Simplified: Avera Health this week announced plans to build a brand new, six-story addition to its McKennan campus as well as a three-story digestive health services building at the Avera on Louise campus. Here's what you need to know about the historic $245 million project.

Why it matters

  • This project will be the largest building project in the health system's history with a planned 350,000 square feet, and it's a massive investment in hospital space to care specifically for women and children – as well as a way to accommodate for future growth in the region.
  • Avera has seen an increase in demand for pediatric specialties, and overall, the organization sees more than 1 million outpatient visits each year. The hope with this project is to create space to accommodate both those patients and the ever-growing population of Sioux Falls.
  • Additionally, moving the hospital system's digestive health services to one building will free up room for orthopedics – both of which are high-demand services, Place added. The construction project will also move all of Avera's cancer services under one roof at the Prairie Center.
"You should not have to go out of town (for medical care)," Avera President and CEO Jim Dover said. "You should to the Twin Cities. You should not have to go to Omaha. ... We're proud that people can receive their care here that's on par with the best universities."

Tell me more about new tower

The six-story tower will replace the existing Plaza 3 building on the McKennan Campus.

That'll create a clear "front door" for Avera McKennan, said Dr. Ron Place, regional president and CEO. It'll also bring more space for pediatrics, neonatal intensive care, and labor and delivery.

Services will include dedicated and centralized space for women's and children's acute care, as well as expanded space for:

  • a newborn nursery,
  • neonative intensive care unit,
  • pediatric hospital care,
  • pediatric intensive care,
  • obstetrics and gynecology,
  • urogynecology,
  • internal medicine care for women,
  • family medicine,
  • and more.
"It's going to be a physical way to show the world we care about women, and we care about children," philanthropist and board member Jennifer Kirby said during a press conference Wednesday.

One level of the tower will serve as shell space for future surgical expansion, and one-third of the tower overall is designed as shell space for future growth.

The building will connect with existing levels of the main hospital – meaning expanded space without the need to move around existing services too much.

Tell me more about the new digestive health building

Right now, gastroenterology services are located in the Avera Specialty Hospital. That space will instead be converted to meet a growing demand for orthopedics.

  • The ground floor of the building will be dedicated to gastroenterology procedures as well as pre- and post-procedure care.
  • The second floor will house Avera's digestive health clinic, with room for more providers.
  • The third floor will reserve space for future growth, as well as space to build future floors if needed.

What happens next?

Avera will begin relocating the services currently offered in the Plaza 3 building this spring, Place said.

  • After that, it'll be a relatively quick demolition with construction on the new tower expected to begin late summer.

Avera is expected to break ground on the new digestive health building in early summer, with hopes to open by early 2026.

The new tower is expected to be completed and open in early 2027.

You can learn more about the project on Avera's website.