Wagner in a league of its own,” said Brittany Chaplin of the Wagner Chamber of Commerce. “It is the second-largest employer in the community and has the most advanced technology in a 60-mile radius.”
Slaba also thanked the hospital staff for its patience and continuous hard work during construction. He said the staff kept their eyes on the ball and realized the end result of the construction would be beneficial to not only their future but that of the area residents.
“We’re not just celebrating a new facility, but a new era in providing health care to the community,” Slaba said.
Parkview Villa Inc.
Everyone who worked to renovate Parkview Villa had one goal in mind — taking care of the elderly.
Slaba, who is also president of Parkview, said the project is long overdue. He said community involvement, South Dakota Housing Development Authority and USDA Rural Development made the nearly $1.5 million project possible.
A $1.3 million loan through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program provided for the majority of the project. The Commercial State Bank of Wagner provided debt forgiveness because the previous owners of Parkview were in outstanding debt.
Parkview Villa is a 31-unit, threestory multi-family apartment complex with 12 one-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors, 10 apartments on the first floor, an office, elevator, dining and sunroom, a kitchen and lounge. It now includes six one-bedroom apartments and 25 one-bedroom apartments. It has new roofing, siding, plumbing, electrical, flooring, windows, and appliances. It is also handicap-accessible.
The project allows for rental assistances as well.
“By partnering with the USDA-RD, SDHDA and Commercial State Bank of Wagner, Parkview Villa Inc., a nonprofit corporation, was able to purchase and renovate an aging facility with declining occupancy, creating a thriving sub-community with family, friends and fun,” Slaba said in a news release.
Several residents of Parkview attended the ribbon cutting for the facility Wednesday morning. Under previous management and ownership, Parkview only had eight of its 31 units filled. Now, one year later, residents occupy 20 of the 31 units and Slaba expects all units be full by the end of 2012.
Janis and Wilbur Nedved moved into Parkview three weeks ago and “just love it.” Janis said she attended a brick school house that used to stand where the apartment complex is now. She also worked in the kitchen at the complex when it was Heritage Court and her parents lived there years ago.
Now that her husband is disabled, the Nedveds are happy to have the opportunity to live in a handicapaccessible building.
Marjore Leibel and Delores Peters were neighbors in the country before moving into town. Leibel moved into Heritage Court 12 years ago and said she’s seen the complex go through some rough times.
“I love it now,” she said. “I like everything about it.”
Peters moved into the complex in April and, even though she left her farm life behind, she feels safer at Parkview and says the people are nice.
“Without the driving force of our board listening to the community, this wouldn’t have been a possibility,” he said. “They saw an opportunity out there and took the step toward that opportunity. … Vision doesn’t go anywhere unless people follow up with it and put our community behind it.”
Wagner Early Childhood Inc.
Through a USDA Rural Development Community Facility Grant, a Wagner childcare facility has been able to increase security, install new windows, locks and new carpet.
The $15,375 grant allowed Wagner Early Childhood Inc. to purchase a security system with extra monitors for daycare rooms. It also helped replace seven windows. The childcare facility matched the grant with $5,125 for a total project cost of $20,500.
“Wagner Early Childhood Inc. provides a valuable service to the community,” said Elsie Meeks, state director for South Dakota Rural Development. “This facility will improve services and bring new opportunities to Wagner and the surrounding service areas.”