A vast array of healthcare expertise can be found among the SDFMC staff. Using a team-based approach allows for broader perspective and insight across healthcare settings and systems to further advance the mission.
Jay Lewis, MBA, CPA
Chief Executive Officer
Jay’s Biography – Leading Through Change
As the Chief Executive Officer of the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), Jay Lewis has nearly 20 years of experience with healthcare quality improvement. Throughout his career, he has navigated through significant changes in the health care and political environment.
He was instrumental in guiding SDFMC’s successful transition from the South Dakota Quality Improvement Organization to a four-state partnership with the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network in 2014. Impacted by government shut down and COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, Jay continues to navigate change by exploring additional collaboration and partnerships.
Jay has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota and is a certified public accountant. Before coming to work for SDFMC, Jay worked as an auditor for Deloitte in Omaha and RSM in Sioux Falls. Jay and his wife, Elizabeth, live on an acreage north of Sioux Falls and enjoy spending time with their seven children.
Nancy McDonald, RN, BSN, CPHQ
Director of Quality Improvement
Nancy’s Biography – Quality Experience in all Healthcare Settings
Nancy McDonald brings a plethora of knowledge on quality and process improvement to her program manager role. She assisted with and was instrumental in the superior success of the HEN 2.0 in South Dakota and has a passion for quality improvement and reduction in patient harm.
Nancy was the lead on the 11th Scope of Work Healthcare Associated Infection project and served as project coordinator for the Indian Health Service Special Innovation Project which emphasized redesign of the quality reporting program.
She is familiar with all hospitals in the state with expertise related to inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS), critical access hospitals (CAH), ambulatory surgery centers (ASC), Indian Health Service and inpatient psych facilities.
Her vast experience in the small, rural, critical access hospital arena ranges from hospital nurse in all areas to the many hats of a Quality Coordinator including Privacy Officer, Risk Manager/Safety Officer and Compliance. She also managed a Health Information Management Department during transition to Provider-Based Billing and assisted in preparation for ICD-10.
An active member of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Quality, she has served in multiple roles including president and secretary/treasurer and was selected as the Quality Coordinator of the Year in 2015. Her leadership and passion are clearly seen in her energetic, value-based drive for quality improvement.
Nancy holds a bachelor’s of science with a major in nursing from South Dakota State University. She is a certified professional in healthcare quality (CPHQ) and a Master Trainer in Team STEPPS.
Stephan Schroeder, MD, CMD, CMQ
Dr. Schroeder’s Biography – Distinguished Voice for Quality Improvement
Stacie Fredenburg, BA
Director of Development and Outreach
Stacie’s Biography – Uniting Around a Common Goal
Promoting and improving primary and preventive health care access and services in medically underserved areas has been a focus throughout Stacie Fredenburg’s career. Utilizing her background in communications, she strives to build relationships, increase awareness, and unite those with a shared vision to achieve a common goal.
As the director of development and outreach, Stacie will advance the mission and reinforce the values of the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, both internally and externally. Actively participating in statewide professional and collaborative initiatives will provide insights to the needs and priorities for improving the quality of life for South Dakotans.
Previously serving as a quality improvement advisor as part of the Great Plains Quality Innovation team, Stacie was instrumental in engaging four community coalitions around the five priority goals. An active member and leader of coalition and task groups, she initiated a variety of innovative education and quality improvement initiatives to increase awareness and improve positive outcomes.
Prior to joining the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, Fredenburg served as a health systems manager in primary care for the American Cancer Society after spending the bulk of her career as the communication manager for the Community Healthcare Association of the Dakotas (CHAD).
As a graduate of the University of Sioux Falls, she received her bachelor of arts in mass communications and has completed a variety of additional intensive training on topics including consultative sales, evidence-based public health, health information technology, quality improvement, project management, and practice facilitation.
Stephanie’s Biography – Enjoys a Challenge
Healthcare has changed significantly in the 40 years Stephanie Jacobson has worked for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC). Having spent the majority of her working career at SDFMC, she has learned to easily adapt and enjoys the challenges of working with and providing support to all staff members.
