LifeCircle is an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional representation of people, organizations, and institutions in South Dakota whose purpose is to improve care at the end of life for people of the state.  The group’s vision is that people of South Dakota will receive the care needed to complete their life and die peacefully; their loved ones will receive support; and healthcare providers in the state will improve care for patients and families at the end of life.

To Submit information or requests to LifeCircle South Dakota contact the group coordinator: Michele Snyders at or call 605-789-7538.

The Partnership for Improving End of Life Care in South Dakota was founded in 1999 after a Board of Visitors meeting convened by USD SSOM Dean Robert Talley. The focus of the BOV discussion was end of life care in South Dakota and how to improve this care. In 2006, the name changed to LifeCircle South Dakota: Partners Improving End of Life Care.
The purpose of LifeCircle is to improve care at the end-of-life for the people in South Dakota. The vision of the group is that people of South Dakota will receive the care needed to complete their life and die peacefully, their loved ones will receive support, and health care providers in the State will improve care of patients and families at the end of life. LifeCircleSD aims for interdisciplinary and inter-institutional representation of people, organizations, and institution for the entire state.
LifeCircleSD was based at USD Sanford School of Medicine in the Department of Neurosciences from its inception to May 2022 when SDAHO assumed its management. The Advisory Board is composed of people passionate about LifeCircle’s purpose and includes a diverse group of professionals from multiple organizations who oversee the activities.  Chairs of the Advisory Board included Dr. Judith Batchelor, Dr. Susan Schrader and Dr. LuAnn Eidsness.
The three goals are professional education, public education and public policy.
  • Pandemic planning and crisis standard of care:
    • In the spring of 2020, it was becoming clear that COVID was a serious threat. There was an old pandemic crisis standard of care document written in 2009 by the Sioux Falls Bioethics Network. LifeCircle brought this document forward mid-2020 and gathered important stakeholders from South Dakota to discuss and rewrite. These experts included people from the hospital systems, state government and healthcare organizations. We spent the next year researching other state documents, national guidelines, legal assessments and ethical analysis. This culminated in a new crisis standard of care document that is supported by the large hospital systems, several independent hospitals, and the SD DOH.
    • Education about this crisis standard of care is now the focus. Members of LifeCircleSD have participated in statewide panels and will continue to do so in 2022.
  • Professional and pre-professional education:
    • The Quarterly Conference Call (QCC) focuses on EOL education for healthcare professionals. These have been by Zoom since 2020 and COVID. Starting in 2020 our focus has been on diversity and end of life in SD. We have had speakers who are Native American, Hispanic, Muslim, African American and Jewish; a lawyer to discuss issues of guardianship. In addition, the head of Diversity at Avera talked about their services. Upcoming topics are elder law and guardianship, LGBTQ+ issues in healthcare, and home services.
    • The Academic Work Group developed the Interdisciplinary Palliative Care Seminar in 2001. This was taught by interdisciplinary faculty for students of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work and chaplaincy. This was a cutting-edge seminar held three times a year and educated nearly 2,000 students. Over the 22 years, several research studies on interdisciplinary education were completed and their articles published in prestigious palliative care journals. The last seminars were in the fall of 2021. The medical school leadership changed their focus of palliative care education and removed the medical students from the seminar; and the Academic Work group disbanded.
    • Summit Conferences in 2006, 2007, 2008 - Statewide conference for professionals caring for patients and families at the end of life.
    • Interdisciplinary Seminar in Winner SD, September 22, 2014 - This was a daylong seminar held in Winner, for interdisciplinary teams in the region to learn together the basics of palliative and hospice care. The faculty were interdisciplinary. Continuing education credits were provided.
  • Guardianship:
    • Clinician members of LifeCircleSD shared concerns they have experienced with the guardianship program in South Dakota. Many guardians appear to have difficulty making healthcare decisions. A subgroup of LifeCircle members are working with the state bar association and the guardianship program to help educate guardians.
    • Educational material is being developed with plans to put this material on a statewide organization's webpage.
    • Several of the Quarterly Conference Calls have addressed this issue.
  • Public policy:
    • Several members of LifeCircleSD are public policy experts and attend the legislative session every year in Pierre. They keep LifeCircle apprised of pertinent legislative issues related to end of life care.
    • Our last major involvement with the Legislature was in 2019 with the development of and passage of SD MOST--Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (known nationally as POLST).
    • Discussed and supported Medicaid expansion and endorsement on SD Decide.
    • SD Out of Hospital DNR, which became Comfort One. 2004, and 2005
    • Worked with SD Bar Association to revise the Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare and the living will. Testified before committee and educate legislators. 2006-2007
    • Crisis Standard of Care policy, 2020-2021.
  • Collaboration with the SD Palliative Care Coalition:
    • A statewide group with the focus on nursing education and networking of palliative care healthcare professionals.
  • Summary of Other Major Accomplishments
    • Sioux Falls Resource Directory 2008 - The Palliative Care & End of Life Resource Directory was developed for healthcare providers, and other professionals, who provide care and services to individuals, and their families, facing a chronic illness or terminal diagnosis. This directory is a resource for services, programs and funding mechanisms available to patients and families in the Sioux Falls area in need of information, education, and support to manage chronic illness and end-of-life issues. Please, share this information with colleagues and patients as it is our hope that this tool will: help patients and families as they navigate the complex system of healthcare services and programs, procure optimal services and make difficult decisions, increase community awareness of care & end-of-life services and programs; and improve quality of life at the end-of-life.
    • Art Exhibit - “Living until we die” a traveling journal and photographic exhibit of Augustana College seniors engagement with individuals at the end of life. This was part of the Capstone Course taught by Dr. Ann Pederson and Dr. LuAnn Eidsness, “Living until we die, dying until we live.”
    • Public Education - Community forums (D2K 2004, Advance care planning)
We meet on the LAST Monday of every month at 9:00 am CST/ 8:00am MST Via Zoom
(Fill out the form below to receive meeting invites.)
Past Meeting Minutes
Quarterly Conference Calls (QCC) focuses on EOL education for healthcare professionals.
Occurring on the SECOND Wednesday every 3 months ( March, June, Sept, Dec) at Noon-1pm CST/11am-Noon MST
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