After 17 months and $17 Million, the Northern Lights expansion project at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is complete.
"As you come in from the north it kind of takes your breath away!" Said former patient Darwin Tessier.
The second the doors slide open, Tessier is completely blown away.
"It's just tremendous because I'm able to have all these tremendous facilities and tremendous medical staff right here within a few minutes of my home!" Said Tessier.
When Darwin had his pacemaker installed in November, the hospital was still an active construction site. Now, not so much. It's a sight project leader Doug Ekeren couldn't be more pleased to see.
"It's not just the bricks and mortar and nice finishes, we want to add the other touches to help create that healing environment." Said Ekeren, who also serves as the hospital's vice president of Professional & Regional Services.
Ekeren says the building layout at it's core is to improve efficiency throughout the hospital.
Starting with the first floor laboratory.
"Our medical staff decided that it would be best to have our laboratory on the ground floor so they could get test results back to the emergency room and surgery faster then if it was on the second floor." said Ekeren.
The sheer size of the laboratory is also a perk, as it is both brighter and provides for more workspace and storage.
The next stop is second floor and the stunning views of the Northern Lights Cafe.
"The kitchen and cafeteria is part of the project, certainly not the entire project but that really is key in enhancing our hospitality services for all who use our campus." Said Ekeren.
A cafeteria and kitchen may not seem like a big deal, but for the past 32 years the kitchen was located in the Benedictine Center. Some 2000 feet from patients. The new facilities ensure patients get a quality and hot meal. The nutrition department also gets one place to call home instead of being spread out to three different locations.
Third floor is home to the pharmacy along with 8000 square feet of extra space. A key element of the construction is that it was designed for the possibility of a fourth and fifth floor in the future.
"We wanted to plan ahead and give the flexibility to future boards and administrations so that as they look to meet healthcare needs of the Yankton region 20 years from now they have some flexibility in their physical plans in how to do that." Said Ekeren.
From the beginning, hospital staff have been involved with this project. While the beam of signatures is covered with paint and plaster, this project backs up the commitment to enhance both the patient and work environment of the hospital. For the community, it's a visible reminder that the best in care can be found right here in Yankton.
"Oh it's tremendous! I don't necessarily want to get admitted right away again. But I know this: if I need to, I know where I'm going!" Said Tessier.
If you would like to see the improvements for yourself without being admitted, the hospital is holding an open house for the community on Monday, January 13 from 4pm to 7pm. For more information about the project just call 877-AT-AVERA.