Sioux Falls Avera Behavioral Health Center set to expand with new four-floor wing

Artist rendering courtesy of Avera Avera Health announced in December that it plans to build a four-story wing as part of a $28 million expansion to its Behavioral Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D. Avera released this artist rendering of the center with expansion.

MARSHALL — Avera Health announced in December that it plans to build a four-story wing as part of a $28 million expansion to its Behavioral Health Center in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The unit will provide additional care for children and adolescents, addiction treatment for youth, round the clock psychiatric urgent care and partial hospitalization space.

The expansion comes through support from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which supplied $13 million in grant funding — $8 million of which coming in the form of a gift and a $5 million matching portion. Walter Panzirer, a trustee with the Helmsley Charitable Trust, said the need for these services is expanding, and will benefit youth across multiple states.

“The need for psychiatric care for at-risk youth is great, and the needs are complex. Anger, acting out, anxiety, depression and chemical dependency are being seen in children and adolescents at younger ages, and the numbers are growing,” Panzirer said in a press release. “This expansion will help care for all of the needs that Avera is presented with. Avera Behavioral Health is the only provider of many of these services in a 250-mile radius. We want to help provide resources so that youth and their families can experience the life-changing intervention offered by expert and dedicated professionals.”

The release cited alarming statistics regarding the suicide rate among youth ages 10 to 14, which, according to the Center for Disease Control, has more than doubled from 1999 to 2018. Also, nearly half of U.S. high school seniors admitted to using an illicit drug in their lifetime.

The troubling trends are among the many reasons why the Helmsley Charitable Trust and Avera have partnered up for the expansion.

“Caring for our children’s mental health needs is a priority,” Panzirer said. “That’s why we see this investment as vitally important.”

President and CEO of Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, David Flicek, thanked the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their support in making the expansion a reality.

“We are extremely grateful that the Helmsley Charitable Trust recognizes these pressing needs and is responding with this transformational gift,” said Flicek in a press release. “Helmsley has worked with Avera to identify needs and provide varied solutions in this innovative project. Avera Behavioral Health is one of the largest providers of mental health care in the Midwest. This new wing will change many lives for the better.”

The new behavioral health wing will include four floors, with the first floor devoted to 24-hour psychiatric care. Partial hospitalization for youth will also be offered for the first time at Avera on the ground floor. Partial hospitalization allows for youth patients to split time between school and receiving behavioral health care.

The second floor will provide additional adult bed space, while the third floor will be devoted to the senior behavioral health unit. The fourth floor will offer a 14-bed child unit and youth residential addiction care.


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