Avera McKennan played host to some very distinguished guests this week. Four Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wagga Wagga, Australia toured the hospital's facilities. But this trip was not just a vacation.
The Dakota's are usually fly-over country for most tourists, but for these four presentation sisters from Australia, it was a must stop.
"We were invited to join with some of the sisters in the United States to share ministries and look at ministries and we decided to come to the Dakotas." Said Sister Mary Walsh.
The sisters chose the Midwest because of the similarities in rural nature and multiple ethnic groups that we share with their own congregation in Australia.
While their final destination is the International Presentation Association Assembly in Newfoundland. This stop to tour the Avera Health System was a good opportunity for the sisters to see program ideas on ways to expand their own ministry back home.
"What are the differences? What are the different approaches? I think we can always learn from talking to each other and just seeing how other people do things." Said Sister Lynne Crilley.
One of those differences is the ministry of health care. A ministry Avera has had a proud tradition in, dating back to the late 19th century. A tradition Sister Susan Miller finds encouraging.
"In the Dakota's North and South, the sisters have taken on a health ministry which is not a traditional Presentation ministry, traditionally we're teachers, educators, so for me it's about being Presentation in a different way." Said Sister Miller.
One of the programs the sisters toured was Avera Mckennan's eICU Care.
The intensive care monitoring service has helped doctors and nurses keep an eye on patients in rural clinics in six different Midwest states, all from one station in Sioux Falls. A program that could translate well to the rugged outback.
"This is a very good service and certainly we could do something like this in Australia." Said Sister Walsh.
Cutting edge programs are a key part of Avera Health, but what makes Avera stand out is the focus on faith. Sister Crilley says having a faith-based health system like Avera is a great asset to people across the Midwest. Not only do doctors treat a patient's body, but chaplains and hospital staff help rejuvenate the spirit.
"The pastoral side of things actually looks at helping the health care system to look at the whole person, so it's not just the physical illness that's manifested." Said Sister Crilley.
While this is just a short stop on their journey, taking a moment to listen and see the hospital minister through health care, is a great motivator for Sister Margaret Barclay.
"While we all have our own stories the richness of that is it's really a motivation it keeps us looking outward in the mission and what else needs to be done." Said Sister Barclay.
That mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of people across the Midwest- and who knows, maybe even Australia.
The Avera Health System was created by the merger of the Presentation Health System and the Benedictine Health System in the year 2000.
For more information on the Avera Health Care mission or the Presentation Sisters just call 877-AT-AVERA