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Avera Health brings new service to Mitchell

In just two weeks time, what's now a bare bones structure stripped of its furniture and fixtures will become Avera Health's newest venture in the Mitchell area.

The Avera Therapy and Integrated Therapy Services center will overtake the former Avera Urgent Care building on East Havens Avenue. The center will include physical, occupational and speech therapy services, with specialized services to pediatric patients from infancy to adolescence.

With the urgent care facility moving across town to the new Avera Grassland facility, the East Havens structure was left vacant for Avera Health to bring something new to Mitchell. And Avera picked Occupational Therapist Melissa Brissette to lead the new facility, which holds its open house from 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 4.

Since arriving in Mitchell by way of Phoenix, Arizona, Brissette is excited to provide her 17 years of experience to offer a new service to the Mitchell community.

"My job is really to make sure if somebody has a disability, that they can get back to living life," Brissette said.

A team of therapists will work at the facility to help children make the most of their opportunities in home, school and social settings. From helping children overcome movement and mobility challenges, to increasing self-care skills and boosting expressive language skills, the new facility will save area parents and children the drive to Sioux Falls, which previously served as the nearest specialized therapy service location.

The outpatient therapy service will help children with their occupation, which Brissette said is to play, learn and succeed in school. And the new center will help children overcome various challenges they may face.

"So they may be injured in a motor vehicle accident or they may be born with a disability, say cerebral palsy, and they're not able to access their milestones in an efficient manner or an effective manner," Brissette said.

Becky Weich, executive director of Integrated Therapy Services Avera, was also excited about the service new to the Mitchell region.

"This is an exciting opportunity for our therapists and for parents and children around the Mitchell region," Weich said in a news release. "This new center is leading-edge in terms of equipment and pediatric physical, occupational and speech therapy services. Our therapists are excited to provide services that can help maximize each child's medical and developmental potential — services that previously many families had to drive out of town to receive."

The new facility will also bring one other new service to Mitchell residents.

As many people are living longer, those same people continue to drive the streets. With the help of Avera's new facility, those older drivers can take visual tests and have real-world driving experiences with an expert who can help determine ways they can improve their driving.

"The driving program is actually really interesting, too, because when you kind of get to that point when you're like, 'Should grandma still be driving,' people go to their doctor, and their doctor's like 'I don't know, I've never seen her drive,' " said Tenille Heier, communications coordinator for Avera.