CDC Project Firstline Town Hall May 16

May 11, 2023, marks the expiration of the federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) declaration. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated the infection control recommendations for healthcare facilities. 

To support healthcare workers to understand the updated recommendations and how they may be implemented in various facilities and settings, all healthcare providers are encouraged to register and attend the Virtual Project Firstline Town Hall on May 16, 2023, at 11:30 AM Central/10:30 AM Mountain.     

“As the public health emergency comes to an end, we need to keep in mind that infection control practices will not. Education on infection control topics will always be needed. The importance infection control plays in the lives of everyone will still remain,” commented Jess Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP, program manager for South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care.

“When entering a healthcare facility, we as patients, caregivers, and visitors have been assured that infection control practices are a part of the everyday practice of care. Infection prevention and control is a priority for quality healthcare delivery and South Dakota Project Firstline offers up-to-date training opportunities across the state.” 

Jess Danko

South Dakota Project Firstline (SD PFL) provides onsite or virtual training and educational opportunities to all areas of healthcare. The training can be for a specific department in an in-person learning and sharing opportunity or it may be during a ten-minute virtual training during monthly staff meetings. SD PFL accommodates the needs of the healthcare facility and works to provide training when it is convenient for the teams and infection prevention staff. 

Cheri Fast

Cheri Fast, RN, CIC, LTC-CIP, WOCN, added, “A viral breakout that was only expected to last a few months turned the world upside down over the past three years. Even though the pandemic is officially over, we will never return to ‘normal’ as it was prior to COVID-19.” 

Learn more from CDC officials and fellow healthcare professionals, and about working together to stop the spread of infection at the Virtual Project Firstline Town Hall on May 16, 2023, at 11:30 AM Central/10:30 AM Mountain.    

We are Project Firstline

Sharing Pregnancy Milestones with First-Time Moms

Becoming pregnant is a major milestone in a person’s life. However, there are numerous mini-milestones sprinkled along the 40-week pregnancy journey. A very memorable milestone is feeling the baby move for the first time!  

The Bright Start program in South Dakota is here to help first-time mothers along their journey of pregnancy and be there to share in every milestone. Mothers can enroll in Bright Start and receive free help from registered nurses at every step of pregnancy. Every nurse works as a team with the mother to increase positive pregnancy outcomes for the expectant mother. 

How did you react to your baby’s first movements? Share with first-time moms about your physical and emotional experience of feeling your baby on the SDFMC Facebook post!

 Carol Phillips, RN, Bright Start Home Visiting Nurse, expressed,  

 “I am extremely excited about the Bright Start Program expanding to central SD. It is such a joy and privilege to share these milestones with our first-time moms-to be! I have witnessed anxiety decrease and joy and confidence increase when this journey is shared with their own personal nurse.” 

Bright Start is based on the model of the Nurse Family Partnership program established 40 years ago. It has been proven to decrease preterm births. Additionally, the results of the program are exceptional! There has been a 48% reduction in child abuse and neglect and 67% less behavioral and intellectual problems in children at age six. Furthermore, there has also been a decrease in tobacco and drug use with pregnant mothers going through the Bright Start Program.   

“I hope that our first-time mothers will want to travel this journey of pregnancy with a Bright Start Nurse at their side,” Phillips remarked.  

Visit Bright Start program website to enroll, refer someone, or learn more about the program.

Nurses Week May 6-12: Thank You to all Nurses  

It’s a special week in the medical field! May 6- 12, 2023, is Nurses Week and an opportunity to appreciate nurses who work tirelessly for their patients. South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) encourages everyone to reach out and send thanks to the nurses in their life.   

Nancy McDonald, BSN, RN, CPHQ, director of quality improvement for SDFMC declared,  

“Nurses care. They care for and about the people they serve in the clinics, hospitals, and long-term facilities throughout the state. Their perspectives and insights for improving health care systems and patient care are valued by SDFMC.”      

