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Highlighting health care needs through storytelling

The interview posted above is from SDPB’s daily public affairs show, In the Moment with Lori Walsh.

The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations is addressing rural communities’ need for healthcare workers by highlighting these small towns and the people who work there.

The series is partially funded by the South Dakota Community Foundation. SDAHO reached out to the foundation for help providing better equipment and covering advertising costs.

“We wanted to up our game a little bit, and that meant increase that production value,” said Stephanie Rissler, communication manager for SDAHO. “We submitted the information, they wrote back to us, and they were happy to partner.”

Hometown Healthcare Heroes tells the stories of health care workers in smaller, rural communities that struggle to fill job vacancies.

Rissler says these communities have so many openings because they don’t have the recruitment resources needed to bring in more workers.

“They don’t have the tools for a marketing campaign, so that’s where we step in to try and help out and tell that story,” she said.

In each segment, health care professionals from each location tell how they came to these towns and what they have to offer.

Rissler says the health care workers she has interviewed have one thing in common.

"Those that I’ve talked to so far, it’s a calling for them, and the last handful of years has really pressed upon them how much of a calling it is for them,” she said. “And when they share that with me, they share their rewarding moments, they share their challenging moments, how they have persevered.”

Some communities featured so far include Webster, Wessington Springs and Winner. The campaign began in November 2021 and will feature one health care center and community per month until January 2023.

South Dakota currently has 1,700 nursing job openings, according to SDAHO’s website.

Jordan is a senior English and journalism major at SDSU in Brookings. She is from De Smet, South Dakota. She is based out of the Sioux Falls studio.