After a career that started when he was in high school, Avera Flandreau hospital administrator Scott Hargens has left his position to take a job as the CEO at Select Medical in Sioux Falls.
Hargens, 35, had been with Avera for 19 years, starting in the Sioux Falls hospital’s food service area washing dishes and working at the grill while he was a student at O’Gorman High School. He rose through the ranks and most recently was the administrator for Avera in both Flandreau and Dell Rapids, where he worked for six years.
He starts in June at Select, which is a long-term acute care hospital that has about 100 employees and 24 beds. Hargens said he was recruited for the position by a college friend. Select, which is a hospital within a hospital, is located at Sanford in Sioux Falls and also works with Avera and Monument Health.
“I felt God called me to this new challenge,” he said last week before leaving Avera. Hargens takes with him a gratitude and fondness for his experiences at Avera and his work with the Sisters of the Catholic-based hospital.
In the interim until a new administrator is named, Flandreau and Dell Rapids locations will be managed by Bryan Breitling, administrator at Avera Hand County Hospital and Clinic in
Miller and a regional administrator overseeing six critical access hospitals. Flandreau and Dell Rapids are in his region.
Breitling, 52, also has filled in as an interim administrator during other vacancies in the health system and is a state senator representing District 23. He said he will be in Flandreau one day a week.
Patients shouldn’t see changes in service during the interim, Breitling said. “We’ll be very consistent from a leadership standpoint for what Avera has been providing,” he said. “We are not looking at significant changes. We have a wonderful care team, great providers.”
Avera is in the transition process, but Breitling isn’t sure when Hargens’ position will be filled. In the meantime, Breitling will have a chance to get to know people in Flandreau, especially those within the health system.
“I just look forward to working with the facility here,” he said.
For Hargens, the biggest impact on his career in Flandreau was operating a health-care system during the roughest part of the pandemic last year.
“These are things we train for every day, praying they never come to fruition,” he said.
During the year of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, deaths and finally vaccinations, Hargens credits the hospital and clinic staff for their bravery and diligence, day after day, caring for patients and keeping things going even if they were one of only a few people in a department. “I’m just proud of how the staff responded.”
At this point, staff have fully vaccinated more than 2,000 people, he said. Hargens also worked with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Clinic in trying to cover and protect the entire community.
Hargens has been involved in the Flandreau Development Corporation and helped to start Moody County Cares, an organization that focuses on mental health in the community. When he took the administrator position here, he and his wife Larissa hadn’t started their family. Now, they are parents to Henley, 4; Hewitt, 3, and Haven, 1.
Mayor Dan Sutton said Hargens has been dedicated to Flandreau and engaged in serving the community. “He’s been so great,” he said.