Avera McKennan is celebrating its centennial next week which caps off Friday the 11th with a Century Gala. While the hospital marks their First Century of Caring, Nancy Naeve Brown got a history lesson from a nurse who's been part of the system for half of those 100 years.
As Registered Nurse/Nursing Home Administrator LaVonne Gaspar and I walked down Avera McKennan's hallway past their collage commemorating their 100 year history, it turned out to be a trip down memory lane for the long time employee who went to school in this building 52 years ago.
LaVonne says, "I came here in 1959 in the diploma program offered by McKennan through Presentation's school of nursing. I graduated in 62 and back then you worked during that time. That's why tuition was so economical because nursing students were part of the labor force. We all wore caps. Our nursing uniforms were all laundered here at the hospital and they were heavily starched so you couldn't help but stand up straight."
Avera McKennan is celebrating its centennial the week of November next week that culminates with a Gala November 7th. Country Music star Billy Dean will be performing at the event themed, "A journey of faith, a destination of excellence" noting all the accomplishments of the past 100 years.
Avera McKennan Regional President Dr. Dave Kapaska says, "It is an amazing place. The reality is it still comes down to amazing individuals that give of themselves day and night to make sure people in need have exactly what they need to get better and to be supported through very difficult times in their lives."
As hospital administrators and employees look to the future, they are also looking back at the sacrifices made by so many along the way.
LaVonne says, "All of the Sisters were in full habit back then and there was a Sister on each floor."
We show pictures of the very first operating room, and the first lab and what a typical patient room looked like in yester year which had 7 to 8 beds in one room and zero privacy.
LaVonne says, "I remember one of the all male rooms there was no bathroom in there. Everyone was separated by a curtain. HIPAA was not in style in those days and half of those people were smoking in their room. It was a very different era."
Employees say one thing that has remained consistent is their quality of care.
Dr. Kapaska says, "We'll have new technology and new things to help us do that more efficiently and effectively for people, but that common goal, that mission of ours to care for our population is in tact and will be for another 100 years."
As LaVonne reflects on this monumental milestone she says she's grateful to have had the opportunity to serve half of those 100 years and she's not done yet.
You are invited to Avera McKennan's Centennial Celebration.
It kicks off Monday, November 7th at noon with the Sculpture Dedication "The Song of Creation" on the East Side of the Prairie Center.
On Friday, November 11th is the Gala for a Century at the Sioux Falls Convention Center Grand Ballroom. It starts at 6:00 p.m.
For more information go to: http://www.avera.org/mckennan/anniversary/events/gala.aspx
or call the Avera McKennan Foundation at (605) 322-8900 to order tickets.