Organizations Join Behind ‘Mask Up South Dakota’

SIOUX FALLS/RAPID CITY (October 27, 2020) A group of organizations in South Dakota have joined to recommend and promote masking as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge throughout the state and wider region.

Behind a simple message of “Mask Up South Dakota” and a hash tag of #MaskUpSoDak, these organizations include the South Dakota State Medical Association (SDSMA), Monument Health based in Rapid City, Avera Health and Sanford Health based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota Nurses Association (SDNA), South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO), South Dakota Municipal League, South Dakota Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce, Associated School Boards of South Dakota, and School Administrators of South Dakota and the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board.

This group supports keeping South Dakota open, and the safest way to do that is to practice good hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks. This group is not seeking a mask mandate from government, but rather is calling on South Dakotans to help manage health care resources and workforce so our state’s health systems can help those who need to be hospitalized.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has affirmed that wearing masks can help communities slow the spread of COVID-19 when worn consistently and correctly by a majority of people in public settings. Masks are most effective when used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing, frequent handwashing, and cleaning and disinfecting.

According to South Dakota Department of Health data, the number of active cases, hospitalizations and deaths are increasing across the state and wider region. There are currently over 350 hospitalizations in South Dakota and over 11,000 active cases. To date, there have been 375 deaths due to the virus.

Increased cases and hospitalizations place a greater burden on health care facilities and health care workers, and is taking a toll on individuals, families and workplaces.
This group is asking South Dakota residents for a renewed and greater commitment to follow a list of preventive practices recommended by the CDC:

  • Wear a mask to cover your mouth and nose when around others.
  • Practice social distancing – put six feet of space (two arm lengths) between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
  • Practice good hand hygiene – wash hands often and use hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
  • Stay home when you’re sick or have been exposed to the virus (except to get medical care).
  • Cover your cough and sneezes.
  • Monitor your health daily and watch for symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.

In addition to the group of organizations listed above, these organizations also support this effort:

  • AARP South Dakota
  • American Cancer Society
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • Black Hills District Medical Society
  • Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas (CHAD)
  • District 7 Medical Society (Sioux falls & surrounding communities)
  • Humphreys Forum: A Collaboration of Sioux Falls Infectious Disease Physicians
  • Huron District Medical Society
  • Immunize South Dakota
  • Mitchell District Medical Society
  • Pierre District Medical Society
  • South Dakota Academy of Family Physicians
  • South Dakota Academy of Ophthalmology
  • South Dakota Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • South Dakota Chapter, American College of Emergency Physicians
  • South Dakota Chapter, American College of Physicians
  • South Dakota Chapter, American College of Surgeons
  • South Dakota Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • South Dakota Pathology Society
  • South Dakota Pharmacy Association
  • South Dakota Psychiatric Association
  • South Dakota Public Health Association
  • South Dakota Section, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • South Dakota Society of Anesthesiologists
  • Yankton District Medical Society

Behind the Scenes with Mark Burket

Part 2: National Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes

Strong-willed, unafraid, and humble come to mind when visiting with Platte Health Center Avera CEO Mark Burket about his contribution to the National Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes. He was single-handedly responsible for carrying South Dakota’s voice to the national stage to help mitigate the spread of infection during the coronavirus pandemic.


Mark Burket, CEO, Platte Health Center Avera

After receiving word that a Commission was being developed, Mark Burket decided he would update his biography (as he had not done a resume in many years) and take a chance on being part of history.  With one click of a button he officially entered the pool of individuals wanting to make a difference by participating on the Commission. Nearly three weeks later he received an email notification that he was selected and from that point forward things moved very quickly. First was an onboarding interview with members of the Mitre group technical team and selection committee that was held via Zoom, in which he received a nice compliment that they had been “staring at his biography for weeks and that it was nice to finally meet him face-to-face.” His boots on the ground, not your normal CEO biography, resonated with the selection team. 


It was not until the press release came out from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that Mark realized he was only one of twenty-five to have the honor to serve on the Commission. The twenty-five members consisted of a very diverse group of individuals including a nursing home resident, consumer advocates, nursing home owners, administrators and infectious disease experts to name a few. He recalls feeling a little intimidated that he was one with the fewest credentials behind his name, but that certainly did not scare him off.

The first Commission meeting was held in late June for four hours and was initiated by CMS administrator Seema Verma. Each member of the Commission was allowed to introduce themselves and give their background and list their experience in the long-term care industry before diving into the task at hand.  The Mitre Corporation, an organization that assists the government in research and analysis, led all the meetings and “did a terrific job of controlling and guiding each meeting” Burket stated. The agendas were very well thought out and helped to guide the discussions in a timely yet effective manner.

All Commission members were given an equal voice, only Commission members were allowed to speak, all others were only allowed to listen and informed they could not talk or ask questions. There were approximately twenty high ranking individuals listening in on the calls from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and even advisors to the President.

This was the first time the Mitre Corporation had performed such a large-scale meeting completely virtual. The company used the Zoom platform. Each agenda topic was put on a timer that was strictly adhered to. The Commission met a total of 9 times for a total of 39 hours with over 50 hours of homework/research. Mark states there was much preparation and homework to be ready for each meeting. “You didn’t want to be ’that guy’ that showed up unprepared to discuss and make recommendations for the nations response to a pandemic.”


