Program areas at Avera Health
Avera Health is a nonprofit corporation jointly sponsored by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Aberdeen, South Dakota and the Benedictine Convent of the Sacred Heart of Yankton, South Dakota, together referenced as the "Sisters." Avera Health acts as the leader of the Avera health ministry, serving as an overall parent to support its affiliated tax-exempt health care organizations. These organizations provide services principally in eastern South Dakota and surrounding states. Avera Health provides management consulting, fund raising and other administrative services to the hospitals, long-term health care facilities, clinics, services and programs that are sponsored or otherwise affiliated with the Sisters.Avel eCARE is a visionary care delivery model that provides rural health care professionals around-the-clock access to specialty care physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Using advanced communication technology, eCARE supports rural facilities in the provision of evidence-based, high-quality care and offsets workforce shortages in rural communities. eCARE is a natural extension of Avera's Health mission and its century-long commitment to its rural communities to maintain access to quality care close to home. Avel eCARE works with some of the most underserved populations in the United States. This includes frontier populations, long term care residents, Native American Reservations, disabled veterans, and inmates. By bringing high quality, on demand access to specialty care, these unique populations are able to receive care within their home community and in a familiar, culturally appropriate setting. They are treated in coordination with the local practitioners that best understand their ongoing care needs.During the COVID pandemic over the last two years, Avera Health and its affiliated entities have stewarded significant funding toward community benefit, from our own resources and from state and federal assistance and relief funds. When the first cases were identified in 2020, we created a 24/7 hotline people could call to inquire about testing, treatment, and later vaccination. This hotline minimized the burden of clinics and helped protect patients and the public by keeping patients from presenting to healthcare facilities in person. Along with the hotline, Avera launched an innovative and specialized program for caring for COVID patients at home, including daily check-ins, virtual visits (if needed) and at-home oxygen therapy. Throughout the pandemic this program has supported patients and kept hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.Additionally, we launched public awareness campaigns for masking and vaccination that included earned media, paid advertising, and digital presence. We set up testing sites and events, including a mass testing event for workers at the local protein plant. The state delegated vaccination efforts to South Dakota's health systems, and our state was recognized nationally for our "shots in arms" efficiency. Avera led efforts to prioritize those at highest risk, including not only elderly and infirm but homeless, congregate living residents and protein plant workers which included a high percentage of immigrants. We participated in national research for COVID therapies including convalescent plasma, monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications. We worked with local and state officials to inform the public at regular press conferences and expanded bed capacity by reallocating resources across all hospitals in our system. Avera partnered with other health facilities and systems to ensure capacity for the sickest patients, and those in need of ICU care and ventilators. Avera also launched efforts to support and retain health care workforce, including such things as paying health insurance premiums, providing support payments, $2 across-the-board pay increases, increased on-call pay and shift differentials, and more.