Storm Center Update- Thursday AM, March 3

Light snow is exiting parts of eastern and northeastern KELOLAND this morning.  Chilly weather will remain in place today in many areas, but a big surge of warmer air is set to arrive this weekend!

First, we are still tracking some light snow in western MN.  Clouds are still thick in many areas, but we do expect a few breaks today as highs stay in the mid 30s for both Sioux Falls and Aberdeen.  Pierre may be a bit warmer, but Rapid City will likely be in the 50s.

Tonight, a warm front is forecast to advance eastward, bringing a chance of a light mix in the northeast.  Sioux Falls could see a shower tomorrow morning, but warmer temperatures will be the big story.

Highs on Friday will be in the mid 40s in Sioux Falls, but Aberdeen will be warmer around 50.  Rapid City will be even warmer around 60.

Saturday may actually turn a bit cooler in the northeast, but not by a lot.  We’ll hold steady in Sioux Falls, but a bigger surge of warmer air is likely on Sunday.  Widespread 60 degree weather is possible.

Monday looks mild too and a thunderstorm may be possible in the southeast by late in the day into Tuesday.  Temperatures will remain mild most of next week.

HB 1112 Would Strike SDHSAA Transgender Policies

House Bill 1112 aims to remove any transgender policies adopted by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. The bill requires that a student’s birth certificate is the only determinant for his or her’s sexual identity. HB 1112 also bars the SDHSAA board of directors from adopting any transgender policies.

According to its handbook, the SDHSAA has a transgender procedure in place. The association allows “participation for all students regardless of their gender identity or expression in an environment free from discrimination.”

Under current SDHSAA policy, a parent or guardian is able to change their student’s gender identity by submitting required documentation to their local school. Dan Santella is tracking HB 1112 and will have the latest on KELOLAND This Morning.

Care For Native Americans Large Part Of Ongoing Medicaid Expansion Debate

Though the Medicaid expansion debate is on hold in South Dakota, arguments supporting both sides of the issue remain.


Part of the debate centers on the quality of healthcare for Native Americans. Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, says the issue is personal for him.


Heinert says his wife went to an Indian Health Service facility and received a cancer screening test. It took eight months before they received a letter saying the test found abnormalities.


“We called IHS, said, ‘What do we do about this?’ And they had to tell us, ‘We don’t have the type of doctor she would need to see and we don’t have the money to send her out,’” Heinert said.


Heinert says his family’s story is an example of the need for healthcare improvements for Native Americans. That is a big reason he has been fighting for Medicaid expansion.


IHS offers free healthcare for Native Americans but bills insurance when people have it. That includes Medicaid. Heinert argues if the state expands Medicaid, more Native Americans will be eligible for the program and their care will not come from IHS funding.


“That saves that small IHS dollar and lets a person like my wife or myself receive treatment,” Heinert said.


Yet, there is the question of how to pay for Medicaid expansion. Some want to wait to first see if money is available. Still, they agree Native Americans need better healthcare. Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg, says discussion surrounding expansion is starting to help the cause.


“One of the biggest issues has been trying to get some movement with Indian Health Service to see some improvement. And regardless of the decision with expansion, that’s occurring,” Brown said.


Brown points to the agency’s consideration of telehealth, which would help connect patients with doctors and services needed. Daugaard said Monday IHS is receiving a list of services offered by telehealth providers this week.


“They are proceeding quickly and hopefully will be able to offer a menu of telehealth services to all of the Great Plains Indian Health Service service units by June,” Daugaard said.


That and other changes, including the development of IHS satellite clinics, could help lead to savings that would pay for Medicaid expansion.

O’Gorman Students Put On Yearly Empty Bowls Dinner

Many people in South Dakota went without a meal tonight. But a group of O’Gorman students are working to change that.

Hundreds pile into the cafeteria at O’Gorman High School for a dinner of soup and bread. While it looks like good food, the message behind the meal means a lot more. The goal is to raise thousands of dollars to help feed the community. Many of the people handing out the food are students.

“It’s hard when you’re just one person, but like something like this we’re working together and I see more clearly the difference that we can make together,” Theresa Fischer said.

Wednesday’s meal was donated by nearly 20 organizations in Sioux Falls. Stephanie Olson is eating with her five children tonight. She says seeing these students putting together the meal sends a great message to her kids.

“I know they all look up to the high school kids quite a bit and they see what they do. The time and effort into this and they realize that these kids are trying and getting involved,” Stephanie Olson said.

People aren’t just being fed. They also have the opportunity to buy bowls hand-crafted by O’Gorman students. Families can take them home as a reminder that many in the community won’t be fed tonight.

“There are a lot of people that don’t have the same opportunities we do with like food and everything and so it’s great to help them through this,” student Michael Kovash said.

