Black Hills Woman Magazine | Designed For Health

Designed for Health
by Hannah Ruhlman

Black Hills Surgical Hospital’s approach to decor and food pleases patients.

"Am I in the right place?"

It’s a question Black Hills Surgical Hospital (BHSH) has had to answer often during the last 20 years at the hospital, located on Anamaria Dr. in Rapid City and its three sister urgent care locations on Haines Ave. and Mountain View Road in Rapid City and one on Michigan St. in Spearfish. Instead of the mundane, sterile and stark-white vibe hospitals are stereotyped to portray, BHSH and its urgent care centers are comfortable, homey and high-class.

Jonathon Michaels, Director of Marketing & Human Resources for BHSH, said the design is intended to make patients feel more at home, or maybe as if they are on a vacation at a resort, as they supply luxurious robes, heated towels, fresh flowers, and other fine touches.

“2017 will mark BH Surgical Hospital’s 20th year and our mission is now what it was then: to provide high-quality service to our patients,” said Michaels. “Quality services arne’t just in the procedures doctors perform, but in the subtle details of everything we do.”

The hospital features a wall composed of thousands of glass beads, waiting rooms include leather furniture, living plants and warm paint colors. Patient rooms are stocked with needs specific to each patient and have books, movies to watch on a flat screen television, or a comfortable roll-away bed for family members who might stay with the patient overnight. The hospital also has one of largest private art collections in the state of South Dakota.

“Although obviously pleasing to the eye, the design actually helps patients cope with the stress of illness before and after surgery, while at the same time providing calm, state of the art work environments for staff and physicians,“ said Debbie Mertes, BHSH Interior Design and Special Projects Coordinator.

“Our design concept is a reflection of the landscape and lifestyle of the beautiful Black Hills,” said Mertes. “Its intention is to reduce stress and aid in the healing process. We believe that a compassionate, aesthetically pleasing environment reduces anxiety and promotes healing.” The design isn’t the only aspect with a finer touch. The menu is like one found at a fancy restaurant and features specialties like butter-seared scallops, New York strip steak, beef rib roast, and white wine sea bass prepared by Head Chef Daniel Voorhees. Nearly all meals are prepared from scratch and from locally sourced producers. Beer and wine are also served, with specific drink pairings made for meals. “Working here has basically ruined the experience of eating out because our food is so much better,” said Michaels. It’s high praise, considering hospital food again is stereotypically not something someone would want on an evening out. But Chef Daniel, who studied culinary arts at the Culinary School of the Rockies, is happy to break that mold and prepare delicious cuisine for patients and physicians by bringing out the best in his ingredients.

“Freshness is key, so we source as much as we can locally,” said Voorhees. “It’s probably the first place in my career where so much emphasis is put on pleasing our guests and physicians. Our food is here to make people happy — to get that satisfied look once they’ve taken a bite.” The aesthetics, accomodations, and customer service has not only led to many 5-star reviews on websites and Facebook, but BHSH made the list of best hospitals in the country, said Michaels.

Although initially wowed by the decor and food, Mertes said it’s the BHSH staff that leaves the lasting mark on a patient’s experience.

“It is easy to create a beautiful hospital with carpeted hallways, beautiful artwork and comfortable furnishings,” said Mertes. “But if a hospital lacks the culture of compassion and exceptional care, along with people committed to that mission, you do not end up with a hospital ranked sixth in the nation, instead you simply have a pretty hospital.”

Hannah Ruhlman thinks maybe having surgery doesn’t sound so bad as long as she can get some butter seared scallops. Yum!

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