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Inspiring Health SUMMER 2021

Physical & Emotional Relief A patient finds pain relief after a hysterectomy

Top 20 Again! Brookings Hospital is once again named a Top 20 Rural and Community Hospital

Helping Patients with Difficult to Heal Wounds Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are added to Brookings Health’s Wound Center


Star Ratings:

How Local Patients Rate Their Care 2

Googling online star ratings for physicians and medical services can be a great way to help find exceptional medical care. However, online sites can have few or no ratings for a provider, leaving it up to a future patient to guess about care quality. That’s because these sites rely on existing patients to voluntarily visit their site and leave a review and comments. To help local health care consumers better understand the care quality delivered by medical specialists in Brookings, Brookings Health has started publishing patient review information on our website, brookingshealth.org/provider-search. The patient review data published by Brookings Health comes from the patient surveys conducted by an independent survey company after hospital visits. That includes inpatient stays, outpatient procedures or emergency room visits. The reviews from local patients


are totaled together to create an aggregate star rating, reflecting important aspects of care, such as the provider’s bedside manner and communication with the patient. The star ratings and patient comments can be found on each medical specialist’s web profile. What’s more, people can feel reassured the comments come from actual, local patients who had a real experience with the physician as opposed to something just made up by an internet troll. Using a similar methodology from the patient surveys, Brookings Health has also posted star ratings for key health care services on brookingshealth.org. Those services include the emergency room, obstetrics, orthopedics, general surgery and inpatient care. Looking for a highly-rated, local health care specialist? Visit brookingshealth.org/provider-search.


The pandemic has affected us all in some way or another. One way it has impacted Brookings Health is by further increasing our cost conscientiousness. As such, we are transitioning our Inspiring Health newsletter from a print and digital publication to a solely digital publication. We will still keep the great, local health information coming to your email inbox. Make sure to subscribe at brookingshealth.org/IH. brookingshealth.org


TOP 20 AGAIN! Brookings Health System recently received three honors, including being named a 2021 Top 20 Rural Community Hospital in the United States, the only hospital in South Dakota to achieve the honor in 2021.

performance that span market-, value- and finance-based categories. Hospitals recognized as a Top 20 facility had one of the 20 highest overall scores among all Rural & Community Hospitals nationally, automatically qualifying them in the Top 100 category.

2021 is the fourth time in five years the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) has named Brookings Health to the elite Top 20 list. The health system was recognized at an awards ceremony during NRHA’s Rural Hospital Innovation Summit on May 21 in San Diego. The NRHA honors the 20 highest-ranked prospective payment system hospitals in the country based on an evaluation by The Chartis Center for Rural Health using iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®.

The list of this year’s Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals, as well as the 2021 INDEX methodology, can be found at ivantageindex.com/top-performing-hospitals.

“The fact that we remained a Top 20 hospital during such a challenging year speaks volumes about our team’s dedication to providing high-quality, compassionate, personalized health care to our patients,” said President and CEO Jason Merkley. “Our community can feel proud about the caliber of health care available locally from our excellent team of medical specialists, health care professionals and ancillary staff.” In addition, for the sixth consecutive year Brookings Health has been included by The Chartis Center for Rural Health on the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals list. The annual award honors rural hospital performance also as determined by the results of iVantage Health Analytics’ Hospital Strength INDEX®. Based entirely on publicly available data, the INDEX is the industry’s most comprehensive and objective assessment of rural hospital performance. Utilizing 50 independent indicators, the INDEX assesses performance across eight pillars of

Brookings Health System was also awarded on Newsweek’s list of World’s Best Hospitals 2021. This prestigious award is presented by Newsweek and Statista Inc., the world-leading statistics portal and industry ranking provider. The awards list was announced on Mar. 3 and can currently be viewed on Newsweek’s website. Brookings Health ranks 306 of the Best Hospitals 2021 in the United States. Newsweek and Statista developed a complex methodology to ensure the quality and validity of the ranking. Three data sources were used for the evaluation: Hospital recommendations from peers: an international online survey that included more than 74,000 doctors, hospital managers and health care professionals Patient experience: surveys measuring patient satisfaction with hospitals Medical key performance indicators (KPIs): patient safety, hygiene measures, and quality of treatment Learn more about Brookings Health System’s care quality at brookingshealth.org/Quality.

summer 2021


Physical & Emotional


For a month and half, Melanie Lunn was worried. She experienced unbearable menstrual pain so severe it made it difficult to maintain her normal daily routine, even when using over-the-counter medication. Working with her doctor, she found both physical and emotional relief through a hysterectomy.

