Staff Directory

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

Jay, Lewis, MBA, has navigated through significant changes in the health care and political environment. As the chief executive officer for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) since 2014, he has used his healthcare quality improvement background to produce growth and impact. Jay faced the challenges of government funding and COVID-19 pandemic by exploring additional collaborations and opportunities.  He attributes the strength of SDFMC to the shared culture of teamwork and trust to drive change.

Starting at SDFMC as a controller and vice president before taking on the lead position, Jay supported staff in healthcare quality improvement projects, information services, human resources, and accounting. Additional experience includes work as an auditor for Deloitte in Omaha and RSM in Sioux Falls.

He has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of South Dakota and is a certified public accountant.  Jay and his wife, Elizabeth, live on an acreage north of Sioux Falls and enjoy spending time with their eight children.

Nancy McDonald, BSN, RN, CPHQ
Vice President

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
Medical Director

Dr. Schroeder’s Biography – Distinguished Voice for Quality Improvement

For over 35 years Dr. Stephan Schroeder was a family practice physician in Miller, South Dakota and retired from active practice in August 2015.  He currently serves as the medical director for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care and as a clinical professor in the Department of Family Practice and Community Health at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.  He is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and the American Board of Medical Quality and is also certified as a medical director for post-acute and long-term care medicine.

Special interests include quality of care measurement as well as quality improvement programs. He had the opportunity to get involved in statewide programs and taskforces involving a trauma system and the acute care of cardiac disease and stroke. He is a member of the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition and actively serves on a number of national and state-wide quality initiatives and community advisory boards.

Stacie Fredenburg, BA
Director of Operations

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 operations, Stacie will advance the mission and reinforce the values of the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) by developing a strong infrastructure to support the growth of the organization and the team members. Building on her success as the director of development and outreach and as a quality improvement advisor, Stacie strives to analyze, innovate, organize, and activate.

Prior to joining SDFMC, 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 Jacobson
Office Manager

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.

Quality Improvement

Emily Carlson, BSN, RN

Emily’s Biography – Making a positive differences in lives

Since Emily Carlson, BSN, RN, set out to be a nurse her goal has always been to make a difference in the lives of those she encounters. She is excited to make a difference in the lives of at-risk mothers, infants, and children of her community as part of SDFMC’s Bright Starts Program team. By providing hands-on education, support, and compassion, Emily helps facilitate successful pregnancies and provide flourishing environments for infants and toddlers.

Prior to joining SDFMC, Emily was an emergency room nurse and house supervisor. She has a decade of experience and expertise in caring for all patient populations in addition to working and collaborating with a variety of community and medical professionals. Her ability to take on challenging tasks and recognize the importance of education, support, and compassion will be instrumental in achieving successful outcomes in the Bright Starts Program.

Emily graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She has a vast collection of certifications which includes Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP), and Trauma Nursing Core Course (TNCC), among others.

Jessica Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP

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 is currently project manager for Maternal Child Health, specifically working with the Boys and Girls Clubs for Sexual Risk Abuse Education and Rape Prevention Education.  In addition, she will impact quality healthcare 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, CIC, LTC-CIP

Cheri’s Biography – Passionate Infection Prevention Professional

With over 30 years in health care, Cheri Fast, CIC, LTC-CIP, RN, 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).

Mindy Heuer

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.

Lori Hintz, RN, CDP, CADDCT

Lori’s Biography – Nursing Home and Community Health Champion

Lori Hintz is a licensed registered nurse with experience in both hospital and nursing home environments in a variety of areas including medical, surgical, intensive care, patient education, cardiac rehabilitation and staff development.  She has an extensive background in forming and managing a community development organization and working with people from many walks of life.   

In 2011 she became a program manager with the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care, now a partner of the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network. Her work is focused on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services task order for reducing healthcare acquired conditions in nursing homes.

She has successfully recruited 92% of South Dakota’s nursing homes to participate in the South Dakota/National Nursing Home Quality Care Collaborative.  She is a champion for improving dementia care and her efforts contributed to the 25.5% reduction of antipsychotic medication use in South Dakota’s nursing homes from 2012 to 2016. 