Stephanie manages day-to-day office functions in administration, human resources, and accounting while advancing the company goals and objectives. She has a knack for proofreading and enjoys working with co-workers to ensure all documents and correspondence represent SDFMC as professionally as possible. She is responsible for attending Board of Director meetings and other committee meeting, as appropriate, to record minutes.
In addition to managing the office operations, Stephanie supports the SDFMC contract with the South Dakota Department of Social Services by working with appropriate staff to execute diagnosis-related group (DRG) notices, to assist in processing Medicaid appeal notices, and to handle the management of medical records received in-house.
SDFMC Program Managers
Each program manager engages in a variety of collaborative efforts and grant projects focusing on healthcare quality. Their ability to engage with a broad range of stakeholders and healthcare organizations provides a unique perspective as well as the continuous opportunity to expand and enhance their skill set.
Jessica Danko, MSHA, RRT
Jessica’s Biography – Perspective on the Future of Healthcare
Jessica Danko’s experience working on the frontlines through a worldwide pandemic provided her with a vast ability to relate and deliver needed perspectives to move into the future of healthcare. With a wealth of knowledge in respiratory care and healthcare management, her systemic approach to quality healthcare initiatives and delivery were valuable in her work with COVID-19 preparedness, patient care, employee engagement, treatment delivery, and infection prevention.
Her passion for motivating individuals to better their overall health through exercise and educational programs led Jessica to become a leader for evidence-based self-management programs, including Better Choices, Better Health Chronic Disease Self-Management and Pain Management workshops and the fall prevention options of Fit and Strong and Walk with Ease.
A 2014 graduate of Dakota State University’s Respiratory Care Program, Jessica expanded her knowledge in multiple dimensions of Allied Health by obtaining a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in 2016. She went on to earn a Master of Science in Administration with focused specialties in Healthcare and Long-Term Care Administration in 2021.
Diane Eide, BSN, RN
Diane’s Biography – Values Team-Based Care and Health Education
Having worked in cardiac critical care for the last 20 years, Diane Eide understands the value of team-based care and effective communications among family members and healthcare professionals. During her time at the Avera Heart Hospital, she coordinated staff, provided conscious sedation, and used critical care skills during emergency situations and for scheduled procedures. In addition, Diane worked in the urgent care setting providing care and education to individuals seeking health care services.
Ending the stigma of addiction is also important to her, and she has a passion for substance use disorder education and prevention. Diane will continue to impact quality healthcare at the South Dakota Foundation for Medicare Care through education and technical assistance as a member of the Project First Line and the South Dakota Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention program teams.
As a graduate of South Dakota State University, Diane has a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She has also maintained certification in basic life support (BLS) and advanced cardiac life support (ACLS).
Helen Eimers, BSN, RN, CCM
Helen’s Biography – Eager to Learn and Teach
Eager to learn and teach, Helen Eimers, BSN, RN, CCM, has developed expertise in clinical and non-traditional nursing. She is passionate about preventative health and specializes in health, wellness, and life coaching. Utilizing her expertise and communication skills, she specializes in speaking on local and national stages. She has prepared presentations and training topics and taught many healthcare workers and community members.
She has served as a nurse trainer in her past roles and developed staff training and onboarding programs. She was an integral super trainer when Sanford health initiated their very first electronic medical record. Helen has experience teaching CPR classes as well as offering lactation counseling and new parent classes. She teaches local yoga and paddleboard yoga classes and encourages her patients and all individuals to live happier, healthier lives.
She has experience within the Sanford Hospital System, Indian Health Service, and as a medical case manager specializing in federal workers’ compensation. She has been a registered nurse since 2008 and obtained her Bachelor of Nursing degree in 2013.
