Andersen recognized for contributions to Vermillion health care

Andersen recognized for contributions to Vermillion health care by David Lias Max Andersen admits he never thought he'd live in Vermillion for a long time once he began working in the laboratory at Dakota Hospital in Vermillion over three decades ago.

John Gors, president of the Dakota Hospital Association and Foundation, said he talked to Andersen about that very subject recently as they rode together in the Dakota Days Parade in the Sioux Valley Hospital golf cart.

"Max and I were visiting, and I asked him what brought him to Vermillion," Gors said at the Dakota Hospital Association & Foundation Builders Club Community Leadership Luncheon, held Nov. 1 at USD.

He said, 'Well, we wandered in from Iowa about 34 years ago, thought we'd be around for a couple years and then move on to bigger and better things. And we just liked it. We liked Vermillion and we just stayed.'"

Andersen, laboratory manager at the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center, is recipient of the 2002 Community Health Service Award.

"Back in 1968, if someone would have asked me then if I would have been here in 2002, I probably would have said no, I would have moved to bigger and better things," Andersen said shortly after receiving the award. "I like to think in the 34 years that I've worked here, bigger and better things have happened in our hospital."

When Andersen came to the Vermillion, the laboratory, like many in rural South Dakota, was equipped with little more than a microscope and spectrometer.

"If you came to see our lab today, you would know that none of those things exist anymore, and we have some of the finest equipment you could find in the United States," he said. "I've been very fortunate in the years that I've been here that I've had some excellent help to help me run the laboratory."

Andersen graduated from Westmar College in 1964, and completed his internship in medical technology in 1965.

He worked in special chemistry and microbiology at St. Joseph Hospital (currently Mercy Medical Center) in Sioux City, IA until October 1968 when he was hired by Dakota Hospital in Vermillion.

Andersen has served on several committees during his tenure at the Vermillion hospital, including infection control, safety and quality assurance. He serves on the value analysis team at Sioux Valley and is chair of the Sioux Valley Lab Network.

He has been a member of the American Society of Clinical Pathology since 1965. He and his wife, Linda, are parents of Holly (Andersen) Brunick and Dennis Andersen. They have five grandchildren.

The Community Health Service Award, established by the Dakota Hospital Association and Foundation board of directors in 2001, recognizes outstanding contributions of time, talent and resources benefiting the health of the community.

Recipients are selected by the Dakota Hospital Association and Foundation Board for their significant lifetime dedication or unique, noteworthy contributions to community health services.

A solid foundation

Gors told the luncheon audience that the Dakota Hospital Association & Foundation is playing a vital role in the success of the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center.

"The organization has a long history here in the city of Vermillion, going back to the early 1930s. It was only through the volunteer effort of community people that this hospital was organized and built, maintained and operated as an effective health care provider for not only the residents of Vermillion but also the greater Vermillion community and surrounding areas," he said. "That situation truly has not changed � even though our partnership with Sioux Valley has put a different twist on things, we still are very proud of the Dakota Hospital Association Foundation and the role that we play in community health care."

The foundation is presently involved in a rather substantial remodeling project in the old hospital building, Gors said. Contractors have torn one of the original old boilers out of the building's basement.

"We have undergone and are coming close to completing approximately a $650,000 renovation on our heating, ventilating and air conditioning system," he said. "That building should now be poised to serve our needs for many, many years in the future."

Gors said Dakota Hospital is also involved in an ongoing dialogue with The University of South Dakota for the University Village concept.

"This is a housing plan that's on the drawing board and being looked at," he said. "It is something we want to play a part in along with Sioux Valley, the university and the university foundation.

Gors also thanks those attending the luncheon for their support of the builder's club.

"It allows us to do some things that we couldn't otherwise do, it allows us to bring some services, possibly buy equipment and provide for the greater well-being of our patients and our residents in the care facility in ways that we wouldn't be able to do without that support," he said.

For example, the Vermillion Civic Council recently presented the hospital with a very generous donation, Gors said. "It allowed us to buy a very necessary piece of equipment for the hospital that will help everyone providing services to the patients and the residents," he said. "To those of you who are not very well acquainted with the Civic Council, I think it's maybe the best kept secret in the town of Vermillion and maybe in the state of South Dakota.

"The volunteers and the staff of that organization provide a tremendous amount of support to the community and to community activities," Gors said. "They do it in a very low-key, quiet manner. It's clear they are more interested in seeing the task accomplished than in receiving recognition."

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