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


  • The Legislature passed a law with primary enforcement requiring all occupants of a vehicle under the age of 18 to wear a seat belt regardless of where they are sitting. 

  • A new law was passed providing for reporting the occurrence of fetal alcohol syndrome.

  • The tobacco prevention and control program was transferred from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health on July 1.

  • The Legislature provided $1 million in general funds from the 2001 General Appropriation Act for FY 2001 to the Department of Health for the tobacco prevention and reduction program.

  • The administration transferred the delivery of correctional health services from a private contractor to the Department of Health.

  • The Governor’s Diabetes Screening Project tested individuals in every county in the state with a total of 31,000 people screened.

  • A 4-year, $520,021 grant was received through the national WISEWOMAN project to integrate cardiovascular disease and diabetes screening into the All Women Count! program.

  • The department sought to improve disease surveillance, preparedness and response capabilities following the anthrax and suicide terrorist attacks of 2001.

  • Central South Dakota experienced a Shigella outbreak. (Shigella causes a bacterial infection affecting the intestinal tract.)



  • The Health Professional Recruitment Incentive Program was established to help rural communities recruit nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals.

  • Several laws were passed to grant emergency powers in the event of a terrorist attack.

  • The statewide tobacco cessation QuitLine was launched on January 3.

  • The Department established and staffed the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response.

  • Human West Nile virus disease was first identified in South Dakota, with 37 cases reported but no deaths.

  • The Health Alert Network (HAN) was established as a web-based messaging and alerting system for first responders, healthcare professionals, and other related personnel that support emergency preparedness and disaster response.

(As part of WNV surveillance, the department traps,

speciates and tests mosquitoes.

South Dakota Department of Health photo, 2012)


  • The Dental Tuition Reimbursement Program was established to help rural communities recruit dentists.

  • The Department implemented the South Dakota Schools Walk program which encourages physical activity to combat obesity.

  • The Department secured a $1 million grant to promote the South Dakota High Risk Pool to provide coverage to residents who otherwise would have difficulty obtaining insurance coverage.

  • A cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control secured $6,966,175 in federal funding to enhance public health preparedness and response to bioterrorism.

  • An administration reorganization resulted in the addition of oversight responsibilities for 12 twelve health professional licensing boards to the Department of Health.

  • The Health Occupations for Today and Tomorrow program was established with the Department of Education to provide opportunities for middle and high school students to learn about and experience health career pathways.

  • Cases of West Nile disease were found in every county in South Dakota.


  • Due to the spread of West Nile disease by mosquitoes, the Legislature appropriated funding to establish a grant program within the department for the purchase of equipment and materials for mosquito prevention and control efforts at the local level.

  • Through the leadership of Delta Dental, the Dakota Smiles dental program was implemented to deliver oral health services to communities in underserved areas.

  • The department initiated a major disease surveillance and prevention effort to streamline surveillance activities, increase sensitivity and timeliness to identify and respond to outbreaks and better monitor trends in disease demographics.

  • A partnership was established with the HELP! Line Center to be a suicide prevention resource in South Dakota.

  • The department partnered with the Department of Game, Fish and Parks to encourage physical activity and healthy eating by park visitors through such programs as “Walks in the Parks,” disc golf, recreational games, and healthy camp cooking.


  • Highest number of pertussis (commonly called whooping cough) cases (183) was reported since 1950, when there were 189 cases.

  • The 1988 nursing home moratorium was extended many times before becoming permanent this year.

  • The Department launched the website to offer accurate nutrition and physical activity information for all ages.

  • The Healthy Hunter campaign was started to reach more than 50,000 South Dakota hunters with a healthy eating and physical activity message to prepare for a healthier hunting season.

  • The Governor’s Office, Bureau of Personnel, Bureau of Administration, and related state agencies implemented the tobacco-free campus policies.