Nurses are valuable members of the SDFMC team. Their direct care and quality improvement expertise supports many SDFMC projects, including Bright Start and South Dakota Project Firstline.   

Bright Start provides professionally trained registered nurses to be another layer of support to financially eligible first-time mothers from pregnancy through the child’s second birthday. “We nurses provide great listening skills in an unbiased, nonjudgmental environment and building that trusting relationship with clients impacts positive health outcomes,” shared Valerie Wagner, RN, Bright Start Home Visiting Nurse. 

The nurse team from South Dakota Project Firstline provides infection prevention education and training to healthcare professionals and emergency medical services personnel across the state. “We all have the power to reduce the transmission of infection in our homes and our communities. We know we can do better and potentially reduce harm and save lives through awareness and education,” explained Cheri Fast, RN, CIC, LTC-CIP, WOCN, regarding the work of SD PFL. “The more frontline workers that have the education the greater impact we can have on improving the care and health outcomes for everyone.” 

Join the conversation and thank a nurse during Nurses Week from May 6-12 for their outstanding work and contribution to the families and communities they serve! 

A Positive Start to Motherhood

No one would be here today without a special woman in their life. Mothers play an important role in every child’s life, whether it is their first or last! They impact their child’s growth and development and set the foundation for learning. Let’s celebrate all mothers, especially first-time mothers, this coming Mother’s Day!

SDFMC Bright Start is a part of the statewide expansion of the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), which is an evidence-based home visiting model. This program aims to impact the health and lives of first-time pregnant moms of all ages in South Dakota. Bright Start provides professionally trained registered nurses to be another layer of support to this at-risk population. 

Valerie Wagner, RN, program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), has provided this evidence-based home visiting model for the past nine years. She is amazed with the increased confidence in each mother she has worked with, as they grow through this important stage of motherhood and parenting.

Wagner says,

“These moms and their babies benefit in healthier pregnancies, child development, and school readiness.”

Additionally, NFP has been around for over 40 years helping mothers with their pregnancies and navigating this new chapter of their life! In that time frame, it has expanded into 40 states and even a few international places. By using this program mothers reap endless benefits and so does their baby.

Wagner also points out,

“I would have loved having this program available when I first became a parent. We nurses provide great listening skills in an unbiased, nonjudgmental environment and building that trusting relationship with clients impacts positive health outcomes. “

That is why it is important to give the best start to parenting and positively impacting the most influential time in all their lives. The first two to three years of a child’s life set the foundation for their lives.

Do you have a parenting tip you want to share? Share your best tip for a new mom by joining the chat on the SDFMC Facebook page!

Interested in learning more about the South Dakota Bright Start Program and how it can help new mothers? Visit this link

Jess Danko Awarded 5 Year Service Award, Better Choices Better Health 

Helping others overcome the challenges of managing chronic disease provides inspiration and motivation to members and workshop leaders. Jess Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP, program manager for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) recently received a five-year recognition award as a Better Choices, Better Health (BCBH) leader.   

“Leading the BCBH programs has allowed me to see participants make drastic changes in both their physical and mental capabilities,” Danko shared. “The classes provide participants with education that aims to help them in their everyday lives. There are techniques taught during these sessions that help them to solve problems, overcome pain, learn about nutrition and more. The curriculum of the BCBH classes provides a whole scope of activities that promote wellness.”

In the past five years, Danko has led ten workshops and guided 105 participants through the six-week chronic disease self-management course. She is cross trained to lead the chronic pain series and serves as a leader for Walk With Ease and Fit and Strong, the physical activity courses. A full list of Better Choices, Better Health workshop offerings and dates is available on the website.    

Learn more or register for a workshop by visiting  

“All of the individuals that attend classes are memorable and important, however I have a few that stand out from the rest,” reflected Danko when asked about the impact of being a leader. “These individuals came to the physical activity classes and struggled to walk halfway around the gym on the first day of class. By the time the series wrapped up, they were making multiple laps around the gym and had great improvements in what they could now do outside of class in their homes and with their family and friends. The amount of progress is very rewarding to see.”   

