Statewide Survey Shows Need for Increased Access to Health Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PIERRE, SD—Compared to national rates, South Dakota may have a higher prevalence of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol misuse; people living in isolated and reservation communities face access issues for receiving primary care; and hospital utilization for mental health care is high. These are just a few of the findings from the recently completed survey, titled Focus on South Dakota: A Picture of Health.

The survey was conducted to gather high-quality, statewide data to assess the use of and access to healthcare services, examine the prevalence of various mental and behavioral health conditions in the population, and identify key barriers to accessing care in South Dakota—especially in rural communities.

The Trust hopes these survey results ignite a spark for stakeholders from across the state to work together to improve access to care, mental health care delivery and substance abuse treatment.

Walter Panzirer, trustee

“We see this survey as an investment in the future health of South Dakotans,” said Walter Panzirer, trustee for The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. “Everyone from government officials to healthcare providers needs data in order to understand and effectively address the health-related issues our state is facing. The Trust hopes these survey results ignite a spark for stakeholders from across the state to work together to improve access to care, mental health care delivery and substance abuse treatment.”

Prior to this survey, no accurate estimate or baseline existed that assessed all healthcare needs, including unmet behavioral and mental health needs, in rural areas. A baseline is needed to instigate communication and cooperation among stakeholders, implement effective services and measure impact.

“As we researched healthcare in our state, we found astounding national statistics and data on urban populations, but no data that focused on rural populations or that looked at a combination of disease prevalence, access to care and barriers to care,” said Shelley Stingley, Rural Healthcare Program Director for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “We saw a need for data and knew that it would be a good investment for the Trust to fund a study that would help stakeholders and decision makers throughout the state.”

The survey was funded by the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program through a two-year, $1.4 million grant to Oregon Health & Science University.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting effective nonprofits in health, place-based initiatives, and education and human services. Since 2008, when the Trust began its active grantmaking, it has committed more than $1 billion to a wide range of charitable organizations. The Trust’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, the program has awarded more than $250 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.

Contact

Laura Fahey, lfahey@helmsleytrust.org, 212-953-2814