Mark Deak

The state public health lab is organizing mass COVID-19 testing in nursing homes over the next month—starting in communities with substantial spread of the virus.

Long-term care facilities in the state face two overwhelming challenges. Their residents are some of the most vulnerable to COVID-19. In fact, more than half of the state’s COVID fatalities are older patients.   The pandemic is also exacerbating existing financial challenges.      

Legislators approve a ten percent ongoing increase in Medicaid reimbursement in response to the statewide nursing home crisis. That equals nearly 18 million additional dollars. 

Loren Diekman is the president and CEO of Jenkins Living Center in Watertown. He’s followed the Medicaid reimbursement issue closely and made several phone calls to the governor’s office and legislators. He says he’s very happy about the approved increase.


In order to spur development of other long-term care options, South Dakota placed a limit on the number of nursing home beds in the state in the 1980’s. When a nursing home closes, that facility’s beds are held by the state’s Department of Health until they’re assigned to other facilities through an application process. In light of increasing nursing home closures, a senate bill seeks to add some flexibility to the process of re-allotting beds from a closed nursing home.