Local Avantara caregiver honored with award

RAPID CITY, S.D. — After 33 years of dedication to Avantara North, Debbie Lechtenberg was recognized in an awards ceremony.

Debbie LechtenbergMayor Allender presented Debbie with the Millie E. Olson Award from the South Dakota Healthcare Association.

“It made me cry when I heard about it – that I actually feel appreciated, you know, that they recognize what I’ve done here over the years,” Debbie said. “So it made it special. Made me feel special. “

Her journey started back in 1987, and she worked nearly every position in the facility.

“I’ve done a multitude of things. I was a floor nurse when I started and I’ve done other work. I’m currently the wound-care nurse as well. I’ve done medical records…so just a lot of hats.

Debbie says that she loves her team and their excitement for her success shined through.

“They’re amazing. It’s a good teamwork atmosphere,” Debbie adds. “We work together and get the job done. So they’re good people to work with”

She says that her residents are those who truly make her smile, day after day.

“That’s what makes your day, and they make you smile every day you come to work. And so that’s why we’re here – take care of them and they take care of us too,” Debbie says. 

Her favorite memories so far? Debbie says there are too many to pick just one.

“There’s just a multitude of memories, you know. The residents just make you smile every day, and I think that’s the best memory of all. I can’t pick out one specific thing right now, but it’s basically the residents.”

Plus, it’s a family affair. All three of her daughters worked with her at some point in her career at Avantara.

“It’s been nice to have work with my kids here as well and my family has always been supportive. Sometimes reluctantly supportive, but supportive,” she says. 

Debbie added how much the award meant to her, since it came from leaders in her field, which made her feel special after giving that feeling to others for so many decades.

“You know, even this, saying thank you is a big recognition…because what they do is hard. What we do is hard work, taking care of the residents. The people that stay do it because they love to take care of the residents. A thank you – it goes a long ways.”

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