Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Distinguished Service Awards

2019 winners

Distinguished Service Award, Media Personality – Sophie Heinemann – KELOLand TV

Sophie reports a daily HealthBeat for KELOLAND TV. She continiously looks for diverse topics to cover, from research to family medicine to women’s health. Sophie is a compassionate reporter who is able to help patients tell their stories in meaningful ways. She always gets a professional perspective to help viewers understand complex issues. She has a particular gift for helping patients open up on camera.

Distinguished Service Award, Young Professional –Sean Bortnem – Sanford Chamberlain

Sean serves as the Sanford Chamberlain imaging department manager, along with supervising the lab, therapy and dietary departments, he serves on several Sanford Health Network committees. Sean’s passion for quality and providing access to patients in a rural environment, are evident in his commitment to his work.

Distinguished Service Award, State Official – Sarah Aker

Sarah has been a valued member of the Department of Social Services since 2012 and For the past three yes served as the Deputy Director. In that role, she has consistently gone above and beyond the normal expectations of the job. As the lead for Medicaid program policy development, Sarah has been instrumental in pursuing and initiating many statewide initiatives. Sarah has also been instrumental in designing and implementing programs recommended by the South Dakota Health Care Solutions Coalition that have saved the State of South Dakota more than $12 million over two years, som​e of which is being reinvested to strengthen South Dakota Medicaid.

Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Hero – Judy Blauwet – Avera Health

Judy Blauwet is a health care hero because of her tireless dedication to safe, high quality patient care across the course of 47 years. Judy’s impact on the quality of care both at Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center and across the Avera Health system has been significant. Over the course of her career, Judy has distinguished herself as someone who is passionate about mentoring, coaching, influencing and developing others in a way that ensures that the future of healthcare will be in good hands. This has been demonstrated by her willingness to consistently serve in formal preceptor and mentor roles as well, informal mentoring and positively influencing those around her.

Distinguished Service Award, Health Care Professional – Dr. Tad Jacobs – Avera Medical Group

During his 37-year career with Avera, Dr. Tad Jacobs has had a significant and lasting impact in many realms: rural family practice, the launch of telemedicine, the launch of electronic medical records, physician leadership, service line development, physician care and burnout prevention, and top administrative leadership for the health system, representing the best interests of patients, families, providers and employees. Dr. Jacobs represents Avera and the medical profession with the utmost integrity. He has set the standard of those who would follow in his footsteps as a physician who has served his patients and community with compassion, concern and courage.

Distinguished Service Award, Trustee – Dan Eisenbraun – Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

Dan has served Avera Health for many years as a member of committees and boards. He provides excellent leadership, both as a board member and chair. Dan focuses on the big picture and keeps others moving forward in new and challenging ways to help Avera grow and meet the mission.

Distinguished Service Award, State Legislator – Sen. Justin Cronin

State Senator Justin Cronin was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for State Legislator.  This past legislative session, Senator Cronin was not only a strong advocate for increased Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes, he was absolutely instrumental. As Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Cronin used his experience, budgetary knowledge, and role to double the recommended increase to Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes in the Governor’s budget address. In addition to the work Senator Cronin has done towards funding, he has also been exceptionally involved in quality and healthcare access issues.  Sen. Cronin strives, as a lawmaker, to ensure quality health care services continue throughout South Dakota, but he is tireless in his efforts that support those in need. He serves as a board member for both Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre and Avera Gettysburg Hospital. With his firsthand knowledge of necessities in farm country, he is able to guide good decisions and use finite resources most effectively so that the various communities in the region receive the timely support – regardless of condition, injury or illness – that they expect and deserve.


Distinguished Service Award, Post-Acute Care Champion – Erica Peterson, Sanford Chamberlain

Erica was selected for hertireless and passionate work as an advocate for post-acute care. She strives to build and maintain great relationships across the state to promote access to healthcare services, transportation and employment opportunities. She truly finds opportunities in life’s daily challenges, all while bringing together a diverse group of employees, patients and communities to influence positive and effective change.



