The will of Helen Gale McKennan left $25,000 in trust to start a new hospital in Sioux Falls. The trustees of her will became the first hospital Board of Trustees.
When the Presentation Sisters agreed to manage the hospital, work began. A block of land was purchased, plans were drawn and construction started in 1910. McKennan Hospital was finished in 1911, offering 55 patient beds and living quarters for 20 nurses and Sisters.The hospital was conveniently located on the street car line and represented the latest in modern medicine for its time. Dr. Thomas J. Billion, Sr. was the first staff president.
During the dedication ceremony on December 17, 1911, McKennan Hospital received its first emergency phone call. Dr. Gilbert Cottam performed the first surgery - an emergency appendectomy - that night.