Forty years ago, groups of concerned citizens from the communities of Howard and Bryant (Miner-Hamlin Health Care Project) and Wessington Springs, Plankinton, and Woonsocket (Tri-County Health Care) formed their respective Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQHC) to ensure healthcare would remain in their communities.
Each organization received a grant from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) to assist the communities in recruiting healthcare professionals and opening a clinic to provide primary care. After securing a grant that was to end following three years of service, the Howard Clinic began providing service in February, 1978 and the Bryant Clinic opened in March of 1978. The Jerauld County Clinic opened for service in August of 1978 and the Aurora and Whiting Memorial Clinics opened shortly after.
In 1998 the two organizations, East River Health Care (formerly the Miner-Hamlin Health Care Project) and Tri-County Health Care merged and formed Horizon Health Care, Inc. (Horizon) to better serve their patients.
Today, Horizon serves the healthcare and dental needs of South Dakotans by means of 105,000 patient visits throughout its 32 medical and dental clinics in the communities of Aberdeen, Alcester, Bison, Bryant, DeSmet, Eagle Butte, Elk Point, Faith, Fort Thompson, Howard, Huron, Isabel, La Plant, Lake Preston, Martin, McIntosh, Mission, Plankinton, Wessington Springs, White River, Woonsocket, and Yankton. The organization employs over 275 professional staff.
Many changes have taken place within the organization over the past three decades including mergers, new starts, acquisitions and an expansion into dental services, telemedicine, and computer technology. Since the mergers of the two organizations, the scope of funding from the BPHC changed. Instead of assisting the clinics in sustainability, the current goal of the funding is to provide quality, affordable healthcare to the medically uninsured and/or medically underserved. This has been Horizon’s mission for over 35 years.
Horizon is governed by a volunteer community board of directors. The 14 members represent the communities served by the organization and the current board chair is Sally Rosin from Bryant. In October, 1983, John Mengenhausen was hired as the Chief Executive Officer to work under the guidance and director of the community board of directors. He has provided direction and guidance to the staff for 35 years.