Avera McKennan CEO to retire

Dave Kapaska

The leader affectionately dubbed Dr. K is retiring.

Dr. Dave Kapaska, regional president and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center, will retire June 30.

David Flicek, chief administrative officer of Avera Medical Group, has been named his successor. Flicek also will maintain his current role with Avera Medical Group.

Kapaska has led Avera McKennan since October 2010 – the 16th administrator in the hospital’s 100-year history.

His announcement Tuesday brought an outpouring of support from staff and community leaders.

“It’s been quite a day to say the least,” Kansaks said, joking, “It’s like funerals. Everybody just remembers the good things.”

His tenure brought a lot of good things for the Sioux Falls hospital, though, including growth of Avera’s primary care market in Sioux Falls, overseeing placement of clinics at Dawley Farms, West Benson Road, 69th Street and Cliff, and 26th Street and South Marion Road – home of the city and state’s first freestanding emergency department.

Avera recently announced plans for $174 million in construction that includes a new surgical center, clinics and other development at 69th Street and Louise Avenue. That’s what prompted Kapaska, who had contemplated retiring later this year or some time in 2018, to step away now.


Avera announces new hospital, development plan for 69th & Louise

“When this project came through, I started looking at it and realizing I was going to be a part of probably the foundation and the first few vertical beams and maybe a cross beam or two and then I would be out of the picture,” he said.

“I felt like passing the baton early in the process would allow the next person to implement the whole plan from start to finish. And there’s always the personal side of family and things. My wife of 40 plus years has been extremely patient with sharing my time, and I’d like to give some of that back too. I think it came to a head with Avera on Louise.”

Unveiling that project is the latest in a list of accomplishments for Kapaska’s career.

They include integrating all six Avera cancer centers together as one Avera Cancer Institute, championing the establishment of eCare eICU to extend critical care expertise to rural areas, developing a live transplant program and growing research programs such as cancer genomics and the Netherlands twins study.

“I have always admired Dr. Kapaska’s sense of public service as well as his commitment to the expansion of primary care, improving access to the front door of health care,” said Fred Slunecka, chief operating officer of Avera Health. “Dr. Kapaska has a wonderful rapport with employees, patients and their families – he is affectionately known by all as Dr. K.”

While he counts the growth in eCare and the new westside medical center among his accomplishments, “the thing I’m most proud of are our people,” Kapaska said.

“It gets me every time I talk about it,” he said, choking up a bit. “My mantra on leadership is your job is to create an environment where everyone else can be successful. I hope I’ve done that. If I have — and I know I have in some situations — but if I have as across the board as one can reach, I feel very successful.”

Flicek has been endorsed by the Avera McKennan board of directors in his new role. He has been with the system for 20 years and previously worked at Allina Health Systems in the Twin Cities. He holds a bachelor of science degree in health administration from USD.

“David Flicek is extremely qualified for this role with 30 years of experience. The integration he has facilitated between clinic and hospital functions of the health system is phenomenal, and David’s appointment to this role will only strengthen these ties and further streamline care for optimal efficiency and the best possible patient experience,” Kapaska said.

His predecessor leaves “big shoes to fill,” Flicek said.

“I look forward to this new challenge and chapter in my career. Avera McKennan has a rich history of service to Sioux Falls and wider region, and I hope to lead in that same spirit of mission while continuing to look to excellence and innovation,” he said.

Kapaska also is the current board chairman of the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce and recently led the effort to hire its new president.

He plans to continue to live in Sioux Falls and continue as Chamber chair until his term ends Oct 1.

“We have a wonderful community with a lot of dynamics, and for the most part positive,” he said. “And how we engineer that into the future will make a big difference for our workforce and community growth and just continuing to make this the most amazing city in the country. I think we have all the stuff to do it. And I just hope that continues.”


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Avera McKennan CEO to retire

The leader affectionately dubbed Dr. K is retiring.

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