Overall, the BCBH program has hosted over 370 classes with over 4000 South Dakotans participating in the classes, which are delivered in-person or virtually. To measure outcomes and impacts of the workshops, surveys are administered. The BCBH program uses both pre and post surveys to track the participants’ progress and satisfaction in the classes.  

Students Fight Back Against Vaping Rise 

Vaping is on the rise with youth in South Dakota. Teens and youth across the state are hopping on the trend, with little to no worry about how it is affecting them! To combat this growing issue, the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) hosted an anti-vaping hashtag and video challenge with South Dakota Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Chapters.  

Mindy Heuer

Mindy Heuer, RN, CST, SDFMC program manager, points out,  

“The increase of vaping in our youth and young adults is rising every year so, SDFMC took this opportunity to work with our high school students in South Dakota!“ 

The challenge includes a competition for a winning hashtag and a corresponding video to promote anti- vaping in youth and young adults. Rapid City Central won the hashtag competition with #SmokingYouMustBeJoking.  The participating HOSA chapters then made a video using this hashtag. The videos are uploaded to the SDFMC Facebook page and students are encouraged to like and share their videos. This is a great opportunity to involve youth and young adults in the fight against this rising issue. 

SDFMC attended the 2023 Spring SD HOSA Conference at the end of March to present the winners of the competition.  

Vaping Challenge Winners: Rapid City Central- $250 Hashtag Award- #SmokingYouMustBeJoking Chamberlain- $1000 First Place Award Harrisburg- $500 Second Place Award Milbank- $250 Most Likes and Shares Award

This is SDFMC’s third year hosting the vaping video challenge and there was great participation from the South Dakota HOSA chapters, with some chapters submitted multiple videos. The following schools participated in the 2023 challenge: Milbank, Rapid City Central, Harrisburg, Chamberlain, Highmore- Harrold, Iroquois, and Fort Pierre. The full collection of videos can be viewed on the SDFMC website.   

Watch the videos on our YouTube Channel and Facebook page!  

May 9: SDAHQ Spring Conference Offers Networking and Continuing Education

Quality improvement professionals of every level from any health care setting can benefit from the networking and training offered by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Quality (SDAHQ). With a common focus on quality improvement, the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) is actively engaged in coordinating the upcoming SDAHQ Spring Conference 2023, being held on May 9, 2023.  

Lesley Wilkinson receiving award from Stacie Fredenburg
Lesley Wilkinson receiving the 2022 SDAHQ Quality Professional of the Year award from Stacie Fredenburg during the SDAHO Fall Convention.

“SDAHQ and the spring conference provide educational opportunities specific to my work in quality improvement,” explained Lesley Wilkinson, MHA, BSN, RN, CPHQ, director of quality improvement and infection prevention for Black Hills Surgical Hospital and SDAHQ president. “I work for a small hospital so it’s helpful to have other people I can contact to ask questions or bounce off ideas.”   

SDAHQ Spring Conference 2023
May 9, 2023, from 9 AM – 3:30 PM
Hilton Garden Inn South, Sioux Falls

SDAHQ has been approved for continuing education credits from the National Association of Healthcare Quality.

Health Equity Discussion Panel
Open discussion on health equity efforts to meet Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission (TJC) requirements with experts from Sanford, Avera, and Monument.

Roadmap after Covid: Finding Joy in Work Again
International speaker Donna Wright, MS, RN, NPD-BC, uses humor and wit to share strategies for rediscovering passions and reenergizing ourselves and teams after COVID.

Lunch is included with the conference registration. Those interested in becoming a SDAHQ member can complete the application as part of the registration process and receive the discounted price.

