Ivanhoe adds another option for health care in its community

The small town of Ivanhoe is now proud to say that it has two medical clinics: the Ivanhoe Medical Center and the Avera Medical Group-Ivanhoe.

Both clinics have just opened at the beginning of July in new facilities.

The Ivanhoe Medical Center was the original. It previously resided in the Divine Providence Health Center with the DPHC Nursing Home. When April came this year, DPHC did not renew the contract with the Ivanhoe Medical Center to keep its clinic in the building. That is when the medical center pursued its interest in moving into the Ivanhoe Vet Clinic building.

Dr. Scott Kuecker of Marshall, owner of the vet clinic, was willing to move his practice and allow the medical clinic to lease out the building he had been in.

“Joe Pavek was a great help as a general contractor and the man who owned the building we were moving into. We had to replace the whole front of the building to make it handicap accessible. Most of the inside work was cosmetic – insulating the walls, putting in new carpet and painting. The bathrooms also had to be made handicap accessible. We had to make sure all of the rooms were proper size. Some doors had to be made wider as well,” said Jeff Gollaher, CEO?of the Hendricks Hospice Association.

The Ivanhoe Medical Center had a very small window of time to get moved and settled in.

“We were notified in April that our lease was being terminated. The previous tenant was contacted on May 1st and was moved out by May 20th. It took about 30 days for all of the changes to be made,” Gollaher said.

The same staff will be operating the clinic with the same equipment.

“Really, it was just a move. We are extremely pleased to continue to meet the needs of the Ivanhoe community,” Gollaher said.

The clinic will have two new doctors by the end of the year. One is coming on Aug. 1 and the other on Oct. 1.

On Thursday, July 11, there was an open house at the clinic where the community could come see how the move turned out.

“The move and everything went well for us. We had a high attendance at our open house last week,” said Kemberly Nelson, a receptionist for the Ivanhoe Medical Center.

“This has been my first week in the new clinic, and it has been extremely busy. We are all still learning where everything is at. The experience has been exciting and interesting,” said Deb Browning, certified family nurse practitioner and doctor of nursing practice at the Ivanhoe Medical Center.

“We were closed down for two weeks, but our patients were patient with us. The lines were still open, and they knew they could come in to Hendricks if needed,” Browning said.

As the medical center moved out of the DPHC building, Avera Medical Group moved in. It was happy to make an addition to the small community.

“We didn’t seek out Ivanhoe as a place to set up shop,” said Deann Holland, who works with community relations for Avera. “They sent out a request for proposal, and we responded. Really, they were asking how a provider could fulfill the needs of the community. It is my understanding that we were the only ones to respond.”

“We worked with Mike Panka and the board of directors for Divine Providence. They wanted to make sure to look at the future for the nursing home. Divine Providence wanted more choice and access for the people through the clinic,” Holland added.

Since Avera has come to Ivanhoe, the people of the community now have access to health care from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

“Right from the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we had a provider there every day of the week. On Thursday, we had an open house that was well attended. There were positive comments and interest from the community,” Holland said.

“We opened about two weeks ago. We received a warm welcome from the community. Things are picking up and there has been a lot of interest shown in our services,” said Heidi Hansen, certified nurse practitioner for the Avera Medical Group Ivanhoe.

Hansen is originally from Tyler. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a nurse practitioner degree this spring.

“I wanted to come back home. When this opportunity arose, it was perfect,” Hansen said.

“This is a good thing for our community. Having two clinics gives people options for medical care. We don’t have a hospital, but the people of Ivanhoe can now get better references from two different places. It is tough to make a go in a small town, but we are lucky enough to have two places to go for medical care,” said Ivanhoe Mayor Doyle Sorensen.