(Howard, SD) – Horizon Health Care is one of the 2024 recipients of the Vern Eide Mitsubishi Tradition of Caring Grant.
Grant recipients receive $15,000 in airtime on KELOLAND.
This opportunity allows Horizon to share the impact it makes in the daily lives of over 27,000 patients across its 28,000-square-mile footprint. For more than 45 years, Horizon has cared for rural and frontier communities beginning with its first two clinics in Howard and Bryant. Horizon provides medical, dental, and behavioral health care in 22 communities and 31 clinics across South Dakota.
Horizon CEO Wade Erickson appeared on KELOLAND Living January 23, 2024, to talk about Horizon’s outreach, as well as the community health center movement across the United States. There are over 15,000 Community Health Centers across the nation. One in 11 Americans access a community health center for their primary care services.
Community Health Centers have existed since the 1960s and grew out of the Civil Rights Movement to increase access to health care for underrepresented communities and people. Erickson said a unique and important aspect of the community health center model is its governance structure. The board of directors are from the communities served and
the majority are patients of the health center. Those board members, through firsthand experience and their connection to their own community, provide critical feedback and guidance on the healthcare needs of their communities, impacting decision-making on what services health centers like Horizon provide.
Community health centers focus on removing barriers for patients to access and afford the care they receive. Horizon participates with most insurance companies as well as Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured. A sliding fee program is a key component of the Community Health Center program. It is based on the federal poverty guidelines and considers family size and household income to determine the patient’s out of pocket costs. This is available to everyone regardless of if you have private insurance coverage or not.
“We are there for access for all,” Erickson said.
The employees of community health centers live, and in some cases, have grown up in the rural areas where Horizon clinics are located.
“They just really care deeply for their communities and their families, friends and neighbors that are their patients,” Erickson said. “That provides a level of personalized care. They know you personally, they know your family history, they know your kids. They’re treating all of you. In the end that level of care is going to lead to better patient outcomes.”
That includes a telehealth program that allows patients to see a specialist for a follow-up visit or receive care if their provider is unavailable. Many of Horizon’s clinics operate with a small staff. If a provider is out on leave or not available for any reason, a provider from another Horizon clinic can see the patient and treat acute needs that may arise.
“We have a network of providers across the state that can pick up and help that patient that day, which won’t limit access to care,” Erickson said.
Thirteen organizations received a Tradition of Caring grant in 2024. KELOLAND has co-sponsored the program since 1998, supporting 134 organizations in over 20 communities. Fellow 2024 grant recipients were: Active Generations, Boys and Girls Club of the Sioux Empire, Eat Well Mobile Market, Face It TOGETHER, Helpline Center, Lost and Found Association, Lunch is Served, OneHeart, South Dakota Military Heritage Alliance, Teddy Bear Den, The Banquet, and The Community Outreach.
About Horizon Health Care, Inc.
For over 45 years, Horizon Health Care has been providing personalized, affordable, high-quality medical, dental and behavioral healthcare through a rural, community-based network in South Dakota. Horizon is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that serves the medical, dental and mental healthcare needs of South Dakotans in rural, medically underserved areas through 110,000 patient visits annually in 31 community health centers in: Aberdeen, Alcester, Bison, Bryant, De Smet, 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. For more information, please visit www.horizonhealthcare.org.