Avera Medical Minute: Broken Things Made New

 cross in wood from tornado at Avera heart hospital
cross in wood from tornado at Avera heart hospital (KSFY)
Published: Dec. 14, 2019 at 11:17 PM CST
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Lives are restored daily inside the Avera Heart Hospital. When a tornado swept through the facility last September, a new challenge emerged to restore the structure.

Avera Heart Hospital President and CEO Mick Gibbs says the response was heartwarming.

"Moments after the tornado struck this campus we had dozens of our employees and family physicians coming to the hospital to lend a hand and make sure patients were cared for," said Gibbs.

The tornado was described as being as wide as a football field. The130 miles per hour winds left curious surprises among the rubble.

A block of wood was thrown into the foyer. It had a cross design that had been hidden within the trunk until the tornado tore it open. What happened next may be called a coincidence, others say it was divinely planned. A master woodworker from Aberdeen, Larry Jurgens was staying on campus.

"So we took the cross in the wood up to Larry Jurgens. Who was an inpatient at the time," said Gibbs.

"That was a bark inclusion," said Jurgens. That was inside the tree where nobody could see it. That is a mystery."

Arrangements were made for its preservation, but Larry had even more planned when he discovered another damaged tree. Larry asked his son to put it in the back of the pickup and he took it home to his workshop.

Larry transformed the tornado-damaged wood into a beautiful gift.

"Well, it's a piece of art. The symbolism of this bowl is much like the people of this building, the people of Avera heart hospital and North Central heart. From destruction came creation," said Gibbs. "From pain came joy and celebration. From disorder and chaos came focus and order. And to me, this bowl is so perfectly symbolizing what the people of Avera Heart Hospital and North Central Heart represent for their community."

Both will be on display at the Avera Heart Hospital. It stands as a reminder of the tornado, an offering of thanks that no lives were lost, and assurance to the faithful that we are not alone.

"All I can say is God was there maybe. I think he was," said Jurgens.

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