South Dakota Legislature continues “listening sessions” ahead of special session

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 12:26 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Governor Kristi Noem recently announced that the State Legislature will be coming back to Pierre for a special legislative session, on October 5th of this year.

For the time being, joint legislative committees are continuing to offer feedback based on information they continue to receive from constituents.

The South Dakota Joint Committee on Health and Human Services convened and heard from people in and around healthcare in South Dakota about where they believe coronavirus relief dollars should go. Several testified to the incredibly harmful impact COVID and the lockdowns had on long term care facilities, and specifically senior citizens.

“Think about it, March was about when everything hit. My dad was dead by June 14th. We were fortunate because we got to see him look him in the face and tell him we love him. so but for the couraegous and grace for the nurse, we wouldn’t have got to do that. and that was the only saving grace.” said Terryl Cadwell, who testified before the committee.

Health care providers spoke to the challenges that they had encountered because of the pandemic, beyond the clear and obvious health risks.

“We found ourselves in a retention crisis like we had never seen before. Because at the same time we are losing people to their own health concerns, fears, higher wages elsewhere in the market, the quality of incoming applicants, we were not finding people we could hire.” said Brad Saathoff, Black Hills Works CEO.

With an ending to the coronavirus pandemic still potentially months out, the hope is that relief dollars will go to different causes related to healthcare, to stave off the closure of providers, and to make sure they are able to continue to provide care.

“There were some very dark days for community hospitals in April, May and June, without federal stimulus money I honestly don’t know where they’d be today. Actually I have an idea, it is not a good place. We’ve made it this far, now we are looking from here to the end of the year.” said Tim Rave, President and CEO of South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations.

The committee was the final one of five to meet, now legislators on those committees will take their recommendations back to the Joint Committee on Appropriations before a final spending proposal is put together ahead of the October 5th special session.

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