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New Avera Gregory health facility to 'soft launch' open January 2023

The multi-million dollar facility includes features such as a 24-hour emergency room, diagnostic imaging center and helipad, as well as a 30-bed long term care center.

Avera Gregory Entrance.JPG
The new Avera Gregory health care facility, which will open in early January 2023.
Contributed by Avera Health.
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GREGORY, S.D. — Kicking off the year strong, the new Avera Gregory health campus will officially open its doors to the public in early January.

The new facility, which broke ground in early July of 2021, features an all-in-one long-term care facility, clinic and hospital with amenities including a 24-hour emergency room, diagnostic imaging center and helipad, as well as a 30-bed long term care center.

The long-awaited project was completed and celebrated an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony in November and will officially open to the public beginning in January.

“It’s kind of a soft-launch opening date,” said Anthony Timanus, president of Avera Gregory Hospital. “The nursing home will be moved on Jan. 4, the hospital will be moved officially on Jan. 12 and the clinic will be moved over there on Jan. 20.”

New site will be located on east edge of city

The old hospital was in need of some serious remodeling, Timanus said, but plans to fix heating and plumbing problems came to a halt once the committee saw the price tag.

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"It was going to take us (nearly) $6 million to fix the piping and the cooling system in the old facility, so we thought, ‘Do we want to put that kind of money into an older building?' When, you know, probably for three or four times that, we could build a new one,” Timanus said. “So we went through the whole design process with Avera Health and Avera Corporate, and they decided to go through with the project.”

According to Timanus, the total cost ended up angling toward $41.7 million, $4 million of which, he says, came from local donors.

“We raised over $4 million locally, which, from a town of 1,200 people, that’s pretty impressive,” Timanus said. “I had the math worked out — I think it’s somewhere in the range of $4,000 to $5,000 per person in the city of Gregory. Of course, a quarter of the population is below 18, so I don’t think they contributed that much but we had some big donors step up to make this happen.”

“It just goes to show how committed the community was to this project,” Timanus said.

The old three-building setup offered only 49,000 square feet, about half of the area of the new, single-building campus. Timanus noted that, while there won't be a whole lot of changes to services previously offered in the old facility, the additional space will help optimize patient care.

“Over the last 50 years, we’ve just added things — the dialysis unit, the outpatient clinic, a bone density scanner — and we’ve put those in rooms that weren’t designed for it, in closets, wherever we could find a spare space for them,” Timanus said.

At least one new planned service should save local patients the trouble of having to travel two hours to Pierre or more than two-and-a-half hours to Sioux Falls for appointments.

“The new building is 89,000 square feet, so the only new service that we’re adding is an MRI machine," Timanus said, noting that the space the new building provides will allow machines to have dedicated rooms. "One of the things we identified during the planning process is that people are having to drive to Sioux Falls or Pierre to get MRI scans done, so we wanted to prioritize getting that as well.”

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The new facility will have upgraded equipment, however, as Timanus said that Avera invested $4 million into new machines like a telemetry system. The system uses a device to continuously monitor patient statistics while automatically transmitting the information to a central monitor, as well as an upgraded call-light system and security system.

But, the most exciting part?

“The new long-term care facility,” Timanus said with a smile.

Timanus explained that he is especially thrilled after seeing the recent closures of so many nursing homes across the state of South Dakota.

“I’m excited because, you know, there’s been quite a few challenges with long-term care in South Dakota," he said. "The fact that we’re committed to this for another 50 or so years is exciting for me.”

According to Timanus, the old hospital will most likely be demolished as structure concerns, plumbing problems and other various issues will not be cost-effective for any plans of remodel.

“We’ve had multiple people come and look at the old facility to see if it could be repurposed or utilized in some way, but, going back to that heating and cooling issue – anybody that took this over would have to invest that money to repair it,” Timanus said. “So once we get moved out of (the old facility), we’re just going to demo it and clean the land.”

The new facility is located on 12 acres of land east of Gregory on U.S. Highway 18, but an official address will be released upon relocating current patients on Jan. 4.

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For more information on services provided by Avera Gregory, click here.

“We see that when things happen in the coastal areas, a few years later, they start trending toward the Midwest,” said Rep. Ben Krohmer, serving his first term in the House.
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Cassie Williams joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2022. To get in contact with Cassie about potential stories, feel free to email her at cwilliams@mitchellrepublic.com.
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