Cheri Fast, RN, WOCN
Cheri’s Biography – Passionate Infection Prevention Professional
With over 30 years in health care, Cheri Fast, RN, WOCN, is a creative and passionate nurse. She has worked with facilities, healthcare providers, community leaders, and patients on multiple healthcare initiatives including antibiotic stewardship throughout her career. She is currently leading the Project Firstline Initiative in South Dakota. Project Firstline is a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infection prevention and awareness project to educate front line workers on basic infection control practices.
Cheri played a pivotal role in the development of a national Home Health Infection Prevention Toolkit and was selected to serve as a technical reviewer for the national organization. Her love for wound care led her to pursue her certification in Wound, Ostomy, and Continence and implemented a wound program at a critical access hospital. She has taught numerous diabetes education classes over the years and is currently a Master Trainer for Better Choices, Better Health in Diabetes, Chronic Disease Management, and Pain.
Throughout her career, she has worked closely with patients, families, physicians and community members. Working as an Intensive Field Case Manager she was able to learn about complex medical conditions, and finding community resources in South Dakota and doing Utilization Review. This led her to become certified in Nursing Case Management. Cheri was selected to participate in the AgriSafe Nurse Scholar program and completed this training in December 2019 and was selected by AgriSafe to become South Dakota’s Total Farmer Health Coach promoting health and wellness to South Dakota agriculture producers.
Most recently, Cheri was the Quality Risk Manger and Infection Control Nurse for a local critical access hospital. She is anxious to work with facilities and front-line healthcare workers on infection prevention measures to keep us all safe.
Stephanie Hanson, BSN, RN
Stephanie’s Biography – Building Relationships to Achieve Goals
Passionate about preventive health and caring for others, Stephanie Hanson, BSN, RN, has over 30 years of experience as a registered nurse in a critical intensive care unit, labor and delivery unit, and outpatient anesthesia pain center. Relationships among staff and patients are important to her. Working as a quality improvement advisor with the Great Plains Quality Innovation team, Stephanie will continue to make a make a difference in people’s health and wellbeing through collaboration and community engagement.
As the clinical care coordinator, Stephanie created a safe and effective work environment by building strong relationships and using effective communication strategies. She strives to help others achieve their goals and taught preventive health methods to individuals receiving care. In addition to bedside nursing, Stephanie contributed to the management of the Sanford Hospital outpatient clinic and helped to start a pain pump program. She also coordinated the care of patients with spinal cord stimulators in her clinic.
Stephanie received her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD, and is certified in Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS).
Lori Hintz, RN, CDP, CADDCT
Lori’s Biography – Nursing Home and Community Health Champion
Mindy Heuer, RN, CST
Mindy’s Biography – A Voice for the Patient and Quality Care Advocate
Drawing from personal and professional experience, Mindy Heuer speaks out for quality, patient-centered health care. She recognizes the value of using data to determine high-impact quality improvement efforts to create system efficiencies and improve patient experience.
Working within the Avera system, Mindy was exposed to a broad range of care situations including emergency room, intensive care unit, medical/surgical floor, operating room, post anesthesia care unit, and long-term care.
She has successful completed course work to be recognized in the areas of Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS), Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), and Just Culture. Her additional background with the Abbott House, a psychiatric residential treatment facility, provided valuable insights related to behavioral and mental health issues.
Mindy completed her surgical technology degree from Southeast Technical Institute in 2003 and went on the receive her surgical technology certification in 2012. She added her nursing degree from the University of South Dakota in 2017.
Charlotte Hofer, MA
Charlotte’s Biography – Proven Track Record for Media and Communications
With 20 awards to her credit, Charlotte Hofer has a proven track record in media relations and communications. Before launching a monthly business magazine as an entrepreneur, she received national recognition from the American Cancer Society for a media strategy that produced a 205% enrollment return for the Cancer Prevention Study-3. Charlotte has three Silver Microphone awards and has worked as a professional voice-over talent for the US Military, Seinfeld TV series, and Westin Hotels Worldwide.
She has presented national workshops on communications for Columbia University, the Native American Journalists Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Charlotte has a master’s degree in Instructional Systems from the University of Central Florida.
