Avera executives relocate; parts of Behavioral Health reopen

Sept. 16, 2019

Avera’s top executives are moved into temporary offices after their corporate headquarters was extensively damaged in one of  last week’s tornadoes.

The news got lost among the headlines facing more public parts of Avera Health damaged in Tuesday night’s storm, but the corporate office at 3900 W. Avera Drive, just to the east of the Avera Behavioral Health Center and Avera Heart Hospital on West 69th Street, will be out of commission for months.

“We’ve completely moved everybody out of there and found them new homes throughout Sioux Falls,” said Dick Molseed, Avera’s executive vice president of strategy and governance.

“It’s probably going to take two to three months to make all the repairs to that building.”

He estimates 132 people work in the corporate center, including CEO Bob Sutton, who temporarily relocated to the nearby Journey Group’s corporate headquarters. Sutton will move to the Avera downtown office later this week.

The two-story corporate center suffered “extensive glass damage,” Molseed said. “The roof was completely torn off the building. There was a tremendous amount of water in the building and into the walls, insulation, and it ended up affecting the HVAC and the electrical. Thank God, we didn’t have any structural issues in the building, but extensive damage.”

Others who work in the building have been relocated to spaces throughout the city, and some are working from home.

They were allowed in Friday and today to retrieve personal items, which largely weathered the storm, Molseed said.

“The atrium was extensively damaged, and the offices on the west side had a tremendous amount of water damage. The offices on the northeast corner had broken windows, and the roof was torn off but did not suffer as much damage as the west part did. We gathered and offered a prayer, and people started helping each other. It just reminds you the kind of community you build up in a building like that.”

The damage still wasn’t as bad as at Avera Behavioral Health Center, where there were “whole walls blown out, two nursing units completely exposed to the elements and structural bowing of the walls,” Molseed said.

Parts of that campus have returned to operation, though.

“The psychiatric clinics at Avera Behavioral Health are fully functional,” Molseed said. “So people going to their clinic visits are going back to where they have historically gone.”

The hospital portion of the campus, which includes five nursing units, will take up to nine months to be fully operational again, he estimated. But “we think we’ll have one unit up within a week, operational, which is really important because people in emergent situations who need that kind of care right away will have a place.”

Behavioral health assessments are being conducted for those needing behavioral health care. Individuals are asked to call the Behavioral Health Assessment line at 605-322-4065. This is a 24/7 service, and individuals will be directed to the appropriate level of care.

Avera Behavioral Health is providing inpatient care at the Human Services Center in Yankton, using two adult acute units and will begin using an adolescent unit at HSC. Space at the HSC will allow up to 30 beds for adult and 20 beds for adolescent psychiatric care. Avera staff are on-site at HSC to provide behavioral health services, including all medications and lab needs. Avera will use the HSC location until the building in Sioux Falls has been repaired and is determined to be safe to reopen.

“The Avera Behavioral Hospital is a community resource and the only one of its kind in the community, and we take the fact that it isn’t operational very seriously,” Molseed said. “We’re doing everything we can to at least get some of those services back to Sioux Falls. It is our highest priority because the people here don’t have any other options. We’re being very serious and deliberate about it.”

Operations at other damaged Avera facilities also resumed Monday. North Central Heart’s clinic reopened. Avera Heart Hospital is fully operational. And while the air-supported dome portion of the Avera Sports Institute on 44th Place near Costco in south-central Sioux Falls was destroyed, services have restarted in the hard structure: Athletic Republic training, AR-Fit training, triathlon training and Avera Therapy.

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Avera executives relocate; parts of Behavioral Health reopen

Avera’s top executives are moved into temporary offices after their corporate headquarters was extensively damaged in one of last week’s tornadoes.

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