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Inspiring Health SPRING/SUMMER 2017

New Hospital Open Learn about our high-quality, compassionate, personalized care at our new facility

Hospitalist Program Providing focused care at the patient bedside

Giving Back Equipment from the old Brookings Hospital will benefit patient care in Nicaragua

CHILDHOOD VACCINATIONS: A Healthy Choice Childhood immunizations help kids stay healthy, reducing the number of vaccinepreventable diseases by more than 90 percent. Yet misinformation leads to questions about vaccine safety. According to, vaccinations are safe and effective. Serious side-effects are rare and no more common than those from other medications. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most vaccines are 90 to 99 percent effective at disease prevention. Children under age 5 are especially susceptible to disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight infection. While disease rates are low in the U.S., the diseases haven’t disappeared and may be a plane ride away from spreading. In fact, many diseases that were once considered eradicated, such as whooping cough and measles, are now on the rise because children are not immunized. The best way to protect your child against disease is to vaccinate. More information about vaccinations is available by calling the CDC Contact Center at (800) 232-4636.

Welcome Dr. Rachel Sunne! 2

Brookings Health System proudly welcomes Dr. Rachel Sunne, MD, of Avera Medical Group. Dr. Sunne specializes in family medicine and obstetrics and serves the needs of area patients of all ages. Dr. Sunne completed her residency at the Center for Family Medicine in Sioux Falls. She received her medical degree from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. Dr. Sunne belongs to the South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians and holds membership in the American Academy of Family Practice. She is available to provide care in all areas of family medicine and obstetrics. As a local physician, Dr. Sunne offers patients the opportunity to have their medical needs attended to close to home, near family and friends. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Rachel Sunne, call Avera Medical Group– A Department of Brookings Health System at (605) 697-9500.

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FOCUSED CARE at Bedside The new hospitalist program at Brookings Hospital aims to increase patient satisfaction and care quality by giving patients more time at bedside with a physician who partners with their primary care provider. Brookings Health System recently implemented a new hospitalist program to provide focused care for inpatients staying at Brookings Hospital. The program launched almost one week after the new hospital opened on Feb. 7. A hospitalist is a doctor who is trained in hospital medicine and specializes in caring for inpatients in the hospital setting. A hospitalist works closely with other members of the hospital care team to provide comprehensive care during a patient’s stay. “Because a hospitalist works only in the hospital, he or she will be readily available to oversee the medical care of inpatients and facilitate the patient treatment plan,” said Chief Nursing Office Tammy Hillestad. “A hospitalist can also quickly respond to changes in the patient condition and works side-by-side with nursing and other professionals in the Inpatient Care unit.“ Hillestad adds that a hospitalist will not replace the patients’ primary care provider. Instead, the hospitalist will partner with the patients’ primary care physician and keep them updated on the patients’ condition and care. The on-staff hospitalist will inform the primary care physician of patient admission and provide a detailed discharge summary to help with treatment plans after patient leaves the hospital. At Brookings Hospital, hospitalists will oversee the care of adult patients, 15 years and older, who are admitted to the Inpatient Care unit. All pediatric, OB, and surgical patients will still be seen and cared for by their respective specialty physician. Each morning the hospitalist will meet with the multi-disciplinary team of nurses, pharmacists, therapist and others involved with patient care to review individual treatment plans. The hospitalist will visit patients at bedside each day and will be readily available for face-to-face conversations with patients and their families. The one-on-one time, ability to quickly respond to changes in a patient’s condition, and partnering with a patient’s primary care provider will increase overall care quality at Brookings Hospital. Want to learn more about the hospitalist program? Visit online at

spring/summer 2017



After 16 months of construction, health care providers are now


treating patients at the new Brookings Hospital expansion.

• 3 operating rooms and 2 procedure rooms • 12 private same-day surgery rooms located near operating rooms • Nearby waiting room for family • Private consultation room for surgeon to update family on patient status

Health care has changed radically since Brookings Hospital


first opened in 1964. Then 80% of patients stayed at overnight at the hospital, whereas today, 70% of patients come to the hospital for a procedure and leave the same day. What’s more, Brookings County has grown its population by 60% since 1964. Those factors combined with the expectations for patient privacy compelled Brookings Health System to expand and renovate the hospital.

Operating Room

“With our new east expansion in service, we are able to provide a higher level of patient privacy, comfort and total experience,” said CEO Jason Merkley. “We’re able to give patients easy, direct access to outpatient care services like imaging procedures and same-day surgery. Inpatient Waiting Room

RADIOLOGY • Close proximity to ER with private patient transfer hallway • New, indoor MRI with a wide opening to accommodate patients of all body types • Nearby waiting room for all imaging modalities MRI

We’ve also increased our capacity, added amenities and accommodations for families and visitors, and increased efficiency in our staffing model in order to spend more time on patient care.” The entire expansion features private patient transport corridors separated from public hallways. Features in each area include:




INPATIENT CARE • 22 private patient rooms, each with a private bathroom and shower • 2 intensive care (ICU) rooms • Spacious rooms with natural healing sunlight through large windows • Ample space for families and visitors to gather

Before care started at the new Brookings Hospital expansion, Brookings Health System opened its doors to the public, giving them a look inside the new facility. Inpatient Room

OBSTETRICS • 8 private rooms, including 5 labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum (LDRP) suites • Private patient elevator with direct access to OR for emergency Caesarean deliveries • Postpartum assessment room to evaluate moms and babies 2 days after discharge LDRP Suite

Construction of the 62,500 square-foot hospital completes the second leg of Brookings Health System’s entire hospital expansion and renovation project. Remodeling of the original 1964 building is now in full swing and is scheduled to be completed Summer 2017. Want to learn more about the hospital expansion and renovation project? Visit

spring/summer 2017

On Jan. 27 and 28, over 750 people toured the new construction and were able to see first-hand the new operating rooms, labor and delivery suites, patient rooms and imaging suites. Team members demonstrated new technology built into the facility as well as amenities designed to add to patient privacy, comfort and healing.


