Avera Medical Minute: Prairie Center celebrates a decade of hope

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 7:20 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - When two-time cancer survivor Kelly Gellerman walks into the Prairie Center on the Avera McKennan Campus her mind goes back to 12 years ago.

“I always remember how much they asked us, as patients, what we wanted,” said Gellerman.

Today, the Prairie Center is celebrating a ten-year milestone. Gellerman and Kris Gaster, Avera Assistant VP for outpatient cancer services, reflect on the planning that went into the experience that patients have today.

“The prairie center was really to be a beacon of hope. One of our crown jewels of this building is that we had so much patient input into the building,” said Gaster.

One of the requests, more privacy during chemotherapy.

“The old chemo suites were one big room, where everybody was kind of in an arc in the side, and you were in a, probably this far from the next person,” said Gellerman.

The infusion rooms now are light-filled, private, and have room for a friend to come along.

“Like being in a luxury hotel they’re beautiful, they’re nice, they’re private, you’ve got your own area you can watch TV, you can look out the window,” said Gellerman.

One of the patients' requests, an environment of trees, plants, and water.

“To be by a window that they could look outside and see that nature. They also want to have nature in the building and that’s why we have plants,” said Gaster.

If you’ve walked into the Prairie Center, you may not have realized the subtle cues of South Dakota.

“When you come in the front doors we have East River. That has grasses in it, and we have West river that has trees and full rock to emulate the West river, and that was the nod to the American Indian and then we did have the blessing,” said Gaster.

The goal was to see nature and protect it too with the choice of materials.

“They also want our building to be a green building to do no harm,” said Gaster.

More than a building, the technology improvements in the last decade include gamma knife radiation for brain cancer, genomic sequencing, and car-t therapy. In Gellerman’s re-occurrence with breast cancer, new advancements helped in the OR.

“When I had my recurrence in 2014, I was able to take advantage of that inter-operative radiation therapy which was new here at the time,” said Gellerman.

Gellerman says many of the same caring nurses were there both times she fought cancer.

“Completely disease free now so a lot of hope and. Don’t even think about it much anymore,” said Gellerman.

“Cancer Care is changing so quickly, so many new drugs coming out really bring hope to people that maybe didn’t have hope, even a year ago,” said Gaster.

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