USDA Rural Development participates in hospital blessing

Posted June 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Elsie Meeks, USDA Rural Development State Director, was in Miller June 19 to help celebrate the opening of the Hand County Memorial Hospital Campus renovation and expansion of the existing hospital.  The building project was made possible thanks to a $3.5 million Community Facility loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) from USDA Rural Development. 

“These improvements to the Hand County Hospital will be such a benefit to the community and will allow hospital staff to provide better, more efficient services to its patients,” said Meeks. “This project is an example of the Obama’s Administration’s ongoing commitment to strengthen rural communities.”

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Ruth A. Moller|The Miller Press
FATHER CHESTER MURTHA, St. Ann Catholic Church, Miller, bestowed a blessing on Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital and related facilities, and its staff, on July 19. He cited the mission of healing, and bringing comfort to body, mind and spirit, and said the newly-added chapel is another aspect of aiding the healing process. Hospital administrator Bryan Breitling gave an overview of the renovation/expansion project’s timeline, and said, even in the midst of construction, high-quality care continued to be consistently provided. In addition to hospital-clinic staff, others present for the blessing were representatives from the hospital board, Avera McKennan, and from USDA, which provided $3.5 million of the project funding.

This project involves remodeling 13,000 square feet, adding 15,400 square feet of new space and eliminating 12,000 square feet of non-useable space. The project was completed in phases including moving patient services and dietary departments to the new addition and therapy, cardiac rehab, wellness and other activities to the renovated section, and the final phase demolished what was left of the old economically obsolete 1947 building. This hospital provides medical support for a large rural area. 

The federal funding was leveraged with an applicant contribution of $700,000, State of South Dakota’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) of $300,000, and community development donations of $1,000,000.

“The community recognized the need to upgrade the hospital and really came together to raise the required donations to make this happen. We now have a virtually new hospital that we can be proud of for many years,” said Bryan J. Breitling, administrator for Avera Hand County Memorial Hospital. “The new and renovated areas will allow inpatients to heal in a more comfortable environment, the focus of wellness is very evident and proudly shown throughout the campus, access to any department is now easy without steps or elevators, and having the dining room connected to the kitchen enhances the quality of the food for the assisted living resident. The campus now reflects the state of the art healing environments of large urban hospital campuses – right here in Miller. The added benefit is recruitment of certified medical personnel has already shown to be easier and more successful with a new campus and the community’s dedication to health care in the region.”