Between the bowls and the dinner, all the proceeds are going to The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, The St. Francis House, and the Food Pantry. It’s a difficult battle, but as Wednesday night’s crowd shows, it’s not being taken on alone.

“It reflects just like our community spirit. How when we work together, we can actually do something and make a difference,” Fischer said.

Superintendent Hopeful Teacher Pay Bill Will Boost Recruitment

Increased teacher pay is close to becoming a reality for South Dakota educators. House Bill 1182 aims to boost teacher pay using the revenue from a sales tax increase.

Student teacher Marisa Myrabo gained a passion for teaching during the end of her high school career. She considers House Bill 1182 to be a bonus as she forges ahead into a new beginning.

“That has actually been quite a discussion in some of my education classes this year. ‘Are they going to raise the stakes for teacher pay?’ There’s Wyoming where you can go and there’s more pay there and even into Iowa, which is pretty close to us,” Student Teacher Marisa Myrabo said.

The bill calls for a half-cent increase in sales tax to ramp up teacher pay in South Dakota, something Alcester-Hudson Superintendent Tim Rhead says could elevate the School’s current starting salary of $31,500.

“We really hope to be able to get into that $37-$38,000 starting range, which I think will definitely help us attract teachers. As far as retaining, I also believe that will be very helpful. A few times teachers, after a couple of years, realize that in order to advance economically, they need to go somewhere else,” Alcester-Hudson Superintendent Tim Rhead said.

The legislation offers more than the prospect of a financial boost.

“They’re feeling a little more respected today,” Rhead said.

“That makes me a lot more excited going into it, knowing I will be able to pay off my student loans a little easier, and also know there will be other teachers who are interested in coming into our state,” Myrabo said.

The bill has passed the House and Senate and is in the process of heading to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

Sepsis Diagnosis After Death

It sounds far fetched, but it happened – a Lennox woman went into the hospital with a broken ankle and ended up dying a few weeks later.

The cause – something you may never even have heard of – Sepsis. It can happen from any infection and if not caught early, it is deadly.

It’s also on the rise in the United States, with more than one million cases a year.  And it’s one of the top ten patient safety issues for 2016.

Norma Reiners wasn’t your typical 85-year-old. She still lived in her own home and walked two miles a day on the treadmill and didn’t take any medication.

“She didn’t look 85; she didn’t act 85,” Brenda Ludens, Norma’s daughter, said.

Yet one night, she got up and fell down the stairs and broke her ankle.

“I thought, we’ll put a cast on, I’ll take her home with me, not a big deal,” Ludens said.

It turned out to be a little more complicated than that.  Norma’s ankle wasn’t a candidate for a cast, so doctors put her in an external device to set the bones until she could have surgery at a later date. She went to a skilled nursing home because she needed help with that bulky device on her ankle.

A few weeks later she was supposed to get a cast on and go home. But instead, she became ill over a weekend.

“I said to the nurse, you know, she’s not herself.  Her condition is deteriorating, she’s changing, This is not her. This is not my mother,” Ludens said.

Ludens was told to hold off until her mother saw the orthopedist on Monday.

“There was drainage from the pin sites of the fixator. She had a temperature, she had an increased heart rate. He thought there might be an infection in the leg, so he prescribed an oral antibiotic. And said we were free to go back to the skilled nursing facility,” Ludens said.

Ludens, who is a respiratory therapist, wasn’t so sure.

“I said, ‘What should we do about her present condition?  Look at her.  What should we do about that now?’ He said, ‘Well I think it’s just the flu,'” Ludens said.

Ludens said she was relieved to hear that it was just the flu and her mother went back to the nursing home.  But Ludens got a call 10 hours later to come and take her mother to the emergency room.

“Great!  She’s going to the ER. This is what I said should have been done at 8 o’clock this morning. It’s finally happening,” Ludens said.

Only Ludens wasn’t prepared for how quickly her mother had gone downhill.

ER doctors told her Norma had had a heart attack and a urinary tract infection.  Over the next 48 hours she didn’t respond to treatment.

“We couldn’t believe it was happening. We couldn’t believe it was happening. But it did,” Ludens said. “At 11:30 that evening, she passed away.”

It wasn’t until Ludens got her mother’s death certificate that she learned the cause of her death was Sepsis, which is a blood stream infection that causes the organs of the body to shut down and if not treated, leads to death.

“I never heard the word Sepsis, or the fact that Sepsis could be a possibility. It was never mentioned during her care,” Ludens said.

Ludens took it upon herself to learn everything she could about Sepsis and concluded that her mother had shown the signs and symptoms four days before being admitted. The longer Sepsis goes untreated, the higher the likelihood of death.

“She didn’t have the flu. She had Sepsis. And she died from Sepsis. In my opinion, a perfectly preventable death,” Ludens said. “It was a clear case and a perfect example of what could go wrong, did.”

