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Avera Behavioral Health Center fully reopens after tornado repairs

 Avera Behavioral Health facility after it was damaged by tornado in September
Avera Behavioral Health facility after it was damaged by tornado in September (KSFY)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 8:46 AM CDT
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A Sioux Falls medical center badly damaged by a tornado last fall has fully reopened.

All services at the Avera Behavioral Health Center in Sioux Falls are now reopened, officials announced Wednesday.

Significant repairs were required after damage caused by a tornado that hit on Sept. 10, 2019.

“Thanks to a lot of great collaboration, we were able to keep all of our services open throughout this time. We are especially glad to now have all our services back at the Avera Behavioral Health Center. We are now fully open and have capacity to care for patients across the entire mental health continuum,” said Thomas Otten, Assistant Vice President for Avera Behavioral Health Services.

The type of damage indicates that the building took a direct hit from the EF-2 tornado – one of three confirmed tornadoes that touched down in Sioux Falls the same night, Otten said.

“Our Adult A and adolescent units had such significant damage they needed to be torn down to the steel structure – and even some steel was significantly bent and had to be replaced,” Otten said.

Other units had broken glass and wind and water damage to interior finishes including sheetrock, ceiling tiles, wiring and flooring.

Immediately after the tornado, Avera Behavioral Health placed patients at other Avera locations. This included the pediatric unit at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center. Through a unique public-private collaboration, the state of South Dakota offered space for three units at the Human Services Center in Yankton.

Avera officials say the 24-hour assessment program never stopped operations. Within a few days after the tornado the outpatient clinics at the center were able to reopen and continued to operate throughout the construction.

There are still a few repairs to be done, including repairs to fencing and outdoor play equipment, resodding due to glass shards imbedded in the lawn, and window replacements in which the outer pane of glass was cracked or broken while the inner pane was left intact.

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