It’s been 40 years since Monument Health Rapid City Hospital built its labor and delivery rooms. For families across a 250-mile radius who have babies born from 1983 to 2023, the physical atmosphere has remained much the same.

What hasn’t remained the same are the medical practices, equipment and expectations of family members. Because of those changes, more room is needed to accommodate the latest medical equipment while still allowing space for family members to support laboring mothers. Infants in the NICU and their families are currently in 8×10′ areas with little privacy, and pediatric rooms have a similar problem with limited space for family and equipment. In short — newer medical practices, equipment and support for family members in the rooms require more space in order to continue providing the highest-quality care possible.

That’s why the Monument Health Foundation is leading a capital fundraising campaign to fund the addition of 49,000 square feet to the labor and delivery, NICU and pediatric care areas. Upgrades will include an outside drop off loop; a dedicated entrance where caregivers will greet you directly; four private triage rooms; 11 technically advanced and spacious labor and delivery rooms; two larger operating rooms; 20 private rooms dedicated to postpartum, antepartum and gynecologic inpatient care; and separate NICU rooms with nearly triple the space for each baby and their families. Additionally, the pediatric intensive care unit and pediatrics will have larger private rooms to accommodate for family members and modern medical equipment.

Rendering of the Rapid City Hospital Children’s Expansion

“This upgrade will allow Rapid City Hospital to better support our patients and our growing community. It’s going to provide an ideal care atmosphere to start or build your family,” said Hans Nelson, Director of the Monument Health Foundation.

After spending 15 years working in the non-profit realm, Hans joined Monument Health as the Foundation’s director in January 2022. Hans’ team consists of seven caregivers who are leading this campaign. Other physicians, caregivers and advocates are supporting the campaign through outreach to donors in the community. Monument Health Development Officers Mark Papousek and Kelsie Dietrich joined the team soon after Hans started in his role. Mark brings nearly 20 years in sales experience and Kelsie brings 12 years of sales and marketing experience. Both have transitioned quickly from selling a tangible product to sharing a big idea and garnering financial support from the community.

The Monument Health Foundation team

“Medical practices have changed drastically over the last 40 years to where more space is needed, not only for caregiving equipment, but also just for the way care is delivered,” said Mark. “In order to keep up and be a viable area for families to move to and live, we need to provide advanced medical care for everyone under 18 years old.”

In addition to her professional experience, Kelsie brings her experience as a new mom to an infant and toddler to the table in her role with Monument Health Foundation.

“As someone who has used the facility, I have personally experienced the great care we provide to newborns and their families. While the care is impeccable, the space needs updates to accommodate advancements in medical care,” Kelsie said. “This expansion will fill a community need for the youngest and most vulnerable of our patients.”

The most needed upgrade to the space is the NICU expansion. The NICU currently serves a wide radius of families, coming from as far as Chadron, Neb., and Sheridan, Wyo. The upgrade will provide NICU patients their own rooms, giving families space to spend time with their tiny babies.

Another upgrade the Foundation is looking forward to with the expansion – a better space for Monument Health’s physicians and caregivers.

“Our caregivers and physicians provide unparalleled high-quality care, even in a space that is behind the times. They take excellent care of both the children and parents, and we’re excited to provide a space that is more commensurate with their level of skill and ability,” said Hans. “They’ll turn around and use the new space to provide even better patient experiences.”

Now that plans are established and timelines are set, it’s the generosity of the community that will ultimately make the expansion a reality. That’s where the Foundation comes in. With 61 percent of children’s services written off in Fiscal Year 2020, Monument Health dedicates substantial resources to provide care, understanding that much of that cost may never be reimbursed. The majority of the cost of this multi-phase project will come from Monument Health’s budget, with the Monument Health Foundation committing $7.1 million to supplement that expense. That commitment left $4 million remaining to be raised — $1 million of which has been raised by the Foundation since the announcement, meeting their goal for 2022. But Hans, Mark, Kelsie and the team know there’s still a lot of work ahead and more donors needed to reach that goal.

“It’s going to take the community coming together to get this done,” Kelsie said.

The Foundation says they are grateful to have Hani Shafai as a co-chair of the campaign, along with Rob Mudge. Hani and Rob are helping spread the word about the expansion and serving as community advocates for the project.

“This project is critically important to our community – not only to those who live here now but to accommodate for the growth that the Black Hills region will continue to see over the next few years,” said Hani.

Phase I of the multi-phase construction on the expansion is expected to begin in fall of 2023.

For more information on the campaign or to make a donation, visit The Monument Health Foundation’s website.