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WEBSITE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Secretary of Health
South Dakota Department of Health

 

125 Years of Health in South Dakota - Milestones

Fellow South Dakotans,

     As we celebrate the 125th year of statehood for South Dakota, it is important to reflect on those individuals who, through the decades, have helped make this a great state. At the Department of Health we are particularly interested in noting those who have played key roles in advancing the health of the citizens of our state. In the coming weeks we will be featuring some of those individuals on this site along with key health-related milestones. Any such listings will inevitably be incomplete but it is our hope that these brief snapshots will introduce South Dakotans to some of the health pioneers whose efforts have helped create the quality of life we enjoy today.

Doneen Hollingsworth

Secretary of Health
February 2014

 

1932

  • The State health offices which were previously located in Waubay, were moved to the Capitol Annex in Pierre.

1933

  • The State Health Officers Association was formed to promote public health activities in the state.

1934

  • The Child Health Nursing program, financed by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, was established to place one nurse in each county and one nurse in every town over 2,500 people for a total of eighty-nine nurses.

medical students taking blood pressure

1935

  • The State Committee on Water Pollution was appointed by Governor Tom Berry.

(Medical students learn the art of taking
blood pressure readings, 1934;
USD Archives and Special Collections)
  • The federal Social Security Act was passed.

1936

  • The Child Hygiene Division became the Division of Maternal and Child Health.

  • Crippled Children’s Services was added to the responsibilities of the State Board of Health.

  • The Child Health Nursing Project was terminated when federal funds were no longer available.

1937

  • The Legislature empowered the Board of Health to receive and administer grants in aid under Title V of the Social Security Act covering services to children with disabilities.

  • Scarlet fever was the most recorded disease.

  • Legislation limited the stay at the state Sanitarium south of Custer, to 18 months unless medical staff determined more treatment was needed.

 

1938

  • Venereal disease control was added to the responsibilities of the State Board of Health.

  • The South Dakota Board of Health had eighty-six staff members.

  • Measles and chickenpox were the highest recorded diseases.
  • The total amount of money spent for public health was only 38 cents per capita per year and was deemed insufficient by the State Board of Health to meet the need for good health.
(Venereal disease serology section of the Public Health
Laboratory, Vermillion, circa 1951;
Photo courtesy South Dakota State Historical Society)
  • The total amount of money spent for public health was only 38 cents per capita per year and was deemed insufficient by the State Board of Health to meet the need for good health.

 

1939

  • At the State Health Laboratory, a serological laboratory supplementing blood test work for venereal disease was established in Pierre following the adoption by the Legislature of a law forbidding the issuance of a marriage license to anyone with syphilis.

  • The Division of Laboratories was added to the State Board of Health.

  • The State Health Officers Association was renamed the South Dakota Public Health Association. (SDPHA).

  • A milk sanitation program was inaugurated by the State Board of Health.

1940

  • Many public health programs were curtailed during the war years because a large number of the doctors and nurses joined the military.

  • The Division of Public Health Nursing was established and Mrs. Florence Walker Englesby was appointed director.

1941

  • The Sanitarium previously operated by the Board of Charities and Corrections since its inception in 1909, was taken over by the Board of Health and operated into the early 1960s.

  • An eight-week orientation program for newly appointed public health nurses was initiated to help them learn the basics of public health.

1942

  • The first manual with policies and procedures for public nurses was prepared by the Division of Public Health Nursing.

  • The USDSM (University of South Dakota Medical School) started the Medical Technology program.

(Medical student prepares slides in a histology lab, 1930s;
USD Archives and Special Collections)
(Medical technology students practice phlebotomy.
The Medical School started the program in 1942.
USD Archives and Special Collections)

 

1945

  • Governor M.Q. Sharpe appointed representatives from 32 state organizations to serve on the State Health Committee to provide a report on medical care and health facilities in the state.

  • The South Dakota Department of Health began collecting information on hospital facilities in the state on an annual basis.

  • In September, the first Public Health Nursing Manual of Records and Reports was issued clarifying the use of forms and records.

  • Tuberculosis control, which at that time was federally sponsored, came under the responsibilities of the State Board of Health.
dental prophylaxis
  • South Dakota had 252 practicing dentists (one per every 698 children), 325 physicians in private practice (257 general practitioners, 5 pediatricians, 63 other specialists), and 65 general hospitals.
(Dental prophylaxis, date unknown;
USD Archives and Special Collections)
  • The Legislature passed the hospital licensing law establishing the State Board of Health as the enforcing agency and empowered the Board to establish rules and regulations concerning sanitation.