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South Dakota provides millions of dollars in grants to nursing homes

South Dakota provides millions of dollars in grants to nursing homes


To the uninitiated, taking a sick nursing home resident to the hospital or emergency room may not seem like a big deal.

But these trips can be tough on older patients and facility staff, who have to help nurses hook and unhook medical equipment, bundle patients in warm clothing, and help them get into vans with wheelchairs and walkers. They often have to endure long wait times to see a doctor or doctor. Medical records are not always accessible.

“Going to the emergency room isn't good for everyone, but it's especially good for seniors,” said Josh Hofmeyer, CEO of Dow Rummel Village Senior Campus in Sioux Falls. Not,” he said. “If you can avoid sending someone out (for medical care), it makes a huge difference.”

The best way to avoid stressful travel and provide more care within a senior living facility is to utilize telehealth services. That's why Hoffmeyer and others in South Dakota's long-term care industry are excited about two bills passed by the 2024 legislative session and subsequently signed by Gov. Kristi Noem.

Governor proposes raising payment rate and subsidy system for nursing homes

This story was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a nonprofit news organization. For more detailed reporting, please visit Gov. Kristi Noem announced the aid plan Wednesday.

Senate Bill 209 provides $5 million in grants to long-term care facilities to implement or expand telehealth services. The measure would be funded with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, and the grant would be administered by the state Department of Health.

Another bill, Senate Bill 80, would require senior care service providers to pursue innovations that can “improve the quality of life and health of senior residents and assist health care workers.” A grant of $2 million will be provided. The fund would use state general fund money for grants administered by the Department of Human Services. Both measures stem from a summer 2023 legislative study session on the long-term care industry.

Telehealth providers, such as Sioux Falls-based Avel eCare, maintain a steady stream of nurses and doctors who are available on call at any time to provide care through an internet connection and video link. Long-term care residents have access to near-instant medical diagnosis and care at any time, with the assistance of in-room facility staff and healthcare professionals working remotely.

The Dow Ramel campus has been using telemedicine in the skilled nursing building for several years. A new grant program could allow the facility to expand telehealth services to other steps in the continuum of care at the campus, which houses about 315 residents.

“When you have a large population here on campus and you're dealing with their various medical needs, there's a lot that you have to deal with. That's why we have this 24/7 access to telehealth. It’s really helpful to be able to do that.’ It really helped,” Hoffmeyer said. “It's the wave of the future.”

Innovation grants for home health care

State Sen. Sidney Davis (R-Burbank), the lead sponsor of both health care subsidy bills, said the $2 million pool of innovation grants will help more people stay in nursing homes as they age. He said people may be able to stay in their homes longer instead of moving in. Davis told Newswatch that the innovation grant will help pay for more home monitoring and mobile diagnostic devices that patients can use at home and health care workers can use during home health visits. He said he may have to pay.

She said alternative models of care need to be found to keep patients safe and healthy at home for as long as possible because that's where they want to be. It's better for them and cheaper for the state.

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Davis, an anesthesiologist who is also a rancher, said a key element of the Innovation Grant Act is that recipients monitor the effectiveness of new technology and equipment and keep track of what works and what doesn't. It is said that it is mandatory to submit a report to the state.

Perhaps some of these investments are worth continuing or putting more money into in the future based on good results. Alternatively, providers may be able to make their own investments in the future, she says. We complement each other and are able to provide as much flexibility as possible to healthcare providers to best care for older adults.

The field of telemedicine has been growing for decades, but it has come a long way during the COVID-19 pandemic, when in-person medical visits have been drastically reduced.

This artist's rendering shows what the $350 million virtual care center to be built by Sanford Health will look like. The new center is scheduled to be completed this year in northwest Sioux Falls, South Dakota. (Photo: Provided by Sanford Health)

South Dakota is a leader in the telehealth industry, with the launch of Avel eCare in 1993 and the significant expansion of telehealth efforts offered by Sioux Falls-based Sanford Health.

The $350 million virtual care center will include a 60,000-square-foot facility under construction at the Sanford Sports Complex, just west of Sioux Falls Regional Airport.