Dr. Bennis laparoscopically removed Melanie’s uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes while preserving her ovaries to keep Melanie from prematurely entering menopause. After the surgery, Melanie stayed in the hospital overnight, receiving expert care to help her recover and deal with post-surgical pain. “The team was amazing,” said Melanie. “They were concerned about me and my recovery. They were always there to take care of me if I needed them. Just a lot of empathy and small town conversation.”

As a pharmacist, Melanie knew the importance of listening to her own body. During her annual well woman exam, she mentioned her pain to OB/GYN Dr. Larissa Bennis. “The most important thing for me going to a doctor is to be heard,” said Melanie. “I presented to Dr. Bennis my concerns at my appointment and she instantly listened to me as a patient and she gave me options to do further testing to get to the bottom of why I was experiencing the pain I was having.” That testing included lab work, a biopsy and a pelvic ultrasound. The ultrasound revealed a polyp. Dr. Bennis performed a procedure to remove the abnormality, but the polyp was so embedded in Melanie’s uterus, it couldn’t be fully removed. It would most likely continue to cause Melanie discomfort. Melanie knew she was done having children. After discussing different care options with Dr. Bennis, it became clear that hysterectomy was the best option to improve Melanie’s overall quality of life. “I didn’t hesitate to have my surgery here in Brookings,” said Melanie. “A lot of people feel bigger is better. We have a great health care team right here in Brookings, and I was very confident knowing that Dr. Bennis could do the procedure.”

In addition to the hometown atmosphere, Melanie appreciated the closeness to home. “My family was here, so my husband could take care of the kids and still be here with me.” Post-surgery, one of the biggest benefits Melanie now has is peace-of-mind. “Just the anticipation of knowing I could be in pain my next menstrual cycle, it put a lot of anxiety and stress in me,” Melanie said. “The ultimate goal through the surgery was to alleviate the pain, and we did that. So I don’t have that stress of knowing if I’m going to be able to go about my daily activities during my next menstrual cycle.” Learn more about gynecologic procedures and hear the rest of Melanie’s story at brookingshealth.org/MelanieL.


ENT CARE 4 Days a Week In partnership with Midwest ENT, Brookings Health is expanding ear, nose and throat services from three days a week to four days a week starting in July. Midwest Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) has been coming to Brookings Health to perform outreach since 2012. In order to better serve the patients of Brookings and care for medical and surgical treatments of ear, nose, throat and sinus problems, Midwest ENT will see patients at Brookings Health System’s Medical Plaza four days a week. “We’re expanding otolaryngology services in partnership with Midwest ENT to increase access for local patients,” said Brookings Health System President and CEO Jason Merkley. “By expanding availability, our community members should be able to have the majority of their general ear, nose and throat care needs taken care of here at home, saving them both travel time and money.”

care of the ear, nose, throat and sinuses. He’s available to assist people of all ages with chronic ear or sinus infections, allergies, sleep apnea, hearing loss, vertigo, acid reflux or cancers of the head and neck. Surgical procedures he may perform at Brookings Health System include:

Thomas Tamura, M.D.

Tonsil removal Adenoid removal PE tube insertion in the ear canal Sinus surgery, including image-guided sinus surgery and balloon sinuplasty Septoplasty to straighten the nasal septum between the two nasal cavities

ENT Medical Specialist Dr. Thomas Tamura, M.D., will hold clinic in Brookings and perform surgery at Brookings Hospital. As an experienced otolaryngologist, Dr. Tamura is available to assist patients in total

Holly Ralston, Au.D.

In addition, Dr. Holly Ralston, Au.D., will assist patients in the diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing and balance disorders. She works with patients to detect and assess the extent of hearing loss and determine the best rehabilitation of that loss, including recommendations for hearing aids and other assistive devices. Need to make an ENT appointment at Midwest ENT’s Brookings clinic? Call (605) 336-3503.

summer 2021


Helping Patients with Difficult to Heal Wounds 6

Brookings Health System Wound Center, an outpatient facility offering a comprehensive approach to helping patients with non-healing wounds, recently added hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy to its service offerings.

HBO therapy is an outpatient procedure that is provided once daily; the number of treatments is based on a patient’s wound type and care plan. One treatment takes about two hours and is quite comfortable for most patients.