Lori is active in many long-term care initiatives and committees at the local, state, region and national level.  A TeamSTEPPS master trainer, Lori has also assisted with InterAct training and individualized QAPI training to nursing homes.  She facilitates the South Dakota Dementia Coalition, is the state co-convener for the Advancing Excellence National Campaign for Nursing Home Excellence.  She also serves on the South Dakota Healthcare Association’s education committee and the AveraE LTC steering committee for telecare in nursing homes.  Additionally, she is a member of the South Dakota Antibiotic Stewardship Workgroup, South Dakota Infection Control Council and the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Quality.  

Mary “Jane” Koehn, RN

Mary “Jane’s” Biography – Maternal Instinct Inspired Bright Start

Mary “Jane” Koehn, RN, made the decision to become a nurse after receiving extraordinary care during the birth of her own children. The nurses who cared for her inspired her passion for maternal child healthcare. Jane is excited about educating patients and helping them build their confidence as new parents.

Working for the Bright Start program allows Jane to embrace the potential to change the lives of at-risk pregnant moms and their children. She witnesses both short and long-term health outcomes as she educates, promotes wellness, and ensures healthcare access for her clients. The utilization of evidence-based care, motivation, and compassion allows for an impact and ensures the foundation for long-term relationships.

Before joining SDFMC, Jane worked in the hospital setting in maternal child health for over 25 years. In addition to working labor and delivery, postpartum, and newborn nursery, she routinely provided education to her colleagues and administered postpartum classes to new parents. Her vast experience also includes working on a medical/surgical floor and a nursing home, teaching basic life support (BLS), assisting with paternity affidavits, and legal entry of birth certificate data. She made an influential impact during her time serving on a policy and procedure committee.

Jane graduated from the University of South Dakota with a degree in nursing. Her certifications include basic life support (BLS) instructor, neonatal resuscitation program (NRP), and notary public.

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 Lorenz

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 Palmreuter, BA, CCP

Vicki’s Biography – Inspiring Through Outreach and Education

Vicki Palmreuter generously shares her health knowledge to motivate and inspire others through outreach and education. As a self-starter with a background in medical business development, medical marketing and community event coordination, she effectively impacts the health and wellness of others.

As a program manager for the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (QIN), Vicki’s experience as a Master Trainer Outreach Ambassador for Better Choices, Better Health South Dakota will offer valuable insights to assist health care facilities with referral processes and outcome tracking of patients struggling with diabetes and other chronic conditions.

During her time as the community health coordinator at Regional Health (now Monument Health), she led the community health needs assessment process while researching and advocating for population health principles. Vicki graduated Cum Laude from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, with a bachelor of arts in biology.

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).  

Carol Philips, RN

Carol’s Biography – Empowering and Educating Mothers

Carol’ Philips, RN, empowers, encourages, and educates mothers to improve health outcomes and quality of life. Her current role as a Bright Start Nurse Home Visitor allows Carol to utilize her skills to guide expectant and new mother through pregnancy and the challenges of parenting.

Her passion for mothers and infants has been evident in her 29-year history providing maternal and pediatric care services in a hospital inpatient setting. Her attributes have been profound for the patients she has cared for in the prenatal, labor and delivery, postpartum, newborn nursery, and pediatrics departments. She served as a childbirth educator for 16 years and became certified as an international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) in 2012. She used this expertise to spearhead a lactation program at her health care facility.    

Carol earned a nursing degree from the University of South Dakota and, along with her IBCLC, is certified in advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS), basic life support (BLS), neonatal resuscitation program (NRP), and trauma nursing core course (TNCC).   

Stephanie Powers  MPA

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.  

Brad Richardson, MS, MBA, FACHA

Brad’s Biography – A Journey of Continuous Accomplishments

With over 40 years of health care and leadership experience, Brad Richardson’s career reflects a journey of continuous accomplishment resulting an every-increasing opportunities to oversee dynamic and challenging assignments. As a program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), Brad puts his expertise to use supporting the development of a sustainable infrastructure for South Dakota’s Point of Dispensing sites. He also provides vaccination support to community-based and faith-based organizations.

