It's a common misconception that if you live out on the prairie finding quality health care can be a struggle. However, the only struggle is changing that belief, as even South Dakota's most rural hospitals continue to provide the best in patient care.
It's no secret, South Dakota is a sparsely populated state. Those gaps between cities can be a challenge for rural hospitals, but it's a challenge Avera Gregory is prepared to tackle.
"Our guiding principle as a system, not only internally to this area, is that we try to do as much as we can locally; but we always want to keep in mind too that safety and quality are the number one priorities." said Anthony Timanus, the CEO of Avera Gregory.
Other than Gregory's hospital, the nearest regional care center is 120 miles away in Mitchell. So to better serve the nearly 5,000 people in the surrounding region, Avera Gregory is making significant upgrades in both equipment and physical space. The first being a new top-of-line CT scanner to help diagnose patients.
"It's faster, clearer images and we can compete with the larger hospitals as far as what protocols we can do." said Cheryl Duimstra, who works as a radiologic technologist at the hospital.
"That combined with Avera e-Services allow radiologists in Yankton or in Sioux Falls to read those images. It really helps us out a lot." said Timanus.
Not that rural physicians can't handle certain cases, but the telemedicine link of Avera eCare ensures that all patients get the best care possible.
"The way physicians are being trained now is that they work as a part of the team and if you have that emergency doctor, that anesthetist, or that specialist that can verify or give you some direction on how to proceed, especially with trauma patients, I know we have provided better care and probably saved some lives that we otherwise would not have done had it not been available." said Timanus.
The next phase in improving care at Avera Gregory is by the addition of a permanent physical therapy center which will be located right next to the current long-term care center.
"This area located behind us will be the exercise room for the ellipticals and the treadmills, and then we will have three physical therapy offices, an occupational office, and a speech therapy office." said Timanus.
The new space, which is set to open in November, paired with the expanded services of Avera@Home means patients in the Gregory area can get the care they need in the environment they choose to get it in. Avera Gregory has a long standing tradition of being a center of excellence, these recent improvements are further proof that tradition will continue.
"This place is amazing for being an outlying hospital of Avera they are very supportive and making sure that we provide quality care and have all the tools necessary to do that." said Duimstra.
"I feel really good that we can provide whatever services or situation that comes through our front door." said Timanus.
The biggest benefit of both projects is patient convenience, where now patients can receive treatments and therapies over a lunch break rather than traveling out of town. For more information about improvements at Avera Gregory just call 877-AT-AVERA.