Joan Adam, 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


  • Medicare and Medicaid amendments to the Social Security Act went into effect, impacting many South Dakotans.

  • With support from the Crippled Children’s Services of the South Dakota Department of Health, the first statewide clinic of The Cleft Lip-Cleft Palate Diagnostic program was offered.


  • Heart, cancer, and stroke programs were enacted by the federal government and offered to the states.

  • Work began on state comprehensive health plans, involving both citizens and healthcare providers.

  • Virtually all birth record data was on magnetic tape.



  • The South Dakota Office of Comprehensive Health Planning was established to develop an adequate, accessible, high quality health care system in the state.

  • The South Dakota Pesticide Program was established by the Department of Health.


  • The first water fluoridation law was passed in South Dakota.

  • Family planning became a part of the public health nursing program.

  • The Dental Hygiene School at Vermillion graduated its first class in June.


  • The State Legislature enacted a compulsory school entry immunization law which covered preventable diseases posing threats to school children.

  • South Dakota had thirty-six county general practice public health nursing programs serving 408,657 of the state’s 666,257 residents.


Dental hygiene students

(Dental hygiene students present information
at Marty Indican School
, 1971.

USD Archives and Special Collections)



  • Tetanus and typhoid vaccinations were administered to more than 40,000 persons after the Rapid City flood.

  • In anticipation of a federal requirement in the Comprehensive Health Planning Act of 1974, the Legislature passed the Certificate of Need law, which in part sought to avoid duplication of facilities while providing equal access to quality health care.

  • The South Dakota Venereal Disease Hotline was installed.


  • Governor Richard F. Kneip was empowered to reorganize state departments and appoint the departmental secretaries.

  • With the reorganization of state government, environmental concerns were shifted out of the Department of Health to the Department of Environmental Protection.

  • The state’s Mental Health program was reassigned to the Department of Social Services.

  • A state law was passed providing for the reporting of induced abortions to the State Department of Health.

  • The number of Crippled Children’s Service Clinics was reduced from twelve to six.

  • The South Dakota Family Planning Program under the Department of Health became operational in FY73.

  • The Division of Alcoholism implemented the Occupational Alcoholism Program in state government as well as in industry throughout the state, and provided supplementary funding for the new 76-bed inpatient treatment facility in Canton.

  • Two-thirds of the physicians in South Dakota practiced in just eight cities.


  • The State Legislature approved funds to expand the USD (University of South Dakota) Medical School from a two- to a four-year program, with clinical training provided by cooperating hospitals throughout the state.

  • The Division of Drugs and Substance Control of the South Dakota Department of Health established statewide standards for drug abuse programs and regulations for the sale and distribution of controlled drugs in South Dakota.

(James A Burbach, PhD. works with an RCA EMU 3G

electron microscope, 1972.

USD Archives and Special Collections)


(Gov. Frank Farrar on left in coat, tie and glasses,

checks into an emergency first aid course sponsored by the state, 1970.

USD Archives and Special Collections)



  • The Health Department became involved in training emergency medical service volunteers.

  • The attorney general ruled that the Secretary of Health does not have to be a physician, thus enabling the first non-physician to be appointed to the position.