Mark reflects, “It was reassuring to hear and see the White House briefings with President Trump speaking of items that the Commission had brought forth just days before.” Kimberly Brandt, Principal Deputy Administrator for Operations and Policy at CMS, served as the conduit between the Commission and President Trump. “No matter your political affiliation, it was exciting to hear and see all of our hard work being addressed nationally.”

One of the biggest highlights during this entire process was that a handful of the Commission members were asked to attend a White House meeting with Vice President Pence, who was designated as the nation’s lead on the coronavirus pandemic. Mark was one of seven who were invited to attend.


Upon arrival at the White House they were all tested for coronavirus, asked to wear a mask, and were not allowed to have their phones with them.  He describes the press being in the room with them and “literally screaming their questions across the room at the Vice President. You know when you hear the press all trying to get their questions in on television, it is twice as loud in person!”

In all, Burket states he was extremely honored and humbled to contribute to the Commission. Resident and Family members was the one topic in every meeting to address quality of life. There was a very strong resident advocacy throughout all meetings.

Thank you, Mark for your contribution and for representing South Dakota’s voice! SDFMC appreciates you!

Input from SDFMC Impacts National Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Home Final Report

Part 1: Drawing from Experience Leads to Many Recommendations

In preparation for serving as the Midwest representative on the National Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Homes, Mark Burket, chief executive officer of Platte Health Center, set out to gather the thoughts and perspectives of his colleagues on the daily and compounded pandemic-related issues nursing homes face. One phone call he made was to South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care’s (SDFMC’s) Lori Hintz, RN, who serves as a quality improvement advisor for nursing homes in South Dakota through the Great Plains Quality Innovation Network (GPQIN).

Continue reading “Input from SDFMC Impacts National Coronavirus Commission for Safety and Quality in Nursing Home Final Report”

SDFMC Launches Phase Two of Music & Memory

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) is proud to announce being the recipient of a contract award with the South Dakota Department of Health to implement the nationally recognized Music & Memory® program in nursing homes across our state through May 2022.

SDFMC will work with 41 nursing homes across the state to implement the Music & Memory® program into their facilities. Music and Memory is a non-profit organization that aims to use the power of music to improve cognitive and physical conditions in nursing home residents.  One significant measure of the program is to help decrease in the use of antipsychotic medications. 

Continue reading “SDFMC Launches Phase Two of Music & Memory”

Detention Leads to Juvenile Arthritis Diagnosis for 11 Year Old

Most eleven year old boys love physical education class, but Caleb Hestad refused to do his push-ups, and received both detention and a diagnosis of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA). August is Juvenile Arthritis Awareness Month and an opportunity to bring attention to the stories of children like Caleb who face the daily challenges of arthritis management and treatment.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are six different types of juvenile arthritis, depending on the number of joints affected. Caleb was diagnosed with polyarticular arthritis, which means it affects five or more joints (ankles, knees, wrists, and fingers) in his body.

Continue reading “Detention Leads to Juvenile Arthritis Diagnosis for 11 Year Old”

Despite Pressures Nursing Home Caregivers Shine

With the world pandemic of the coronavirus, the nation’s nursing homes have been experiencing the pressure of protecting their residents from isolation and infection. The close living quarters of a nursing home means a high risk of spread for this respiratory virus. The New York Times indicates that over 40% of the US coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes: a significant cause for concern for those who live in a nursing home or have a loved one residing there.

Nursing homes have taken many precautions to prevent this coronavirus from entering their facilities, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has created a toolkit featuring their innovative solutions. One of the first recommended guidelines is to restrict all visitors and volunteers and to cancel all group activities. While effective for decreasing the risk of spread, the resulting isolation may impact mental health and contribute to a decline in overall health.

Continue reading “Despite Pressures Nursing Home Caregivers Shine”

Impact of Music & Memory Spans a Decade

Elderly gentleman enjoying music on headphones

For the past ten years, Music & Memory has been using personalized music to help individuals with a wide range of cognitive and physical conditions to engage with the world, ease pain, and reclaim their humanity. 

As the national program continues to promote the power of music, they recognized the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) Music & Memory staff for implementing the program in 57 facilities across the state. 

Continue reading “Impact of Music & Memory Spans a Decade”

Thriving and Surviving Cancer Program to Expand in Western South Dakota

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) was recently awarded a South Dakota Department of Health Cancer Coalition grant focusing on the Better Choices, Better Health® (BCBH) SD Cancer: Thriving & Surviving program. 

The program will serve those with a cancer diagnosis and their caregivers residing in the designated 13-county target area of western South Dakota from January 1 through December 31, 2020.  Participants will learn ways to improve quality of life and cope with the effects of cancer treatment through tools and resources shared over a six-week course.  

Continue reading “Thriving and Surviving Cancer Program to Expand in Western South Dakota”

CMS Announces Quality Award

On November, 8, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded a five-year contract to Great Plains Quality Innovation Network to serve as a Quality Innovation Network – Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) under the recently launched 12th Statement of Work. 

QIN-QIOs serving under the 12th Statement of Work will provide targeted assistance to nursing homes and communities in small and rural areas, those serving the most vulnerable populations and those in need of customized quality improvement. Through this body of work, CMS is focusing on results, protecting taxpayer dollars, and most importantly, ensuring the safety and quality of care delivered to every beneficiary.

Continue reading “CMS Announces Quality Award”