Care Connections Best Practice Brief Series

Improving care connections provides a balance of care services and resources that improves overall health. While most individuals work to avoid the emergency department others consider it a source of primary health care. Neglecting routine and preventive care services increases the risk for health complications or crisis situations.  Overuse of emergency services places a burden on workforce and increases the cost of health care.

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care is hosting a five-part Care Connections Best Practice Briefs series to explore strategies for encouraging proper use of health care and increasing awareness of community resources. 

The Partnership to Advance Tribal Health (PATH) established an affinity group focused on addressing emergency department utilization in tribal health facilities across the nation. The group fosters a culture of open dialog to identify strengths, weaknesses, barriers, and challenges. This open communication provides the added benefits of identifying interventions and sharing best practices to improve emergency department utilization.

South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care

Nancy McDonald

Nancy McDonald RN, CPHQ
Director of Quality Improvement

Jess Danko

Jessica Danko MS, RRT, LTC-CIP
Program Manager

Naloxone (Narcan) has the power to reverse the impact of opioid overdose.  Access to this potentially life-saving option is limited across the state even as opioids continue to be routinely prescribed. Pharmacists play a valuable role for education and distribution of this life-saving medication. Josh Ohrtman, PharmD, will highlight the challenges and progress for improved screening, access, and reimbursement for a South Dakota pharmacy.

Joshua Ohrtman PharmD
Clinical Services Pharmacists and Pharmacy Consultant
Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy – Rapid City
South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC)
Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network (CPESN)

Medication assisted treatment (MAT) can ease the transition from addiction to recovery. Until recently, health care providers were required to complete a specialized waiver to provide MAT services. Experienced with in-person and telehealth MAT services, Project Recovery will highlight best practices for facilitating the road to recovery from substance use disorder.

Michaela Johnson, PharmD – Director of Pharmacy
Coteau des Prairies Health Care System

Community health workers (CHW) are rising to the top of the list of who to know in South Dakota communities. CHWs help individuals locate community resources and navigate the health care system. Creating connections relieves pressures from individuals and health care professionals.  Brookings Health System will share the benefits of incorporating CHWs for improving health and quality of life.

Alyssa Olson – Community Health Worker/Emergency Medical Technician
Brookings Health System

Many individuals with mental health issues have faced a closed door to services and instead turn to an open bottle. Whether pills or alcohol, their unmet need for mental health services may escalate into substance use disorder. Independent Health Solutions offers an open-door transitional center to help individuals cross the final threshold from treatment to recovery.

Ashley Kingdon-Reese – Owner
Independent Health Solutions

Health Care Conversation Hits Home in Chamberlain

Community members continue to make themselves heard about priority health issues at Community Conversations hosted by the South Dakota Department of Health. Facilitated by the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC), these events provide an opportunity to gather feedback on overall community health, areas of concern, and methods being used to improve health.  

“Everyone needs healthcare at some point. Conversations to drive healthcare and health equity opportunities impact everyone, including those that I care for and love,” shared Jess Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP, program manager for SDFMC and Chamberlain resident. “Being able to help share the perspectives of community members makes the work I do to improve healthcare incredibly important for my community, my family and myself.”

Jess Danko

Danko is among a group of SDFMC staff who call Chamberlain home and actively engage in improving health care in the community. Several have or continue to work part-time at the Chamberlain hospital, which serves as the closest emergency healthcare for miles. The lack of after-hours or urgent care and the long distance to a higher-level facility is a barrier Chamberlain shares with others in rural South Dakota.

Helen Eimers

“During the community conversations new ideas, thoughts, and processes were shared that sparked others to start thinking about how to solve local healthcare challenges,” Helen Eimers, BSN, RN, CCM, program manager at SDFMC explained. “This is where I live and where it is convenient to get my healthcare coverage.”

“Chain of Survival” Saves Lives in Cardiac Ready Communities

  • Early access to emergency care
  • Early CPR
  • Early defibrillation
  • Early advance medical care
  • Post-cardiac arrest care

Eide provides support and assistance for communities seeking designation. “We are working to revise the criteria to make it easier for smaller South Dakota communities. The programs help them evaluate their readiness for a cardiac event, including planning, development, CPR and AED training and AED location identification. It is important for the communities in SD to be prepared to use the “chain of survival” to manage a cardiac event.”

New Certification Enhances SDFMC Infection Prevention Expertise

Cheri Fast

Cheri Fast, RN, CIC, LTC-CIP, commented about expanding her existing expertise, “The long-term care certification is a new test specific to the long-term care environment, where some of our most vulnerable patients and loved ones reside. Certification increases our potential to reduce harm and save lives through awareness and education. The support encourages people to step up and to eliminate infection risks in their facilities.”

