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


  • For the 2011-12 school year, vaccination rates for kindergarteners exceeded 95% coverage.

  • The Department relocated some services to temporary facilities during the Missouri River flood in Pierre.

  • A major shift in the program focus of the strategies to prevent HIV/AIDS was made to better reach those most at risk of infecting others.

  • The South Dakota Governor’s Task Force on Infant Mortality issued its final report which states that South Dakota ranks 21st in the nation for its neonatal mortality rate and gives recommendations to lessen the mortality rate for infants.

  • A public education campaign was developed to promote breast-feeding.

  • The Dakota Smiles dental program of Delta Dental had served 16,317 patients since its inception in 2004.



  • The Physician/Midlevel/Dental Tuition Reimbursement Programs were replaced by the Rural Health Care Community Recruitment Assistance Program.

  • The Health Professional Recruitment Incentive Program was replaced by the Rural Health Care Facility Recruitment Assistance Program.

  • The Department of Health launched Phase 1 services, rolling out DIRECT exchange services, which allowed providers to securely send and receive health care information via the DIRECT network.  The Department earned recognition as just the third state in the nation to receive approval to move into Phase II services.

  • A 5-year Community Transformation Grant from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) was awarded to the state through a competitive grant program bringing $812,383 annually to the state to use for programming tobacco-free living, active living, and healthy eating, as well as other efforts.

  • The Governor’s Primary Care Task Force was organized and completed its report and recommendations on ensuring accessibility to primary care for all South Dakotans.

  • The Legislature appropriated funding to establish the Frontier and Rural Medicine (FARM) program with the goal of increasing the number of primary care physicians who practice in rural South Dakota.


  • New 24-hour Avera emergency room and specialist consultations were implemented at the State Penitentiary, Mike Durfee State Prison, and Women’s Prison using two-way telehealth video, thereby significantly reducing inmate transfers for ER and medical consultations.

  • The Department of Health implemented live interfaces with two large health care systems to allow the secure transfer of immunization information via SD Health Link from the provider to the state Immunization Registry, eliminating the need for duplicate entry at the provider end. 

  • The Department implemented a second interface with a large health care system, allowing the capture and transport of reportable disease information to the state disease surveillance system via SD Health Link, allowing for a quicker response.

  • South Dakota achieved a state ranking of third in the nation for the percent of pregnant women enrolled in the text4baby program, a social media campaign designed to educate and link pregnant women to health services.

  • The 48 cases of syphilis reported in the state were the highest number on record in 44 years.

  • South Dakota had nine cases of tuberculosis reported, the lowest ever recorded for the state.


  • South Dakota celebrates 125 years of statehood.