HomeHometown Healthcare Hero​Hometown Healthcare Heroes: Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen

​Hometown Healthcare Heroes: Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen

Congratulations to this month’s Hometown Healthcare Heroes recipient, Avera St. Luke’s Hospital in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

To help member facilities with workforce needs, SDAHO launched the Hometown Healthcare Heroes campaign. This storytelling campaign is designed to recognize career opportunities at member facilities and celebrate the people that work there and the communities they live.

Aberdeen serves as the county seat for Brown County, with a population just under 30,000 people, making it the 3rd largest community in South Dakota. The area is known for many things such as the birthplace of Super 8 Motels, Dacotah Bank, Storybook Land and Avera St. Luke’s. “Avera St. Luke’s is a highly rated 5-star hospital, and there are very few of those around the country.” Tom Seyer, Business Owner, Avera St. Luke’s Board of Directors, Chair.

Avera St. Luke’s is also the region’s only verified Level III Trauma Center – as designated by the American College of Surgeons for comprehensive 24/7 response to emergencies. Milissa Podoll is the Trauma Coordinator for Avera St. Luke’s. “This designation sets us above everyone else in this area because we can keep patients here and we are held at a very high standard.” Milissa Podoll, RN, BSN, Trauma Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s. Whether a patient is being seen in emergency services, inpatient care or one of the many specialty clinics, all receive top notch treatment. “We do everything we can to make everyone feel welcome; it goes back to that small town feel in a bigger facility.” Milissa Podoll, RN, BSN Trauma Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s.

Avera St. Luke’s is licensed for 50 beds, with an additional 10 beds for its inpatient Behavior Health services. It also offers:

  • Level III Trauma Center and Emergency Department with 24/7 heart care
  • Long-Term Skilled Care
  • Assisted Living and Independent Living

Avera St. Lukes also offers a variety of featured health services:

  • Behavioral Health
  • Nutrition Services
  • Orthopedics & Spine Care
  • Infectious Disease & Public Health
  • Internal Medicine
  • Kidney Dialysis
  • Laboratory
  • Pharmacy
  • Blood Diseases and Disorders
  • Pain Management / Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
  • Pediatrics
  • Primary Care
  • Women’s Health
  • Radiology and Imaging
  • Wellness and Preventive Care
  • Respiratory and Pulmonary Care
  • Telemedicine
  • Women’s Center
  • Orthopedics
  • General Surgery & Specialty Surgery
  • Wound Care / Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
  • Several Avera Medical Group Clinics with varying specialties
  • Don and Carmen Meyer Center of Excellence, home of Avera Cancer Institute, Aberdeen

Melissa Waldner, Inpatient Education Coordinator with Avera St. Luke’s, has come to appreciate the many services the hospital provides that can sometimes be hard to find in a smaller community. “I like living and working in Aberdeen. It is a small community. I don’t have a long commute to work; it’s just a few minutes’ drive. Crime is low and I feel safe living here.” Melissa Waldner, Inpatient Education Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s

Avera St. Luke’s has a long history that began more than a century ago when the Presentation Sisters of Aberdeen were asked to turn their school classrooms into sick wards during a diphtheria epidemic. As a result of their response to this crisis, the doctors and citizens of Aberdeen asked the Sisters to establish a hospital. Through the decades, Avera St. Luke’s continues to grow in response to health needs as part of the region-leading health system. “That mission that came from the Presentation Sisters survives today and you see it every day, everywhere you go. Avera St. Luke’s is one of the largest employers and commonly you see hospital leaders who also sit on local boards and are involved in important community projects.” Tom Seyer, Business Owner, Avera St. Luke’s Board of Directors, Chair.

Those who call Aberdeen home are thankful for the low cost of living and lower taxes. “As you travel around the country you see that home prices and those homes like ones here in Aberdeen are significantly higher in other parts of the country and our taxes are low. We have no state income tax which is attractive to a lot of people.” Tom Seyer, Business Owner, Avera St. Luke’s Board of Directors, Chair.

Professional development and growth are both additional focus areas for Avera St. Luke’s. “I’ve grown so much over the years here. I’ve gone from being a staff nurse, to a resource nurse, to a charge nurse and now I am in the educational role. The fact that we have internships available for newer nurses to get their feet wet is great.” Melissa Waldner, Inpatient Education Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s

In addition, employees can earn certifications with hands-on learning on site. “We do a lot of teaching of trauma courses and all of your basic heart courses and if you are interested in furthering your education, you can speak with your managers about pursuing your unit specific certifications.”  Milissa Podoll, RN, BSN Trauma Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s.

Aberdeen offers residents both modern amenities with a robust shopping and entertainment part of town, in addition to a historic downtown that has been revitalized, offering visitors the feel of yesterday with today’s conveniences. “There is everything from ax throwing, bowling, movies, and darts, to miles and miles of walking and biking trails. We also have three lakes that are close by and three golf courses.”  Milissa Podoll, RN, BSN, Trauma Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s.

Aberdeen is most known for Storybook Land, a nursery rhyme inspired miniature theme park. There is also the Land of Oz located within Storybook land that portrays the well-known characters and settings of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “Surrounding Storybook Land is Wylie Park, which features a lake, campgrounds, a big park area and playgrounds. Northern State University also is here. Recently they built a new football stadium, which is nice.” Tom Seyer, Business Owner, Avera St. Luke’s Board of Directors, Chair

Aberdeen offers families a variety of educational opportunities for K-12 students including a Christian school, Catholic school, public elementary and junior high, and a newly built public high school.

Ready to begin your career with Avera St. Luke’s and begin your life in Aberdeen?

Job opportunities include:

  • RNs
  • LPNs
  • Nursing Assistants
  • Dietary
  • And more…

There are sign-on bonuses for some positions and tuition reimbursement. Employees also receive a robust comprehensive benefits package that includes 40 hours front-loaded PTO, in addition:

  • Dental Insurance
  • Health Insurance, with a free option for single coverage with a high-deductible health plan
  • Vision Insurance
  • Retirement
  • Voluntary benefits like Long-Term Care
  • Short-Term / Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Employee Assistance Programs

“It feels like home, I feel safe and supported, and that is one more thing Avera has going for it. I think our upper management does a great job advocating for us.” Melissa Waldner, Inpatient Education Coordinator, Avera St. Luke’s

“As a health care provider, you think about your next step and where it’s going to be. This decision isn’t just about the facility, but about the quality of life you will have and that your family is going to have. Health care is challenging, and you want a place that is mission based, that has an administration that understands the value of health care professionals. There is also something about a sunset in South Dakota and one of my favorite things about Aberdeen is watching the sunsets.” Tom Seyer, Business Owner, Avera St. Luke’s Board of Directors, Chair

Learn more about job opportunities with Avera St. Luke’s here: www.avera.org/careers.

Watch the video featuring Avera St. Luke’s, visit the SDAHO YouTube Page Here

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