HELPING KIDS ROUND FIRST Surplus items from the hospital expansion and renovation project will help Nicaraguan people gain better access to health care. Nicaragua is one of the poorest Latin American countries. It has had decades of political unrest and financial difficulties. Hospitals lack basic medical equipment and supplies. Helping Kids Round First connects with U.S. hospitals to donate surplus equipment to under-resourced Nicaraguan hospitals.

Nicaraguan Patients

“If you’re one of the poor people who don’t have any money, which many of the people in Nicaragua are, you don’t have any benefits when you show up at the hospital,” said Severtson. “You get a bed; you get a mattress. That’s it. No food, no water. No gowns, no pillows. Everything we give here is going to help the health of the Nicaraguan people.” Department directors determined what equipment to donate, including hospital beds, surgical lights, desks, shelving and other basic items Nicaraguan hospitals lack. Laundry saved linens and bedspreads. The radiology director even traded an old X-ray system for a portable X-ray unit that better suited Nicaragua. Weber and Severtson organized volunteers from throughout the community who helped disassemble, move and store the equipment. The equipment now awaits shipment to Nicaragua this spring.

6 When Brookings Health System started the hospital expansion and renovation project, a problem arose: what to do with the surplus medical equipment. New equipment was included in the construction, meaning many items would no longer be needed. In addition, the old hospital was slated for renovation. Much of the interior would be removed to make it suitable for the new services it would house.

“It’s a great feeling to know we’re helping people even though chances are we will probably never meet any of them,” said Weber. “When we first talked to Craig, I wasn’t sure this was going to even happen, but it was really rewarding to see this plan come together along with the community and our hospital.” Learn how you can contribute to Helping Kids Round First at

“We knew we needed to get rid of the surplus,” said Rehabilitation Services Director Gavin Weber who heads Brookings Health System’s moving committee. “If we put the equipment up for auction, we’d get pennies on the dollar. The equipment was still useful. We didn’t want the equipment to be wasted.” Brookings Health System decided to donate the equipment to Helping Kids Round First, a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of underprivileged Nicaraguan youth, including modernizing health care facilities. “Part of the work in Nicaragua is we haul hospital equipment to public hospitals around the country,” said Craig Severtson, founder of Helping Kids Round First. “We have a relationship with their hospitals and their government. Everything that is surplus here will be the best kind of equipment there.”

Movers Loading Supplies

A MEDICAL MAKEOVER Approximately one week after the new Brookings Hospital expansion opened construction crews started renovations on the former hospital service areas. “The existing hospital space is being remodeled to accommodate services displaced by our construction project, such as outreach, cardiac rehab, and respiratory care. We’ll also bring back on campus ancillary staff who are currently located off campus,” said CEO Jason Merkley. “In addition, we’ll be renovating the front entry off TwentySecond Avenue to give patients and visitors easy access to both the Medical Plaza and Brookings Hospital.”

Brookings Health System has started the last leg of the hospital expansion and renovation project, adding a new polish to the original 1964 Brookings Hospital building.

west to the east entrance of the hospital. A gift shop, coffee shop, and seating areas will be lined along the grand hall as well as entrances to offices for the dietitian, respiratory care department and ancillary staff, transforming the space once occupied by radiology and surgery.

To make the new front entry, the old lobby and the second floor space above it is being demolished. In its place a new, spacious lobby with soaring glass windows will welcome visitors to Brookings Health System. Outside a roundabout will allow for easy drop-off and pick-up for patients who have appointments. Front Entry Demolition

7 Operating Room Demolition

Two former hospital areas, north circle and OB, are intentionally not being remodeled. North circle will temporarily house cardiac rehab services during the renovation process and OB will house the outreach specialty clinic. Once both cardiac rehab and outreach have moved to their new areas, both spaces will be available for future service growth.

Inside the lobby will be a stairway and elevators to give patients easy access to the second level. Directly upstairs will be the new outreach specialty clinic. The space upstairs once known as the south surgical circle will be remade into the new cardiac rehabilitation gym, complete with locker rooms. Off the lobby to the south will be the grand hall, a straight passageway that connects the new building with the original one. It will allow visitors to walk freely from the

“We thank our patients, visitors and community for their patience thus far during our project,” said Merkley. “Renovation does create some challenges in navigating to certain services. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience and are grateful that our community continues to be excited about, and supportive of, our progress.” When remodeling finishes late this summer, Brookings Hospital will have an up-to-date appearance reflective of the high-quality care people have come to expect of Brookings Health System. Want to learn more about the hospital expansion and renovation project? Visit renovation.

spring/summer 2017

300 22nd Avenue Brookings, SD 57006

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Inspiring Health is published by Brookings Health System. This publication in no way seeks to serve as substitute for professional medical care. Consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.




Our expansion at Brookings Hospital is now open. While our facility is changing, our team’s commitment to the patient experience remains the same. We will ALWAYS provide high quality, compassionate, personalized health care because our team makes the difference. Learn more at

Inspiring Health Spring 2017  
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