Eight people were honored Wednesday with SDAHO Distinguished Service Awards at the SDAHO 91st Annual Convention in Rapid City:

Distinguished Service Award, Media Personality – Dana Ferguson, Argus Leader

Dana Ferguson is a state government and politics reporter for the Argus Leader. Prior to that, she served as a legislative reporter for the Associated Press, covering the Wisconsin Legislature from the state capitol bureau in Madison, WI.  She is a graduate of DePauw University. Dana has quickly emerged as a leading source of legislative coverage in South Dakota, including extensive content related to health care issues. She plays an increasingly endangered but critical role: keeping the public informed and engaged, which promotes transparent and responsible public policy.

Distinguished Service Award, Trustee – Mark Buche, Mitchell, for Avera Health

Mark Buche served on the Avera Health Board of Directors at the system level for eight years, from 2008-2016, two years as chairman and many board committees. Previously, he served on the Avera Queen of Peace Board of Trustees for 10 years – from 1998 to 2008, and as president of that board from 2004 to 2006. This tenure was during the key time that Presentation Health System joined the Benedictine Health System to form Avera Health in 2000, and Avera Queen of Peace became a regional center of the Avera system. Mark has vast board and leadership experience at the local and state level, including, but not limited to, the Mitchell Area Development Campaign for Our Economic Future, South Dakota Area Heritage Advancement Committee, Dakota Ventures, Holy Family Properties Committee, President of Mitchell United Way, President of Mitchell Area Development Board, and the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry Board.

Distinguished Service Award, State Legislator – Sen. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings

State Sen. Larry Tidemann is a retired associate dean representing District 7 which covers Brookings County. Sen. Tidemann earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from South Dakota State University, where he also worked as a graduate research assistant, county extension agent and director, associate dean and agriculture program leader for the SDSU Cooperative Extension Service. Sen. Tidemann is a longtime friend of health care with a fair and thoughtful approach to lawmaking. During the 2017 session, serving as appropriations chair, his navigation of daunting fiscal challenges helped avoid Medicaid provider cuts and even resulted in modest increases for certain provider types.

Distinguished Service Award, State Official – Brenda Tidball-Zeltinger, deputy secretary, Department of Social Services

Brenda Tidball-Zeltinger serves the state of South Dakota as the deputy secretary for the Department of Social Services. She is a Pierre native and a University of South Dakota alumnus who has steadily transitioned to advanced roles with the state of South Dakota with her expertise in the Medicaid program. A level-headed public servant, Brenda is well known in the halls of the capitol to legislators and health care industry stakeholders. Her work on the Governor’s Health Care Solutions Coalition is a shining example of her ongoing commitment to improving the lives of South Dakotans.

Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Professional – Larry W. Vietz, President, Regional Health Spearfish Hospital

Larry W Veitz has been the President of Regional Health Spearfish Hospital (formerly Spearfish Regional Hospital; formerly Lookout Memorial Hospital) since September 2002. Larry has been instrumental in positively advancing health care at the local, regional, state, and national level. Larry began his health care career as a radiologic technologist in Fargo, North Dakota. Larry was instrumental in the successful integration of the Regional Health facilities in Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Buffalo, Newcastle, and Upton. He has served in many capacities in support of health care providers, including the American Hospital Association (AHA) 2014-2016 Board of Trustees, AHA Board Liaison for Small/Rural Hospitals, Chairman and member of the AHA Regional Policy Board, Region 6, and a member of the SDAHO Board of Trustees.

Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Hero – Craig Severtson, volunteer, Brookings Health System

Craig Severtson is a farmer and rancher from Flandreau, SD. He was an amateur baseball player for many years and founded Helping Kids Round First, a nonprofit organization that started by giving underprivileged youth in Nicaragua opportunities through baseball. Since 2009, Helping Kids Round First has brought donated baseball equipment and instruction to youth in rural Nicaraguan communities. During a visit to Nicaragua, Craig and fellow delegates toured medical facilities and discovered an unmet need. Craig and his Helping Kids Round First team built relationships with the Nicaraguan government and made connections with local hospitals to get surplus equipment into the country, equipment that first came from Madison Regional and then Brookings Regional as part of new hospital construction projects. Delegations travel to Nicaragua every 4 to 6 weeks to bring baseball and softball gear, school supplies, agricultural resources and medical equipment to impoverished communities.

Distinguished Service Award, Young Professional – Chelsey Sundberg, RN, emergency department, Brookings Health System

Chelsey has served the nation and state as a member of the South Dakota National Guard for over 16 years. In Chelsey’s civilian life, she works as a highly skilled nurse in the Emergency Department. She is ready to handle a wide range of medical emergencies, including illnesses, accidents or injuries from crimes. Chelsey has also served as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). She also serves as a nursing supervisor for the hospital and a member of the hospital’s quality and patient experience teams. She recently has taken on the role of Trauma Coordinator. The leadership skills Chelsey has learned during her service in the South Dakota National Guard directly correlate with her responsibilities at Brookings Health System, making her a rising star within its organization.

Distinguished Service Award, Post-Acute Care Champion – Ardi Forrester, Marshall County Healthcare Center Avera

Ardi Forrester has been in the nursing field for 50 years, working in the Britton area as the county health nurse, the director of home health, and the director of assisted living.  Ardi retired in 2017. She is beloved by employees and patients alike, who have come to count on her reliability, decision making, positive attitude, thoughtfulness and gratitude.  For 50 years, Ardi has exemplified the highest standards of patient care and humble service to others.