HBO therapy is a medical treatment prescribed by a doctor to enhance the body’s ability to heal. During hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the patient breathes 100% pure oxygen while inside a pressurized chamber. The pressure inside this chamber is about two and a half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmosphere.

Once a patient is inside the hyperbaric chamber and the door is closed, oxygen will begin to circulate as the technician starts the gradual increase in pressure. This is called compression. Some patients experience a temporary warmth, but after the initial compression period, the temperature will regulate and be very comfortable.

This high-pressure environment allows the blood to carry more oxygen to all parts of the body to repair injured tissue. HBO therapy also helps to fight certain infections, such as those that occur in the bone.

During compression, patients may feel a fullness or popping sensation in the ears; similar to what is felt while flying in a plane or driving in the mountains. The HBO technician teaches patients how to clear their ears to relieve this sensation.

Many different conditions benefit from HBO therapy, especially chronic, non-healing wounds. HBO therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments. Conditions treated with HBO therapy include:

Diabetic foot ulcers

Chronic bone infections (osteomyelitis)

Non-healing surgical skin flaps and grafts

Symptoms caused by radiation therapy (such as pain, wounds, rectal or bladder bleeding)

Crush injuries

The compression period generally lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. Once the compression period is over, the fullness in the ears subsides. Patients remain in the chamber for 1.5 to 2 hours. During this time, patients can rest or sleep, watch television or listen to music. Near the end of the treatment, the technician will gradually decrease the pressure inside the chamber. This is called decompression. The Wound Center is equipped with two hyperbaric chambers and is open weekdays. For more information about wound care or to schedule an appointment, call (605) 696-8068 or visit online at brookingshealth.org/WoundCare.


THANK YOU for Supporting

Brookings Health System Foundation THANK YOU to everyone that supported Brookings Health System Foundation through the Flower Fundraiser this spring! Net proceeds of over $6,360 will support ongoing programs, facility, equipment and technology upgrades and continuing education opportunities for our community and staff. Visit brookingshealth.org/foundation to learn more about supporting local health care through Brookings Health System Foundation. A special thank you to Medary Acres Greenhouse for making this fundraiser possible through their generous support!

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” – Lady Bird Johnson

MyThanks Matters

Grateful Patient Program Want to show your appreciation for our team? Share Your Contribution

A financial gift made to Brookings Health System Foundation helps support ongoing programs within and throughout the health system. Your contribution may also honor a caregiver who made a difference in your stay.

Share Your Time

Volunteering time to Brookings Health System helps enhance the experience of patients, residents and visitors at our facilities.

Share Your Story

Telling others about the exceptional care experience at Brookings Health System helps bring more patients to our doors. Visit brookingshealth.org/MyThanks or call the Foundation at (605) 696-8855 for more information.

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.

It’s not too late to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If you haven’t chosen to get your COVID-19 vaccine yet, there’s still time to do so. Local clinics and pharmacies have vaccine doses available to immunize patients 12 years of age and older.

Vaccines work. Safely. Growing scientific evidence shows the vaccine effectively reduces

hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19. What’s more, the vaccines are safe. In order to receive Emergency Use Authorization, all vaccines were carefully tested through clinical trials. Plus, the FDA and CDC continuously monitor the vaccine for any adverse effects that arise.

Vaccine benefits outweigh risks. While you may experience some mild side effects for a couple of days after a vaccine injection, it beats being sick with COVID-19 for 10 to 14 days or more. In addition, once you’re fully vaccinated, you can start to do things you miss—like safely hug, shake hands and have close contact with other people who are also fully vaccinated; travel domestically without testing for COVID or quarantining after returning home; and no longer needing to quarantine if you have close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Vaccine mRNA technology has been around for 20 years. Research on mRNA technology,

like that used in the COVID-19 vaccine, started in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania discovered how to effectively introduce mRNA to the immune system. Human trials of cancer vaccines using mRNA have been taking place since 2011. What’s more, mRNA vaccines do not alter your DNA nor do they cause you to become sick with COVID-19. In fact, because mRNA technology can be deployed so quickly and clinical trials have been so successful, we’ll likely see new mRNA vaccines in the future. Make the right choice for your health. Get vaccinated. Learn how at brookingshealth.org/Vaccine.

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Inspiring Health Summer 2021  

Inspiring Health Summer 2021  


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