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“We’re stronger together,” ~Gov. Kim Reynolds

Governor, Lt. Governor visit Avera Holy Family

August 11, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

"We're stronger together," Governor Kim Reynolds said during a tour of Avera Holy Family Hospital in Estherville Wednesday morning.

Reynolds said, "The private money that you raised for [the new Emergency Room facility at the hospital] says a lot about the commitment of this community."

Chamber director Lexie Ruter received a message last week asking about a tour in Estherville for the governor and lieutenant governor to attend. Mired in arrangements for Sweet Corn Days, Ruter handed the task off to Avera Holy Family Hospital. In addition to the new ER, Reynolds and Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg saw the Avera Holy Family Clinic, the nurses' station and patient rooms on the first floor of the hospital, and the ambulance garage outside the ER.

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'E' was the letter of the day during the tour as hospital CEO Deb Herzberg and ER director and board member Dr. Jim Creech told the governor and lieutenant governor about the e-services in the hospital. Electronic charting means doctors from all over the Avera network can look at the same information while providing e-medicine, or telemedicine to patients at Avera Holy Family.

In addition to the e-ER, the e-Pharmacy allows Avera Holy Family to serve patients 24-7. Though there is a doctor staffing the ER all the time, the ER doctor's life can get complicated when they are trying to treat a trauma patient when another patient comes in who does also need immediate care. With E-consultations with Avera in Sioux Falls, ER nurses can get care started before the ER doctor comes in to see the patient.

Creech said he currently has two patients in the hospital who have complicated infectious disease issues.

"They both got telemedicine consultations by an infectious disease specialist in Sioux Falls yesterday who gave us recommendations," Creech said.

Herzberg said partnerships were key, too. Pregnant women can receive prenatal care from family practice doctors at Avera Holy Family clinics. However, the hospital does not have obstetrics care and its doctors do not deliver babies. Creech explained that to keep an obstetrics certification, a doctor should deliver 125 babies each year A partnership with Lakes Regional Hospital means Estherville babies can be born 15 minutes away with care coordinated between places.

"Thinking of these services as regional and sharing by using technology is going to be really, really huge," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said, "I know it's hard to recruit young doctors to the rural areas because working in a small area can be overwhelming. This is a way you can say, 'You will have somewhat of a normal lifestyle and we will let you have some time with your family.' I thought that was a big component of it."

Herzberg said, "When you're in a small, critical-access hospital, you don't see everything every day."

e-Medicine allows doctors from Avera Holy Family to consult with specialists in Sioux Falls who have more experience with less common ailments and injuries so patients receive quality care, Herzberg said.

Reynolds spearheaded the launch of the statewide children's mental health system when she signed a bill into law April 30, 2019. The system has been built from the ground up, Reynolds said, and the governor's office is seeking partners who can provide care and an integrated network of providers for children.

Herzberg said Avera Holy Family received a federal planning grant of nearly $100,000 to expand access to, coordinate and improve the quality of essential health care services and strengthen the rural health care system as a whole. The Estherville News will have more about this partnership among Avera Holy Family Hospital, Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District and Emmet County Public Health in an upcoming issue. Joseph May, Mission Director for Avera Holy Family, is project director.

Reynolds said she wants to learn more about the project, saying, "We're also trying to be a partner in that and provide some training so [school officials and others] can recognize some of the warning signs of suicidal ideation. We really need to bring all of this together."

Reynolds shared her passion for children's mental health saying, "What a world we could create if we intervene with people when they are young, helping children with their mental health so they can grow to be healthier adults and see what their lives can be. These initiatives will save lives."

Reynolds and Gregg travel the state throughout the year. Their public schedules are available on their respective websites.



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