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Burke Memorial Hospital CEO Mistie Sachtjen, far left, and members of the hospital's board of directors and construction crews break ground on the facility's $6 million expansion Monday afternoon in Burke. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

Burke hospital breaks ground on $6M expansion

BURKE, S.D. — There was no shortage of excitement in Burke Monday afternoon as the town celebrated an investment in rural health care.

The Burke Community Memorial Hospital broke ground Monday on a multi-million dollar expansion project after several years of planning and fundraising, with approximately 125 community members and staff personnel gathered to celebrate Burke’s advancement in providing quality health care to the region.

“With rural health care evolving with more of a focus on outpatient care, you have to stay progressive and make sure you’re providing what’s needed close to home,” Hospital CEO Mistie Sachtjen said. “It shows the communities around us that it can be done.”

With an estimated cost of approximately $6 million, the addition will house clinic space, a pharmacy, radiology, a lab and an emergency room, adding 18,400 square feet to the hospital. The 16-bed critical access hospital was founded in 1948, and additions have been built since, with the last renovation taking place in 1988.

The clinic is currently located in a secondary building near the hospital, which Sachtjen said can be inconvenient for patients. Equally important, she said, is the project’s ability to promote efficiency among employees, so making hospital operations a “one-stop shop” will be ideal.

Following the expansion’s completion, set for fall 2018, Sachtjen hopes the clinic building can house additional services, like chiropractic or mental health care.

For Sachtjen, a Burke native who took over as CEO in July 2015, next week marks her two-year anniversary with the hospital, making Monday’s event especially momentous.

“I’m just excited for the facility and community in general,” Sachtjen said. “Being from here, and getting the amount of support that we have, it really is overwhelming.”

And, as much as Monday was a celebration for the hospital, Sachtjen said it was just as much a function to thank the community for its “outstanding support.”

The hospital has raised more than $1.2 million for the project, largely acquired during various fundraisers in Burke. The hospital also secured a $6.627 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, but Sachtjen said hospital officials are finalizing details about how much will be used, and likely won’t have to use all of what was granted.

“This is just really huge for us,” Sachtjen said. “What the community members did to get this project off the ground shows their pride in our community — it’s monumental. When they want a project done, they stand behind it until it’s done.”  

Burke Memorial Hospital Board of Directors President Tom Glover echoed Sachtjen, giving much of the credit for the expansion’s success so far to the generosity of people in Burke and around the region.

Often, he said, he is asked why he feels it’s necessary to invest in the 600-person town’s hospital, and he always gives the same answer.

“It’s because of (the people) we do what we do,” Glover said. “That’s all there is to it.”