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Noem Announces Partnership Between DSS, Avera Behavioral Health to Provide Additional Services Following Sioux Falls Tornado

For Immediate Release

September 16, 2019

Contact: Kristin Wileman 


Noem Announces Partnership Between DSS, Avera Behavioral Health to Provide Additional Services Following Sioux Falls Tornado


PIERRE, S.D. – When tragedy strikes, South Dakota comes together. Governor Kristi Noem today announced that South Dakota’s Department of Social Services (DSS) is working with Avera Behavioral Health to provide support for patients affected by the tornado damage in Sioux Falls Tuesday evening.


Avera Behavioral Health will be utilizing two adult acute units and will begin utilizing an adolescent unit at Human Services Center (HSC) in Yankton. The adult units have been closed due to staffing shortages.


“South Dakotans are strong, and when tough times hit, we come together. We help in any way we can,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “This partnership is a great way the State can partner with the community to meet a critical need in the area.”


Space at the HSC will allow up to 30 beds for adult and 20 beds for adolescent psychiatric care. Pediatric and adolescent patients are currently being treated in a subset of the pediatric unit at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center in Sioux Falls.


“This collaboration is allowing two agencies – Avera and HSC – to come together to meet the behavioral health needs of our state and region,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health Services. “We are grateful for the state’s collaboration. This is an innovative way to utilize existing resources to meet the needs of our residents.”


Patients were transferred to HSC Wednesday evening. Avera Behavioral Health staff are on-site providing services and operating from the HSC units. Avera is also providing all medications and lab services needed in order to care for patients. Avera will continue to provide their services to patients at HSC until the building in Sioux Falls has been repaired and is determined safe to reopen.


“My team has been in full swing since Wednesday morning working with Avera,” said DSS Secretary Laurie Gill. “This is a great example of a public/private collaboration to ensure support and services are uninterrupted and continuous for South Dakotans.” 


Both facilities have been working closely and providing updates to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure the health and safety of the patients impacted.


About HSC: HSC is a licensed in-patient state psychiatric hospital and chemical dependency treatment facility which provides services for acute, psychiatric rehabilitation, geriatric, and adolescent patients. The hospital has been providing care to the people of South Dakota since 1879. 


About DSS: The Department of Social Services strives to provide programs and services to strengthen, support, and protect children and families in South Dakota. For more information about Department of Social Services programs and services please visit our website at dss.sd.gov or visit a DSS local office.


About Avera: The Avera Health system has over 18,000 employees and physicians, serving more than 300 locations and 100 communities in a five-state region. Our ministry, our people and our superior value distinguish Avera. We carry on the health care legacy of the Benedictine and Presentation Sisters, delivering care in an environment guided by our values of compassion, hospitality and stewardship. For more information about Avera, see our website at Avera.org.