Avera Medical Minute: Small town hospitals making a difference during pandemic

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 12:44 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Ever since he was a kid, Dr. Jesse Neiuwenhuis hoped to be a doctor. It started with follow up appointments after eye surgery.

“Seeing all those doctors together and all that energy and the way that they could just, you know, fix all these things, which was pretty impressive to me as a little kid. And I kind of thought, you know someday I want to do that,” said Dr. Nieuwenhuis.

His other dream, to practice and live in a small town. He found Avera Dells Area Hospital.

“My spouse is kind of from the area and we wanted to stay close. And so yeah I ended up here,” said Nieuwenhuis.

The Dell Rapids hospital has made changes during the pandemic to protect everyone.

“One side of the clinic is just devoted to respiratory symptoms, cough fevers, those kinds of things, and then the other side of the clinic is kind of everything else,” said Nieuwenhuis.

And the number of patients staying overnight continues to grow.

“As of recently we’ve had, you know, three, four, or five people with COVID, kind of all the time in the hospital just like a revolving door,” said Nieuwenhuis.

There’s more work to be done in between patient visits.

“We have these PAPR hoods that we were with our protective equipment and. And we don’t like to expose people that don’t want to have COVID so we’re kind of changing a lot going back and forth between, you know, respiratory patients and other types of patients too,” said Nieuwenhuis.

One of the Dells Area hospital patients in Shane Gerlach, who is recovering from COVID-19 at home.

“Yeah, it’s. I was very impressed by Avera and how quickly they got the test results back to us and glad for that,” said Gerlach.

Gerlach is grateful medical care is just down the street.

“The whole house has been affected, except for the lab I’m pretty sure the lab doesn’t have it. We’ll see maybe does too,” said Gerlach.

It was no joking matter when Gerlach’s oxygen levels dropped. Thankfully the ER was minutes away.

“You know, we’re just glad that we can provide that here rather than having to have everyone have to go to Sioux Falls since they’ve been so full and their hospitals are really struggling to in that capacity,” said Dr. Nieuwenhuis.

In a small town, people look out for each other.

“They just treat us great. We’ve had follow up calls. I mean, holy smokes the follow-up calls,” said Gerlach.

Doctor Nieuwnehuis enjoys seeing his patients around town, whether it’s at the hospital or a local store.

“It makes you feel good that people kind of know what you do and in what you stand for the care we’re receiving from Vera, the entire family. We’re very impressed,” said Nieuwenhuis.

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