In her spare time, Charlotte is a private investor in real estate with a multi-state portfolio of rental properties. She enjoys writing and is the author of Courage to Fly, an inspirational book for entrepreneurs.
Denise Kolba, RN
Denise’s Biography – A Champion in Population Health Improvement
Denise Kolba has been a champion in the area of population health improvement within the state of South Dakota, leading and participating in many population-focused quality improvement initiatives.
As program manager and regional task lead for Every Diabetic Counts, Denise works with stakeholders to improve clinical outcomes for Medicare consumers diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. As a Community Engagement Advocate for the Partnership to Advance tribal Health (PATH), She collaborates with tribal leaders to identify community health needs and helps to plan and implement evidence-based community programming.
Her role includes collaborating with providers, health systems, health agencies and various chronic disease coalitions to promote monitoring of key clinical indicators and to encourage participation in self-management education. Denise has been trained as a Master Trainer with Stanford’s Chronic Disease, Diabetes, and Chronic Pain Self-Management Programs and is promoting and facilitating Better Choices Better Health workshops in South Dakota.
In addition, she led state efforts on the Colorectal Cancer Special Innovation Project by providing technical assistance for tracking colorectal cancer screening outcomes and implementing evidence-based interventions to improve colorectal cancer screening rates.
She previously served as director of health partnerships at American Cancer Society focusing on prevention and early detection while engaging stakeholders and state-wide coalitions to decrease the cancer burden in South Dakota.
Denise received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in nursing from South Dakota State University and her clinical background is in child and family nursing.
Luke’s Biography – Seeing the Larger Picture of Healthcare Technology
Luke Lorenz has always been a people person and brings a wide variety of experience and skill as a program manager for SDMFC. With an eclectic side and having studied across various interests, Luke sees the larger picture and enjoys the challenge of identifying goals, collaborating, and overcoming obstacles.
With stellar project management skills and strengths in communication, process improvement, team building, documentation, and training, Luke’s unique and extensive background will be an asset for advancing healthcare through technology: a tool that can do so much to improve response times, accuracy, and quality of care.
Getting his start at Southeast Technical Institute in 2006, he’s collected over 15 years of experience in the information technology industry working in higher education, banking, insurance, and healthcare. As a systems analyst II, he implemented medical record indexing software in major hospital systems from Seattle to San Antonio.
Working on various implementation teams inspired him to consider a career path as a project manager; and after spending 2021 traveling the western USA, he’s come back refreshed and ready to build relationships and improve the quality of life for all South Dakotans.
Vicki’s Biography – Inspiring Through Outreach and Education
Amy Paulson, RN
Amy’s Biography – Establishing Rapport and Community Connections
Establishing rapport is key to effective communication and educational growth. As a Bright Start Program Manager, Amy Paulson, RN, is eager to reach those at risk in her community, to ensure successful pregnancy outcomes, and to establish a nurturing environment for infants and toddlers. Through connections, we can overcome obstacles which will allow preparation for the future.
Collaboration with community resources, healthcare partnerships, and medical professionals is vital to provide professional growth, patient-centered care, and continuous quality improvement.
Prior to joining South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, Amy was a clinic nurse at Access Health OB/GYN. She has a decade of nursing expertise establishing positive patient outcomes from prenatal, postpartum, pediatric, home health, as well as transcultural experiences.
A graduate of Augustana University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in nursing, she is certified in Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS). She is also educated in Response Ability Pathways (RAP).
Stephanie Popowski-Dahl, RN, CADDCT, CDP
Stephanie’s Biography – Education is the Heartbeat of Excellent Care
Stephanie Popowski-Dahl, RN, CADDCT, CDP, has always felt education is the heartbeat of providing excellent care. As a program manager, Stephanie will join the Project Firstline efforts to provide infection control education and improve quality of care in every South Dakota community and health care setting.
As a dedicated healthcare professional, Stephanie has more than 19 years of comprehensive, hands-on experience in the hospital, clinic, and long-term care settings. She is a highly organized leader and accustomed to taking on challenging tasks.
