Nine people were honored Wednesday with SDAHO Distinguished Service Awards Wednesday at the SDAHO 90th Annual Convention in Sioux Falls.

They are:
Distinguished Service Award, Trustee – Dennis Wollman, Freeman Regional Health Services

Distinguished Service Award winner Dennis Wolman with Freeman Regional Health Services CEO Nick Brander.
Distinguished Service Award winner Dennis Wolman with Freeman Regional Health Services CEO Nick Brander.
Dennis Wollman, who recently retired after serving 34 years on the Freeman Regional Health Services Board of Directors (all but one as chairman), has been instrumental in guiding and facilitating many changes at the facility. Wollman has helped the system consolidate the hospital and the local medical clinics with locations in Freeman, Marion, Menno and Bridgewater, build independent living apartments, physically connect the hospital and clinic, constructed two Alzheimer’s units at the nursing home and guided the hospital in becoming a critical access facility. Most recently, heled the system to adopt electronic medical records for the hospital and nursing home. Wollman has provided capable leadership over the years, though his humility prompts him to credit the entire board of directors for leading the facility in a positive direction.


Distinguished Service Award, Media Personality – Jodi Schwan, Argus Leader
Distinguished Service Award winner Jodi Schwan with Lindsey Meyers, vice president of public relations for Avera Health.
Distinguished Service Award winner Jodi Schwan with Lindsey Meyers, vice president of public relations for Avera Health.
Jodi Schwan, audience analyst for the Argus Leader and editor of the Sioux Falls Business Journal, is a respected journalist who keeps her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in all aspects of the Sioux Falls business community, including the health care industry. Schwan has written on several issues that help people understand local health care. Being in a city that’s home to two major health systems, Jodi handles health care news in a fair and balanced manner and she always remains supportive of growth and innovation.


Distinguished Service Award, State Official – Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Distinguished Service Award winner Gov. Dennis Daugaard, center, with SDAHO Board of Trustees Chairperson Tim Tracy, left, and SDAHO President/CEO Scott A. Duke, right.
Distinguished Service Award winner Gov. Dennis Daugaard, center, with SDAHO Board of Trustees Chairperson Tim Tracy, left, and SDAHO President/CEO Scott A. Duke, right.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard, elected as South Dakota’s 32nd governor in 2010, has championed many urgent needs for South Dakotans, including workforce shortages, promoting programs to help the disabled, addressing infrastructure needs, teacher pay and reforming the criminal justice system. He is continuing in his efforts to expand Medicaid to the working poor by utilizing dollars that South Dakota has paid to the federal government for decades. South Dakota’s plan is the envy of many states across the union, as it would add more than $57 million to our state’s general fund while expanding our Medicaid program. Daugaard also worked for the Children’s Home Society from 1990 to 2009, and his priorities as a state senator were helping children and the disabled as well as reducing crime.


Distinguished Service Award, State Legislator – Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford
Distinguished Service Award winner state Rep. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, center, with Sanford Health Executive Director of Public Policy Tim Rave, left, and Sanford Health Director of Legislative Affairs Nick Kotzea, right.
Distinguished Service Award winner state Rep. Deb Peters, R-Hartford, center, with Sanford Health Executive Director of Public Policy Tim Rave, left, and Sanford Health Director of Legislative Affairs Nick Kotzea, right.
State Sen. Deb Peters, a CPA who has represented District 9 for the past 12 years, is a doctor’s daughter who understands the challenges of health care and has worked tirelessly to promote patient-centered public policy. She grew up attending the family practice medical meetings with her family. Deb harbors an intimate appreciation for the doctor-patient relationship, having managed the books for her father’s small town medical practice for 10 years. Her recent legislative efforts include a bill requiring health insurance parity for certain cancer drugs and a bill to revise the anti-competitive “any willing provider” statute pressed into law by Initiated Measure 17. She has supported health care workforce legislation in rural communities and Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s plan to expand access to care through Medicaid expansion for South Dakota’s working poor.


Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Professional – Mary Schwaegerl, RN, Brookings Health System
Distinguished Service Award winners Erica Knippling and Mary Schwaegerl.
Distinguished Service Award winners Erica Knippling and Mary Schwaegerl.
Mary Schwaegerl, who has worked in obstetrics at Brookings Health System for 34 years and has served as OB director since October 2009, has led patient-centered change in maternity care practices and advocated for positive breastfeeding policies within her community and state. Schwaegerl’s first priorities include patient safety; evidence-based practices that result in the best health outcomes and birth experience for mothers and babies. Her modest nature and servant leadership style gives the credit for the positive outcomes to the nurses and physicians who provide care, but the positive outcomes would not be possible without Schwaegerl’s leadership and foresight.


Distinguished Service Award, Young Professional – Erica Knippling, Brookings Health System
Erica Knippling, clinical informatics specialist for Brookings Health System, is responsible for the design, implementation, protection and continuing successful operation of computer, information and interfaced technologies. Knippling determines user requirements and performs system analysis, design, programming, testing, implementation and problem resolution with our electronic medical records system, and she also serves on the HIPAA Compliance Team. Knippling has been a member of the South Dakota Chapter of Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (SDHIMSS) for the past four years, serving the chapter’s board as program director from 2014 to 2016 before becoming the organization’s president elect.


Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Hero – Kerri Lutjens, RN, Avera St. Benedict Hospital, Parkston:
Distinguished Service Award winner Kerri Lutjens, center, with Avera St. Benedict Health Center Chief Financial Officer Rita Blasius, left, and CEO Gale Walker, right.
Distinguished Service Award winner Kerri Lutjens, center, with Avera St. Benedict Health Center Chief Financial Officer Rita Blasius, left, and CEO Gale Walker, right.
Kerri Lutjens, a registered nurse at Avera St. Benedict Health Center in Parkston, has shown exemplary dedication and leadership in an outreach program that brings the basics of such healthier lifestyles as healthy eating, immunizations and preventing the spread of sickness to eight Hutterite colonies surrounding Parkston. Avera St. Benedict made the decision to deliver regular medical care to the Hutterite colonies, and Lutjens was a natural for the outreach assignment because she was known and trusted by many residents from earlier work she did on the colonies. She logs an average of 2,100 miles a month making her rounds to the colonies, all within a 60-mile radius of Parkston. Once a month at each colony, she is accompanied by a certified physician assistant specializing in family medicine, who conducts pediatric and adult exams, makes diagnoses and writes prescriptions.


Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Hero – Shirley Redmond, public affairs officer, Sioux Falls VA Health Care System
Distinguished Service Award winner Shirley Redmond, center, with SDAHO President CEO Scott A. Duke, left, and Sioux Falls VA Health System Associate Director Sara Ackert.
Distinguished Service Award winner Shirley Redmond, center, with SDAHO President CEO Scott A. Duke, left, and Sioux Falls VA Health System Associate Director Sara Ackert.
Shirley Redmond, the Sioux Falls VA Health Care System’s public affairs officer since 2005, has the innate ability to empathize with veterans and their families, and she works tirelessly to ensure all veterans are treated with dignity and respect. She approaches her work in an extremely organized fashion and never forgets to follow up on even the routine or trivial details. She has served admirably as coach and mentor to numerous rising leaders across the system and excels at developing relationships by readily sharing her knowledge and experiences related to planning, organizing, staffing, training and leadership. Redmond has served as the Native American Veteran Activities Coordinator and liaison to Native American Veterans, and she chairs the VA blood donor program for Sioux Falls Area Community Blood Bank.


Distinguished Service Award, Post-Acute Care Champion – Cindy Senger, Avera@Home
Avera@Home Vice President of Innovation Cindy Senger receives a SDAHO Distinguished Service Award from Avera@Home CEO Sandra Dieleman, left, and SDAHO President/CEO Scott A. Duke.
Avera@Home Vice President of Innovation Cindy Senger receives a SDAHO Distinguished Service Award from
Avera@Home CEO Sandra Dieleman, left, and SDAHO President/CEO Scott A. Duke.
Cindy Senger, vice president of innovation for Avera@Home, has more than 27 years of leadership experience in the hospital and education fields and has been visionary in thinking of new ways to deliver home- and community-based services. She has helped lead the charge to develop the business model of Avera@Home to bring Avera home health and hospice agencies under one leader and enterprise to strengthen services and expand service areas. Senger has been instrumental in knowing industry best practices and has helped Avera implement real-time INR testing. She has the ability to look at the greater picture and has focused on collaboration and teamwork to bring hospice and home services into people’s minds.