“I have worked in quality improvement for 17 years. At this point in my career, what I hope to achieve through SDAHQ is to serve as a resource to others who are newer to quality improvement and to continue learning in this ever-changing field,” added Wilkinson.  

For more information on SDAHQ or quality improvement, reach out to Stacie Fredenburg at (605) 607-4223. 

April 18: Opening Doors to Improved Mental Health

Many individuals with mental health issues have faced closed doors and struggle to access appropriate care services. Instead, individuals may turn to an open bottle. Whether it is pills or alcohol, their unmet need for mental health care may escalate into substance use disorder.

“Understanding how behavioral health impacts medical needs reduces complications and health care costs,” explained Ashley Kingdon-Reese, MBHCA, BSN, LNC (C), chief operations officer at Angelhaus Huron. ” By building best practices to service acute mental health conditions, we can reduce nurse burnout and prevent unnecessary institutionalization.”

Angelhaus Huron offers an open-door transitional center to help individuals cross the final threshold from treatment to recovery.  Kingdon-Reese is the featured speaker for the Best Practice Briefs Opening Doors to Improved Mental Health session on April 18, 2023, at 12:00 PM Central.

Participants will learn about the challenges of maintaining mental health for individuals transitioning from substance use disorder treatment. Kingdon-Reese will describe the transitional housing and level of care offered at Angelhaus Huron and discuss ongoing efforts to expand referrals and reinforce ongoing recovery. 

Recordings and registrations are available on the Best Practice Briefs web page.
Have a best practice to share or an idea for a topic? Contact Stacie Fredenburg.

Expanding Support for Expectant Mothers 

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) provides nursing support to expand the reach and value of the program.

“I am amazed with the increased confidence in each of the moms as they grow through these important stages of pregnancy, motherhood, and parenting,” shared Valerie Wagner, RN, SDFMC Home Visiting Nurse. “These moms and their babies benefit in healthier pregnancies, child development, and school readiness.” 

Spreading the word and increasing referrals to the program is the next step for impacting lives. Professionally trained registered nurses are now available in Chamberlain, Hot Springs, Pierre, Watertown, and Winner.  SDFMC is working with clinics, hospitals, schools, community, and county agencies to create connections and develop a referral system to reach low-income, first-time mothers.  

Details for the program and access to the referral form can be found on the South Dakota Department of Health Bright Start website.  Testimonials from the site tell the story of how Bright Start is impacting lives.  

I’ve learned so much on Bright Start. It helps me sort through the advice I get from friends and family to help decide what I want to do.” 

“My nurse really listens and is open to any conversation.” 

“My nurse makes sure we get the information that fits what I want to learn.” 

“I like being on Bright Start because they try and help me be better than I thought I would be.” 

Lending a Health Care Helping Hand

Community health workers (CHW) are rising to the top of the list of who to know in South Dakota communities. But what is a CHW? A CHW is a person who helps to create connections and relieves pressures from individuals and health care professionals. CHWs help individuals locate community resources and navigate the health care system. They can be a valuable asset to any community.  

Community Health Worker and Emergency Medical Technician Alyssa Olson from the Brookings Health System points out,  

“Increasing awareness of Community Health Workers and their role in improving the health of a community is crucial in maximizing the full potential of the workforce. ” 

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) supports the Community Health Worker Collaborative’s efforts to expand this network of valuable health care professionals into health care and community organizations across the state.  Furthermore, the number of CHWs has more than doubled! 

Brookings Health System is one of the organizations who received funding to integrate a CHW into their system.  Those who attend the Best Practice Briefs session will learn how integrating CHWs reduced emergency department (ED) visits and readmissions.

“The program has facilitated establishment of primary care for a few patients who previously lacked this and improved care coordination. Increased self-sustainability, health knowledge, and confidence have been observed in patient’s enrolled in the program.” Olson concluded, “The Community Health Worker program at Brookings Health System has improved patient outcomes, thus reducing strain on the healthcare system and improving overall community health.”