“We point out infection control best practices that may be inadvertently overlooked. Making slight and easy changes in daily work can reduce infection risk and improve positive outcomes,” shared Jessica Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP, program manager with Project Firstline. “Showcasing the education and training through SD PFL and assisting with ICARs allows me to use my knowledge and expertise to protect those that live in and work within the long-term care setting.”

Fast reflected on the effort required to achieve a culture of universal infection control. “We all, healthcare or not, have the power to reduce the transmission of infection in our homes and our communities. By sharing our various levels of expertise, we are making a difference.”

Making Room for More Voices in Huron

The meeting room at the Huron Public Library required more tables and chairs for those who came to make themselves heard on improving health care in the community. Hosted by the South Dakota Department of Health, the Community Conversation is the first of four events and a step toward developing a State Health Assessment and achieving Public Health Accreditation Board standards.

Stacie Fredenburg

“Health care is a personal experience,” reflected Stacie Fredenburg, who facilitated the event and serves as the director of development and outreach for the South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care.  “Health trends and rates only tell part of the story.  Bringing people together to discuss the challenges and share the great work being done at a local level will paint a clearer picture for the State Health Assessment.

The group brought up concerns related to workforce, mental health, substance use, childhood development, health literacy, and more.  They also recognized the value of existing programs such as community health workers, health care training and education programs, cultural awareness activities, and general community collaboration.

“Huron has an active and engaged network of professionals who are committed to creating a positive health impact,” Fredenburg observed. “Even as they recognized the challenges, the conversation naturally shifted to potential solutions. That is the ideal focus, and the ultimate intention as we work to create a State Health Improvement Plan.”  

Three additional Community Conversation events are being hosted in Aberdeen, Chamberlain, and Sioux Falls throughout February.  Those interested are encouraged to register on the State Health Assessment website or contact Stacie Fredenburg at (605) 607-4223.

Danko Shares Infection Prevention Expertise

With a specialized infection control certification, SDFMC Program Manager Jess Danko, MSHA, RRT, LTC-CIP, shares her expertise with those who attend. “Knowing that accurate and correct practices in infection control are being shared reassures me that my work can impact healthcare workers, their patients, and the communities they live and work in. Every month we host an office hour to cover one infection prevention topic.  Those who attend can ask questions, share best practices, and discuss opportunities and barriers in infection control practices within their facilities.”

SDFMC seeks excellence and values developing health care professionals.  The monthly office hours are evaluated to ensure attendees are learning the concepts and have a plan to put them into practice.  Providing relevant and timely topics is important and attendees encouraged to share challenges to infection control and contribute ideas for future topics.

Danko reinforced the impact, “Project Firstline education has given healthcare workers, from the environmental services crew to the providers, reminders and education on basic infection control practices and the importance of utilizing these practices every day.”

More resources and education on infection control can be found on the South Dakota Project Firstline website or on the social media channels. 

  • Twitter: @southdakotapfl
  • Facebook: @southdakotaprojectfirstline
  • Instagram: @sdprojectfirstline
  • YouTube: @southdakotaprojectfirstline

Vaccination Provides Safer More Reliable Protection

Vaccination is a proven method for preventing the spread of infectious disease. Staying current on immunizations is important at every age and reduces the risk of becoming infected or experiencing complications. The South Dakota Foundation for Medical (SDFMC), in partnership with the South Dakota Department of Health, is working with community-based and faith-based organizations to explain the value of COVID-19 vaccination and boosters.

“Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is a safer, more reliable way to build protection. COVID-19 vaccination helps protect people by creating an immune response without the potentially severe illness or post-COVID conditions that can be associated with COVID-19 infection,” explained Brad Richardson, MS, MBA, FACHA, (photo right) program manager at SDFMC.

“SDFMC continues to be engaged in promoting better health choices and options for our fellow South Dakotans by providing vaccination education, promoting health awareness, and providing our neighbors with evidence-based facts to make an informed decision as it relates to COVID vaccination.”

With over 50 years as a quality improvement organization, SDFMC has witnessed the evolution and growing selection of vaccinations for every age group. From the long-standing benefits of T-dap and tetanus to the more recent HPV and COVID, vaccination is a proven method for preventing the spread of infectious disease.

Richardson added, “Over the years, our partners have come to know that SDFMC will consistently and reliably work to improve healthcare resources for South Dakotans.”