Vanessa Gomez, KSFY Television (Media Personality), Brian Schaeffer, Winner Regional Healthcare Center (Trustee),  Sen. Deb Soholt (State Legislator), Lt. Gov. Matt Michels (State Official), John Porter, Avera Health (Health Care Professional), Walter Panzirer, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (Health Care Hero), Monica Metzger, Winner Regional Healthcare Center (Young Professional), Sarah Talbott, Sanford Chamberlain (Post-Acute Care Champion), Larry W. Veitz (Lifetime Achievement Award)


Dana Ferguson, Argus Leader (Media Personality), Mark Buche, Avera Health (Trustee),  Sen. Larry Tidemann (State Legislator), Brenda Tidball-Zeltinger, Dept. Social Services (State Official), Larry W. Veitz, Regional Health Spearfish Hospital (Health Care Professional), Craig Severtson, Brookings Health System (Health Care Hero), Chelsey Sundberg, Brookings Health System (Young Professional), Ardi Forrester, Marshall County Healthcare Center Avera (Post-Acute Care Champion)


Dennis Wollman, Freeman Regional Health Services (Trustee) Jodi Schwan, Argus Leader (Media Personality) Gov. Dennis Daugaard (State Official) Sen. Deb Peters, R-Hartford (State Legislator) Mary Schwaegerl, RN, Brookings Health System (Health Care Professional) Erica Knippling, Brookings Health System (Young Professional) Kerri Lutjens, RN, Avera St. Benedict Hospital (Health Care Hero) Shirley Redmond, Sioux Falls VA Health Care System (Health Care Hero) Cindy Senger, Avera@Home (Post-Acute Care Champion)


Barbara Everist, Sanford Health (Trustee) Jerry Oster, News Director at WNAX AM & FM (Media Personality) Sen. Alan Solano, District 32 (State Legislator) Margaret B. Hansen, PA-C, MPAS, CMBE, Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Medical & Osteopathic Examiners (State Official) Leslie Olesen, Case Manager/RN at Sanford Chamberlain Hospital (Health Care Hero) Angie Herrick, Performance Improvement Coordinator at Sanford Aberdeen Medical Center (Young Professional) Jim Iverson, Administrator/CEO of Bethel Lutheran Home (Ken Senger Long Term Care Champion) Dr. H. Eugene Hoyme, Chief Pediatric Medical Officer for Sanford Children’s Hospital and Chair for the Department of Pediatrics for the Sanford School of Medicine at the University of South Dakota (Health Care Professional)


Tom Dempster, Trustee, Avera McKennan Hospital & UHC and Avera Heart Hospital, Sioux Falls (Trustee) Dr. Rick Holm, On Call Program SDPT, Brookings (Media Personality) Tim Rave, Majority Leader, SD State Senate (District 25), Dell Rapids (State Legislator) Kim Malsam-Rysdon, Senior Advisor to Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Pierre (State Official) Charles E. Hart, MD, President/CEO, Regional Health, Rapid City (Health Care Professional) Erica Peterson, CEO, Sanford Chamberlain, Chamberlain (Young Professional)


Jon Walker, Reporter/Editor, Argus Leader, Sioux Falls (Media Personality) Bernie Hunhoff, State Legislator (District 18), Yankton (State Legislator) Bob Stahl, Administrator, South Dakota Department of Health Office of Health Care Facilities Licensure & Certification, Pierre (State Official) Becky Nelson, Senior Vice President/Chief Operating Offier (retired), Sanford Health, Sioux Falls (Health Care Professional)


Herbert A Saloum, MD, Board Member, St. Michael’s Hospital Avera, Tyndall (Trustee) Corey Brown, State Senator (District 23), Gettysburg (State Legislator) Rodney R Parry, MD, Dean, USD Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls (State Official) Patrick J. Clark, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Avera Queen of Peace Health Services, Mitchell (Health Care Professional)


Mary Hendricks, Board Member, Sanford Medical Center Chamberlain, Chamberlain (Trustee) Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary of Health, South Dakota Department of Health, Pierre (State Official) Ron L. Jacobson, President/CEO, Avera St. Luke’s Hospital, Aberdeen (Health Care Professional)


Ralph Nachtigal, Platte Health Center Avera, Platte (Trustee) Pamela J Rezac, President/CEO, Avera Sacred Heart Health Services, Yankton (Health Care Professional)


Sister Lynn Marie Welbig, PBVM, Avera Health, Yankton (Trustee) Jean Hunhoff, State Senator (District 18), Yankton (State Legislator) Michael Healy, Vice President of Finance, Avera Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton (Health Care Professional)


Mark Hunhoff, Trustee, Avera Health and Avera Sacred Heart Health Services, Yankton (Trustee) Deb Bowman, Secretary, South Dakota Department of Social Services, Pierre (State Official) Byron Petersen, Vice President, Avera St. Luke’s, Aberdeen (Health Care Professional)