When it comes to visual healthcare, “seeing is believing”

In the case of Avel eCare, subscribers install their own Internet connection and are provided with a mobile diagnostic cart with a video screen, before paying a pre-arranged subscription fee for the service, Avel's Senior Care Department said Medical Director Dr. Victoria Walker.

For a pre-arranged subscription fee, long-term care facilities receive emergency evaluations, ordering and interpretation of diagnostic tests, prescription drug assistance, and treatment instructions from geriatric-trained physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists. Telehealth support is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including: said Walker.

Avel practitioners have access to patients' current medical records both during hospital visits and within long-term care facilities to ensure good continuity of care.

Walker was recently working as Arvel's on-call doctor when a man in his 60s had suffered a stroke and was admitted to a nursing home where he was being fed through a tube. He was vomiting, in severe discomfort, and could be in danger, but he didn't want to go to the hospital. Walker used the Avel telemedicine tool to assess herself and was able to recognize that she was suffering from gastroenteritis and was severely dehydrated. She was able to order the necessary fluids and on the spot she was able to administer them intravenously. The patient stabilized without requiring transport to the hospital.

A little-known law requires adult children to pay for their parents' nursing care.

This story was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a nonprofit news organization. For more reporting, visit South Dakota law could force adult children to:

Seeing is believing, she said, so being able to talk to someone face-to-face can help you quickly figure out what's needed in a situation and get things moving.

Walker said a new state grant program has enough funding to bring telehealth to more long-term care facilities and patients.

“I think that could make a pretty big difference. And once that infrastructure is in place, it's like putting a little bit of oil on the wheels so that we can take advantage of every new gizmo that comes along.” she said. “This is a proven approach to providing quality care to seniors, and we've done nothing but make it stronger and better.”

Revitalizing the nursing care industry

Mark Deak, executive director of the South Dakota Healthcare Association, which represents the state's long-term care industry, said the two sets of grants will provide much-needed support for residents and staff across struggling nursing homes. He said it would be. industry across the state.

Dieck testified before Congress in support of both subsidy programs, saying 17 long-term care facilities in South Dakota have closed over the past five years, largely due to financial difficulties and a lack of workers.

Obviously, long-term care faces incredible challenges, some very unique challenges, he said.

Deak said the state is providing significant support to the industry by increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to health care providers by 25% in 2023 and another 4% this year.

Doctors and nurses in the Avel eCare telehealth hub, founded and formerly owned by Avera Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are using technology to connect with emergency room personnel in other locations . (Photo: Courtesy of Avel eCare) Grants will help rural South Dakota communities

The new telehealth and innovation grants will improve patient care and increase recruitment and retention of certified nursing assistants, who are the backbone of staffing in the long-term care industry, Dieck said.

By providing access to telemedicine and introducing other innovations in senior care, employees will no longer have to worry as much about keeping residents safe and healthy, and will be able to reduce transportation to hospitals and emergency rooms. He said it will reduce stress on employees because they won't have to prepare as many patients. .

The biggest benefit is that it makes it easier to treat residents on-site, which is a huge benefit, Deke said.

Latest findings of pending closures and inadequate care staffing shortages at Ipswich nursing home (updated April 28, 2022)

The nursing home crisis in Ipswich, South Dakota, illustrates two of the worst potential consequences of staffing shortages affecting long-term care facilities in the state. That is the possibility of nursing home closures,

Among the innovations discussed so far are technologies that can help predict which nursing home patients are prone to falls, detect early signs of septic infections, and help develop nutritional plans for patients. He said that he is focusing on

Both grant programs could be particularly beneficial in rural areas of the state.

Deke said rural areas have very unique challenges because of their location when it comes to attracting talent and providing needed services. They do not have access to the medical support available in urban areas.

The combined $7 million in grants won't solve all of the long-term care industry's challenges, but it could provide a boost to facilities that have significant financial hurdles, he said.

Certainly more is better, but I think it's a substantial move in the right direction, Deke said. I think it makes a material difference.

Wave of nursing home closures hits small communities in South Dakota

This story was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a nonprofit news organization. For more detailed reporting, please visit and stability for some South Dakotans

This story was produced by South Dakota News Watch, a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization. Read more articles at and sign up for emails every few days to receive articles as soon as they're published. Contact Bart Pfankuch at [email protected].




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