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OUR VIEW: Are health care companies keeping their eye on the ball?

In case you didn't hear, Sioux Falls is getting another significant athletic training center.

Announced Wednesday by Avera Health, a new 60,000-square-foot facility will open in December 2019 and cost $14 million.

The Avera Human Performance Center will be located at 69th and Louise campus and it "focuses on the needs of people who want to improve their health, strength, power, speed and stability or overall physical performance," according to a sports medicine specialist with Avera Orthopedics in Sioux Falls.

It's important we point out we're pleased to see athletes in South Dakota have multiple options for elite training. Sanford Health has made a significant investment in this area with its Sports Complex, which includes the Pentagon, an indoor tennis center and three sheets of ice. And in Mitchell, resources like True Fitness and the Mitchell Recreation Center help local athletes thrive.

What's curious, though, is the amount of investment the state's two major health care providers are putting into athletic training.

The perception is Avera and Sanford are jockeying for position in Sioux Falls and are in constant competition to draw people, patients, and in this instance specifically, athletes.

If their main mission is taking care of people, we certainly hope the investments going into athletic training — mostly in Sioux Falls — aren't interfering with providing good care in other rural parts of the state.

Recently, Avera CEO Bob Sutton told our newspaper of the commitment Avera has to quality health care in rural South Dakota. We agree Avera has made its mark in small communities speckled across the state.

But, as the phrase goes, "keeping up with the Joneses" isn't a good look for anyone. We hope health care providers don't lose sight of what's important.

Their top goal should always be patient care. And while we still believe that to be true for Avera and Sanford, we are surprised each time a multimillion-dollar athletic facility goes up under one of their names.

Today, we find ourselves asking: At what point is there too much focus on non-patient care?

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