Bill McCleerey, President, Board of Directors, Coteau des Prairies Hospital, Sisseton (Trustee)


Matthew J. Michels, Michels & Associates, Yankton (State Legislator) James D. M. Russell, Administrator/CEO, St. Mary’s Healthcare Center, Pierre (Health Care Professional) Wayne Muth, Executive Vice President, Avera Health, Sioux Falls (Health Care Professional) Sister Mary Kay Panowicz, OSB, Board of Directors, Avera Sacred Heart/Avera Health, Yankton (Trustee)


Lou Sebert, State Representative (District 20), Mitchell (State Legislator) Charles Fahey, Charles Bailly & Co (Fahey & Toohey), Dubuque IA (Health Care Professional)


Dean Madison, MD, Board of Directors, Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System, Sioux Falls (Trustee) Jaine Andrews, KELO-Land TV HealthBeat Reporter, Sioux Falls (Media Personality) Doneen Hollingsworth, Secretary, South Dakota Department of Health, Pierre (State Official) David B. Johnson, Administrator/CEO, Brookings Hospital/Brookview Manor, Brookings (Health Care Professional)


Sister Augusta Johnson, Administrator, Prairie Lakes Care Center, Watertown (Health Care Professional) Lora DeWald, VP of Health Information, Avera Health, Sioux Falls (Health Care Professional)


Viorel G Stoia, Trustee, Avera Health & Avera St. Luke’s (Trustee) Jim Woster (Media Personality) Dale Stein, President/CEO, Avera St. Luke’s, Aberdeen (Health Care Professional)


Arnold Brown, State Representative (District 7), Brookings (Legislator) Joan Bachman, Director of Licensure & Certification, SD Dept of Health (State Official) Charles Ekstrum, Chairman, Philip Health Services, Philip (Trustee) Rex Henderson, CRNA, Department of Veterans Affairs, Sioux Falls (Healthcare Professional)


Stephan Schroeder, MD, Hand County Memorial Hospital, Miller (Healthcare Professional) Jeremiah Murphy, Avera McKennan Hospital & UHC, Sioux Falls (Trustee) Jim Putnam, State Representative (District 19), Armour (Legislator)


Fred Whiting, State Senator (District 33), Rapid City (Legislator/Trustee Award) Gale Walker, Administrator/CEO, St. Benedict Health Ctr, Parkston (Healthcare Professional)


Larry Gabriel, former State Representative (District 26), Cottonwood (State Legislator) Sister Colman Coakley, Former Chairperson, Avera Health, Sioux Falls (Trustee)Helene Duhamel (Media Service Award)


Jon Soderholm, President, Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls


Lyle Schroeder, President, Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls


James Ellenbecker, Secretary of Social Services, South Dakota Dept of Social Services, Pierre


Patricia Biddle, Administrator, Platte Community Memorial Hospital, Platte


Robert Gabrielson, Board Member, Holy Infant Hospital, Hoven


Don A. Bierle, SDHA Legal Counsel, Bierle, Porter & Nelson, Yankton


Thomas Schultz, South Dakota Department of Health (retired)


Warren Kuhler, Administrator, Pioneer Memorial Hospital, Viborg


Theodore Sattler, MD, Yankton Clinic, Yankton


Robert Johnson, Executive Secretary, South Dakota State Medical Association, Sioux Falls


L. Ray Scott, Assistant Director, South Dakota Department of Health, Pierre


Maye Jorgenson, Auxilian, St. Mary’s Hospital, Pierre


Coral Bonnemann, Trustee, Brookings Hospital, Brookings


Frank M. Drew, President, SD Hospital Association, Sioux Falls


Dean Driscoll, Assistant Administrator, St. Luke’s Hospital, Aberdeen


David Rykhus, MHA, Administrator, St. Joseph Hospital, Mitchell


Eugene Jelliffe, Business Manager, St. Johns McNamara, Rapid City


Raymond Wendling, Administrator, Bennett-Clarkson Hospital, Rapid City Sister M. Sarto Rogers, OSB, Administrator, St. John’s McNamara, Rapid City Lyle Schroeder, Administrator, Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls Sister M. Corita, PBVM, Adm., McKennan Hospital, Sioux Falls


Sister M. Rosario, OSB, Administrator, Sacred Heart Hospital, Yankton