Prior to joining SDFMC, Brad was the superintendent of the Michael J. Fitzmaurice South Dakota Veterans Home in Hot Springs, SD. During his tenure, he effectively led extensive campus renovation projects and partnered with key stakeholders to implement clinical pilot projects to address workforce shortages. Under his guidance, the facility grew from a two-star to a five-star facility and became one of the first to meet the South Dakota quality Improvement Network’s platinum award level for patient care.

Brad spent 32 years in the Army Medical Service Corps and held multiple healthcare command and leadership positions. He worked in administrative services for dental and veterinary clinics, taught at U.S. medical healthcare academy, and worked within the human resources division in small hospitals and in the military’s largest medical centers around the world. He is a fellow in the American College of Healthcare Administrators.

Prior to retiring from the U.S. Army, Brad supported medical units while deployed to Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom and led the Regional Training Site – Medical (RTS-Med). The RTS-Med supported 18 central states with pre and post deployment medical training for over 10,000 medical personnel within seven different medical platforms. One of Brad’s greatest accomplishment at RTS-Med was a medical simulation and education center to improve basic and advanced medical skills.

Renee Robbins, RRT, RPFT

Renee’s Biography – Desire to Help Others Leads to Career Change

Renee Robbins, BHSc, RRT, RPFT, began a career in healthcare to help others and support her community. Coming from 15 years in the finance industry, Renee easily transferred her valuable leadership and relationship building skills to the healthcare industry. Starting as a respiratory therapist, her belief in education to empower people to take an active role in their health care led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in health sciences.

As a program manager at the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), Renee supports the efforts to build a sustainable infrastructure for the South Dakota Point of Dispensing sites. Prior to joining SDFMC, Renee worked at the Sioux Falls Veteran Administration and provided care to veterans throughout the region. This move was on the heels of branch manager and clinician position with Northwest Respiratory Services in Canton, SD, where she served over four hundred veterans and thirty-seven nursing homes.

Before moving to eastern South Dakota, Renee was a respiratory therapist at Monument Health in Rapid City and facilitated the Pulmonary Rehab program and the Pulmonary Function Lab. She provided patient education and care and completed the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) accreditation for the facility. She was instrumental in igniting an active support group for individuals with respiratory issues and enhanced the community reach by partnering with durable medical equipment companies.

While working fulltime in the healthcare industry, Renee graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science from the University of South Dakota. In similar fashion, she graduated with high honors from the South Dakota State University respiratory care program and is credentialed as a registered respiratory therapist (RRT) and registered pulmonary function technologist (RFPT). She is also certified as an educator for chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) pulmonary disease.

Cindy Schuch, MS, RN, CPHQ

Cindy’s Biography – Vast Experience Contributes to Nursing Career

Cindy Schuch has capitalized on the vast varieties of nursing positions throughout her 30+ years in the nursing profession. She believes that the experience of each opportunity builds on another to provide the best high quality care for a person, whether at the bedside or building systems or resources that deliver or support care. 

Cindy thrives on building and improving systems that help the client and those that serve the client. Her attention to detail and building processes are integral to her role as a program manager and quality improvement advisor.  

Prior to joining SDFMC, Cindy held a variety of positions within Sanford Health. Her clinical foundation began in the cardiac realm in the hospital and the clinic. After she obtained her master’s degree, she was an RN Administrator for an assisted living. The world of Quality and Accreditation drew her back to the Sanford System where she spent 8 years which supported the entire scope of services in quality improvement, regulations and accreditation. She took this knowledge and experience globally when she worked with Sanford World Clinic, especially in the clinics of Ghana where she led the team to achieve SafeCare certification, one of few in their country, as well as built standards of practice for several service lines in those clinics.  

One of Cindy’s passions is serving the underserved which fit well in Ghana. She also has led short-term mission trips to Haiti and an Indian Reservation.  

Cindy graduated from South Dakota State University with her degree in nursing. She subsequently achieved her Master of Science degree in Administrative Studies (MSAS) with a Healthcare Focus from the University of South Dakota. She also is a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ).  

