People in rural areas sometimes have to drive dozens of miles for medical help. Avera Flandreau Hospital and Medical Group is the only hospital and clinic in Moody County. But an expansion project at the medical center is expected to improve medical care for people in the county.
Flandreau is only a 45-minute drive from Sioux Falls. But during a medical emergency, that drive can make a huge difference.
"This is an agricultural community and a lot of older people and some of us in our wonderful South Dakota winters don't want to drive if we don't have to," Smith said.
Fred Smith has been a patient at the Flandreau hospital for years.
"I was born in the hospital in 1940," Smith said.
So he's used to the fact that the hospital has no central air conditioning and part of the building is made up of seven trailer houses pieced together.
But soon the decades-old building will be replaced by a new clinic and hospital.
"The original hospital was built in 1936. The older clinic was even built longer than that ago," Chief of Staff Dr. Gary Bruning said.
The almost $8 million project will include a new clinic with 12 exam rooms, two procedure rooms, an outreach physician clinic, and a new laboratory. Crews will also build a new emergency department in the hospital and improve the hospital's inpatient areas.
"The biggest thing is this will provide medical stability for many years to come with a new clinic and hospital," Bruning said.
Dr. Bruning says they're not just excited about the new clinic and hospital being built but also the new medical equipment that will be inside.
"The nice thing about this new hospital is that it will have all of the electronic features. If you're sick, you'll go on TV, and in two seconds we have somebody who knows exactly about your disease and can treat it," Bruning said.
The new medical facility will also have state-of-the-art CAT scanners and ultrasound equipment.
Smith says he's happy not just for current patients like himself but generations to come.
"I see a lot of young families coming in here for their health care now too," Smith said.
Construction is expected to be done by the middle of 2013.