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January 03, 2018 10:20 PM

Avera Clinic Helps Man Lose Pain, Gain Independence

Usually when you visit the doctor's office, all you need is for them to relieve the pain. But a KELOLAND man left with much more. Yassin Awale says his severe back pain was overcoming his life. He decided to visit the Avera Medical Group Health Care Clinic in Downtown in Sioux Falls. The people he met there not only cured his pain, but helped him overcome a major obstacle. 

Most days, you'll find Awale in the driver's seat. The Avera McKennan valet grabs your keys, and takes the wheel for patients during a visit to the doctor. Awale takes a lot of pride in his job. 

"Life is good, yeah," Awale said. 

Life wasn't so good for about two years. Awale says his back hurt so much it was debilitating. 

"It was painful. I couldn't bow. I couldn't walk for a long distance. Everything was bad," Awale said. 

The grandfather of five found Avera Medical Group Health Care Clinic Downtown.

"We fixed the cause of the pain," Dr. Jean Lageson, medical director, said. 

After a successful surgery, Awale says he's pain-free. 

"If Dr. L. didn't do that, at this time, I could've ended up paralyzed," Awale said. 

However, there was one issue that could've prevented Awale from finding relief. 

"I told them that I don't have any insurance and no job at that time," Awale said. 

Instead of turning him away, Avera connected Awale with social worker Robyn Niewenhuis. Niewenhuis helped Awale find the resources he needed to apply for and get insurance. She also found out there was a valet opening within the company, and told Awale about it. 

"She didn't hesitate to fight for me. That's it.  She's a nice person. She's a nice person," Awale said. 

This is the mission here. This Avera clinic in downtown Sioux Falls serves people who do not have insurance, medicare, or medicaid.

"We're not just here to serve their physical medical needs, we look at them as a whole person. Physically, emotionally, spiritually, and do our best to help them in all areas of their lives," Niewenhuis said. 

"We want to be in unity with the poor and have compassion and take care of people without insurance or who are poor," Lageson said. 

That doesn't mean the clinic will solve everyone's issues for them. Niewenhuis says she and her colleagues offer them support, and show them what they can do to make changes on their own. That's exactly what happened with Awale . 

"You see them gaining some independence. We informed him of the job, but he took the initiative to get that done," Niewenhuis said. 

Niewenhuis says this isn't a walk-in clinic, and patients need to schedule an appointment. If you think this clinic is a place that can meet your needs, you can do so by calling 322-6800.

Which brings us to how Awale is doing today. 

"I feel nothing. I'm free. I just run, walk, and I'm working," Awale said. 

A visit to Avera's Downtown Clinic not only fixed Yassin Awale 's back, it also gave this valet the keys to put him back in the driver's seat of his own life. 

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