The following posters are available for download and distribution.

  • Understanding when and why to get a vaccine booster is important. Updated vaccines protect against changing virus strains.
  • Weakened immune systems increase the risk for severe illness. Vaccination is added protection for older adults and those with chronic health conditions.

Best Practice Briefs: Reducing Health Disparities

Imagine bare cupboards, an empty gas tank, and a pile of past due bills. Pile on a chronic physical or mental health condition that requires time off work or expensive medication. Then add a language or cultural barrier. This is a daily reality for some individuals living in rural communities across the Dakotas. Connecting individuals with community resources can literally be a life saver.
Healthcare and community organizations will share how they are working together to improve quality of life by providing valuable resources and support.

  1. Identify needs through community engagement
  2. Collaborate to address basic life needs
  3. Expand awareness of language and cultural barriers

Working to Unite Huron: RECORDING
May 3, 2022, at 12:00 PM Central

  • Multiple rural communities have become home to refugees with different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and languages. These complex barriers add to the existing challenges in an already struggling working population. Leaders in Huron, SD, manage the growth and change by coming together. Learn more about the solutions and impact resulting from effective community engagement and collaboration.

Building Opportunities to Provide Patients with Healthy Food Options: RECORDING
May 10, 2022, at 12:00 PM Central

  • When money is tight, the trip to the grocery store becomes a scavenger hunt for the cheapest options. Eating well can be a key element for combating chronic disease. Community Health Center of the Black Hills and Feeding South Dakota will explain their efforts toward providing healthy food options for patients in need.

Connecting Community to Health Care: REGISTER
May 17, 2022, at 12:00 PM Central

  • Trying to understand an acute or chronic health concern can be confusing. Lacking transportation or money for prescription medication adds to the frustration. Community health representatives and community health workers serve as guides for connecting individuals with the right resources and support to achieve a positive health outcome. Focused on patient-centered care, the Community Health Worker Collaborative of South Dakota is working to expand this health professional network to reduce health disparities and improve quality of life.
  1. Describe the role of community health representatives/workers
  2. Explain the impact of health disparities for managing health
  3. Identify methods used by CHR/CHW to improve quality of life

Amanda Dunham, Community Health Worker
Melissa Nielsen, Quality Improvement Coordinator
Center for Family Medicine

Valuing Diversity at Monument Health: REGISTER
May 24, 2022, at 12:00 PM Central

  • Trust is the foundation for every strong personal and professional relationship. Earning trust begins by seeking to understand. Monument Health offers cultural awareness education programs to provide perspective and promote relationship building among those providing and receiving health care.
  1. Define and identify bias
  2. Recognize the impact bias has on decision making
  3. Build the knowledge move from awareness into action

Sandra Ogunremi, DHA, MSA, B. Pharm, CCDP, CDM, MPM, SCPM, CLC
Director, Diversity, Inclusion and Spiritual Care Services
Monument Health


Huron Plainsman Article Highlights Tobacco Video Challenge

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HURON — The Huron Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA)  club had its anti-vaping hashtag entry selected for a statewide award.

“#BeTuffDontpuff,” was the entry submitted by the Huron students, according to Mindy Heuer, the project manager for the Tobacco Disparities Grant, administered by the S.D. Foundation for Medical Care. The goal is to reduce tobacco use and vaping among youth in South Dakota.

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AVEL eCare Grief and Loss Care

AVEL eCare is recruiting facilities and organization to participate in an educational program opportunity focused on long-term care, geriatrics, and Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST).

In partnership with the South Dakota Department of Health, Avel eCare Senior Care is offering nursing home leaders, clinicians, and emergency responders the opportunity to participate in hands-on educational sessions on helping individuals document a clear plan and understanding what to ask before providing care.

Free 90-minute interactive virtual learning sessions will be held in March, April, and May to introduce tools, practice skills, and provide individualized implementation support. The sessions will also provide practical tools to recognize and support people who are grieving the suffering and death experienced in this community. 

The pandemic has been a life-changer for many, particularly those living in a nursing home or who cares for someone who lives in a nursing home. Many have not survived.  One recurring painful question that families, emergency providers and facility staff find themselves grappling with is “Is this what he/she would want” as critical decisions must be made. 

During a crisis, the weight of decision-making can be overwhelming, and this often leads to regrets and family conflict. Creating opportunities to have this conversation before a crisis is ideal. It gives people the dignity of sharing what matters most to them, provides the opportunity to ask questions, and gives peace of mind that the care interventions offered are consistent with the resident’s wishes.