As the director of staff development for Jenkins Living Center, she developed and implemented onboarding programs for new staff and online in-service education and one-to-one time on the clinical units for existing staff. In addition, she served as the Chair to the Safety Committee, was an active member of the Fall Prevention, Quality of Life, and QAPI committees, and provided CNA certification/Medication Aide testing through the South Dakota Board of Nursing.
Stephanie also worked at Sanford Clinic with a busy obstetrician/gynecologist and educated patients prior, during, and after their pregnancy experience. She delivered top-notch care by establishing rapport to encourage personal comfort.
In addition to completing her nursing education at the University of South Dakota, Stephanie is a Certified Dementia Practitioner through the Alzheimer’s Association.
Stephanie Powers, MPA
Stephanie’s Biography – Building Partnerships for Creative Solutions
Stephanie Power’s diverse background includes working in healthcare, higher education, and the non-profit sector. She has more than a decade of leadership experience in program development, grants, marketing, and communication.
Stephanie understands the value of collaboration and working with stakeholders to gather support for programs and future growth. Her passion for problem-solving and project management are strengthened by her ability to build new partnerships and identify innovative ways of utilizing and combining resources. She likes the challenge of bringing new ideas to fruition and has led several large projects that designed customized approaches for organizational and community needs.
Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family and planning her next travel adventure.
Susan Wilcox, RN
Susan’s Biography – Active Advocate and Collaborator
After 42 years working for the State of South Dakota, Susan Wilcox, RN, retired for six weeks before her desire to continue impacting medical and behavioral health led her to join the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care. As a quality improvement advisor, Susan works with the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network team to support healthcare quality in long-term care facilities.
Her most recent position as director of nursing at the Michael J Fitzmaurice Veterans Home in Hot Springs, SD, allowed Susan to improve mental health services for veterans, assist in planning a new building, and collaborate with state and federal agencies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Willingly sharing best practices, policies, and procedures with other healthcare facilities across the state, Susan was recognized for her expertise in following up-to-the-minute infection control practices and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services guidance.
In addition, Susan spent 27 years providing medical and behavioral health services to individuals with developmental disabilities at the South Dakota Developmental Center (SDDC) in Redfield, SD. Her time at SDDC provided the opportunity to earn her associate degree in nursing from Presentation College in Aberdeen. This experience led her to advocate for utilization of the Build Dakota Scholarship Program through Western Dakota Tech to increase the number of licensed practical nurses at Hot Springs.
Medicaid Case Review
Beth Grocott, RN
Beth’s Biography – Digging Deeper for Quality Care
Beth Grocott expected to focus on hands-on care when she became a registered nurse. As her desire to provide high-quality patient care expanded, she embraced the need to dig deeper into the full scope of regulations, resources and services.
As the program manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN), Beth will use her attention to detail, organizational skills and efficiency to advance population health and quality improvement efforts in South Dakota.
Prior to joining Great Plains QIN, Beth served as a nurse consultant for the South Dakota Department of Social Services. She has over a decade of experience as a registered nurse including implementing and streamlining care management as part of a health care team.
She attended South Dakota State University and graduated from the University of South Dakota with an Associate of Science in Nursing.
Dawn Hahn, RN-BC, CMCN, CARN
Dawn’s Biography – Advocate for Psychiatric and Chemical Dependency Care
Psychiatric disorders impacts every age group, and Dawn Hahn, RN-BC, CMCN, CARN, has spent decades helping every person obtain the appropriate level of care and support. Dawn performs pre-authorizations and continued-stay reviews for clients admitted into acute care psychiatric units for South Dakota Medicaid. She collaborates with psychiatrists to develop criteria, provide case management, and conduct utilization review for the Psychiatric Residential Treatment Programs in South Dakota . She also provides utilization review activities for adolescents needing inpatient chemical dependency treatment. Her goal is to provide authorization for the right client in the right facility at the right level of care.