Rebecca Sime, RN

Rebecca Sime, RN

Rebecca’s Biography – Paving the Way for Infection Prevention Education

Building bridges, literally and figuratively, paved the way for Rebecca Sime, RN, to become a program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC). Her journey from civil engineering to registered nurse has given Sime a unique perspective and skill set in both project management and quality improvement.

As a program manager on the South Dakota Project Firstline (SD PFL) team, Sime will focus on providing relevant infection prevention and control training to health care workers in every setting and at every skill level. While serving on the frontlines during the worldwide pandemic she became passionate about the need to get infection prevention and control education into the forefront of healthcare systems.

She feels education, collaboration, strong working relationships, and planning lead to success. This belief has led her to help others through serving as a charge nurse, nurse trainer, working with staff development, onboarding of new employees, working with students as well as serving on councils, advisory boards and working with leadership groups.

Proper training prepares health care workers for an infectious disease outbreak or other emergency. Selected by her local government to establish an operational disaster command center, Sime has additional emergency preparedness experience to complement the SD PFL mission.

Originally earning a degree in civil engineering, Sime added an Associate of Science in nursing from the University of South Dakota and quickly gained knowledge and expertise in long term care, critical access hospitals, the emergency department, dialysis, and the operating room.

Destiney Storms, LPN

Destiney’s Biography – Collaborating for Education

Destiney Storms’ eagerness to learn and ability to work well collaboratively has given her the ample opportunities to grow in her career.  Educating others on health and wellness has always been a passion and her decade of experience working as a clinical nurse in various settings and roles will be an asset to SDFMC’s Bright Start team.  

During her professional career, Destiney has had the opportunity to work with different providers in the clinic setting, become a super user for the electronic medical record, and serve as lead nurse. These experiences led her to accept a new role to help nurses and providers navigate and document in the electronic medical record (EMR) and play a key role during the implementation of a new EMR.   

Destiney obtained her LPN license through Southeast Technical Institute.  

Valerie Wagner, BSN, RN-PHN

Valerie’s Biography – Amazing Communicator and Listener

Valerie Wagner, BSN, RN-PHN, is a people person and an amazing communicator and listener. Valerie became a nurse to care for people and help them find the best version of themselves.  Working alongside people has great benefits and makes an impact on the individual, the family, and the community.

As a nurse home visitor with the Bright Start program, Valerie establishes a trusting relationship with her clients professionally. Before joining Bright Start, Valerie was a nurse home visitor for Supporting Hands Nurse-Family Partnership in southwest Minnesota. She has over two decades of experience in rural hospital settings, including medical/surgical, emergency room, and labor and delivery, Public Health nursing involving Maternal Child Health, and School nursing, Long-Term Care involving assessments and care planning. She was also a valued part of the leadership health care team.

She attended South Dakota State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. She is licensed in South Dakota and Minnesota with a certification in public health nursing and currently attending Western Governor’s University to earn a master’s degree in nursing education.

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.

Tiffany Weidner, BA, CAC

Tiffany’s Biography – Advocate for Substance Use and Addiction Services

Tiffany Weidner, BA, CAC, is a member of the SDFMC Medicaid case review team and focuses on high intensity referrals for adults, pregnant and parenting women, intensive methamphetamine treatment, and adolescent substance use psychiatric residential treatment.  

Tiffany has been a certified addiction counselor for over a decade and has experience working with adolescents, young adults, and adults. She has experience working in a community agency providing direct care as well as administrative experience. Tiffany wanted to expand her career and accepted a position with the Division of Behavioral Health traveling to accredited agencies across the state conducting reviews.

She has experience researching and implementing programs and was an integral part of inputting and providing accurate data to track program outcomes. Her level of program implementation included supporting juveniles involved with or at risk of being involved with the justice system, individuals receiving mental health and substance use services. She also researched peer support services and intensive case management programs and communicated with other states on how to implement this program.

Tiffany graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University with a bachelor’s degree in human services and psychology with an emphasis in addiction studies.  She is also a certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor. 

Tina Welbig BSN RN CCM

Tina Welbig, BSN, RN, CCM, PMH-BC

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.