Her work to advance psychiatric and mental health nursing includes performing Item Writing activities and writing certification test questions with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). She also chaired the ANCC Content Expert Panel in Nursing Case Management for eight years, working diligently to improve the competency-based examination that provides a valid assessment of the clinical knowledge and skills of nurses providing case management services.
Dawn holds certifications in nursing case management, psychiatric and mental health nursing, addictions nursing, and managed care nursing. To keep up with the latest advancements in the industry, she maintains close ties with the American Nurses Association, American Psychiatric Nurses Association, American Association of Managed Care Nursing and the International Nurses Society on Addictions.
Holly Verschelde, CPC
Holly’s Biography – Strong Team Attitude and Love for Learning
The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care has benefited from Holly Verschelde’s strong team attitude and aptitude for learning for over 20 years. As the coding specialist, her job duties include analyzing coding determinations and processed billing claim charges, assisting with the process of all Medicaid appeal notices as well as executing and reporting Medicare severity diagnosis-related groups (MS-DRG) notices while maintaining proper medical records management.
A certified coder with experience supporting case review for a quality improvement organization (QIO), Holly is proficient in international classification of disease (ICD) clinical modification (CM) code sets including ICD 9-CM, ICD-10-CM and ICD-10- procedure coding system (PCS) as well as MS-DRG validation with South Dakota Medicaid. She manages the day-to-day responsibilities unique to other cooperative projects and has experience in all general office and administrative functions.
She earned an associate degree for executive secretary in 1990 and added an associate degree in office technology and her certified professional coder (CPC) credential in 2007. She is a member of the American Academy of Professional Coders – Sioux Falls SD Local Chapter.
Tina Welbig, BSN, RN, CCM
Tina’s Biography – Passion for Right Care, Right Setting, Right Time
Tina Welbig has a passion for helping patients get the right care, in the right setting at the right time. This passion shows as she providers utilization review for adults needing inpatient chemical dependency treatment. Her experience includes clinical care and nursing home care as well as work on the insurance side of health care.
Prior to joining the SDFMC staff, she served as a certified complex case manager at Health Management Partner, and worked with patients, families, and physicians to coordinate care and teach on disease processes. While there, she successfully revamped the pain program to focus on avoiding surgery by assessing patient needs related to pain management education at home.
She also led the pharmacy program and identified medication recalls and errors, provided opioid review, and ensured timely medication by streamlining communication between providers, patients, and pharmacies.
Tina graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. She is a certified case manager, certified lifestyle coach and is currently pursuing her certification for psychiatric nursing.
Nicole Wilson, RN-BC, CCM
Nicole’s Biography – Serving the Mental Health Population
Nicole Wilson, RN-BC, CCM, is fascinated by the biology of the brain and the disorders resulting from the impact of genetics, environment, medications, and substance use. As a program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, Nicole can focus on her passion and finds serving this population to be very rewarding. Individuals with mental health disorders and chemical dependency issues comprise the most vulnerable population with the greatest lack of resources.
With more than a decade of mental health nursing experience, Nicole uses her experience to review chemical dependency treatment referrals for individuals meeting criteria for funding assistance. Following evidence-based guidelines, combined with clinical experience, she works closely with both the referring agencies and treatment facilities to ensure clients receive support and resources at the most appropriate level of care. In addition, Nicole collaborates with hospital staff to provide preauthorization and concurrent reviews for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations.
Prior to joining the SDFMC team, Nicole worked in a variety of mental health settings, including inpatient at Avera Behavioral Health Center, outpatient at University Psychiatry & Associates, psychiatric telehealth at eCARE. She gained perspective from the insurance side while doing mental health/chemical dependency case management and utilization review at Health Management Partners. The diverse background of experience has provided a broader perspective of mental illness and has strengthened her belief in the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, recognition of the mind-body connection, and treatment for the whole person.
Nicole received her nursing degree from the University of South Dakota. She is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse as well as a certified case manager and is currently working towards a certification in addictions nursing.