Ludens took her mother’s case before Sanford Health’s administration.  Sanford Health is also her employer.

“I wanted to use this story to affect change. Their approach to my concerns, in my opinion, were more deny and defend,” Ludens said.

She also reported it to the Joint Commission which accredits healthcare organizations; after hearing from Sanford, the Joint Commission said the hospital’s response was acceptable.

Ludens also went back to the Good Samaritan nursing home where her mother had been staying to ask for more training of staff on the signs of sepsis. Both Sanford Health and Good Samaritan declined to be interviewed for this story. Sanford issued us a statement saying privacy laws prevent it from commenting on a specific patient.

But then, shortly before this story was to air, Sanford sent us a a revised statement saying it fully supported Ludens’ desire to raise awareness about the symptoms and early detection of Sepsis.

In a letter to Ludens provided to KELOLAND News, Sanford told Ludens her mother’s orthopedic treatment met the standard of care, and Sanford has launched a Sepsis Initiative for early detection.  Sanford tells KELOLAND News is started that initiative four months before Luden’s death.

“The medical community let me down.  And in an even larger part, I blame myself because I should have known more, I should have done better. I should have been a better patient advocate,” Ludens said.

Ludens, a respiratory therapist, has now joined the patient safety movement. She attended the national conference in January and hopes to share her mother’s story as much as possible to raise awareness about preventable deaths.

“So if this can happen to me and my family, it can happen to any family. And that’s my goal, to educate; Make people aware of the signs and symptoms of Sepsis,” Ludens said.

USD Offering Health Care-Themed Camp For High Schoolers

High school students considering careers in the field of health care can now register for a summer camp at the University of South Dakota that will give them a taste of the professions they’re interested in.

Registration for the school’s 10th annual Healthcare Careers Camp is now open to students who will enter 10th through 12th grades in the fall.

Students selected to attend the camp will participate in an anatomy lab tour, CPR certification and field trips to area medical facilities, among other activities.

Campers will also interact with health care professionals and others in the industry. Staffers from the Sanford School of Medicine and the USD School of Health Sciences will also be available.

The camp will run June 19-24. The application deadline is April 1.

LSS Launching Student Loan Counseling Program In Sioux Falls

Lutheran Social Services is launching a student loan counseling program in Sioux Falls.

The LSS Center for Financial Resources will help provide relief to borrowers struggling to repay money they borrowed to finance a college education.

Student loan counselor Cassandra Johnson says the program’s NFCC certified counselors will address the full range of financial challenges faced by consumers, which includes the repayment of student loan debt.

LSS says that among 43 million total student borrowers, 7.3 million are at least 90 days delinquent on their loans, 5 million are in default and millions more are in negatively-amortizing income-driven repayment plans.

Couple Talks About Broken Heart Syndrome

When a loved one has a health emergency, it’s hard on family members, too. That emotional stress can take a toll and even cause health problems.

From the start, Mike and Maria McKnight’s relationship has been anything but average.

“I asked my wife to marry me on our second date,” Mike said.

“I thought he was crazy. I’ll be honest,” Maria said.

Two years later, Maria ultimately accepted Mike’s proposal and their life together began.

“From sharing one car when we first moved here to just doing everything together, because that’s who we had,” Maria said.

Two kids and 23 years of marriage later, the couple discovered the true meaning in those “in sickness and in health” vows they took so many years ago. Mike began suffering from troubling symptoms.

“He had more than just a facial tic. He had some palsy on the left side of his face. My thought was he had a stroke,” Maria said.

Maria rushed him to the hospital, where they were told Mike’s heart arteries were blocked, and he would need triple bypass surgery.

“Forty-seven years old, and I’m now going to be laid up on a bed and cut open. It was scary at that point,” Mike said.

Maria’s mind immediately went to thinking about her two children.

“Thinking I can’t imagine what they would do without him. He’s a phenomenal dad, and they love him a lot. That was really scary to think what they would do without him,” Maria said.

All that stress took its toll on Maria. The day after Mike had surgery, Maria also ended up in the emergency room with pain in chest and neck.

“At that point I thought, ‘I’m having a heart attack, and I can’t leave my children and my husband,'” Maria said.

It turns that Maria was suffering from a condition known as “broken heart syndrome.” It’s a temporary heart condition often brought on by stressful situations.

“She had a weak heart muscle. It looked like a heart attack, but in reality she had pretty normal coronary arteries,” North Central Heart Institute Cardiologist Dr. David Nagelhout said.

Now the couple is bonding together to improve their heart health. They’re going through rehab together and eating healthier.

“Lots of fruits and vegetables,” Mike said.

It’s not just their healthy habits that are the same. The bond between their hearts is even stronger.

“We talk more, and we throw bills out the door. It’s more important that we’re live and well,” Mike said.

“It’s definitely made us stronger. There’s that song that says, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ It’s absolutely true,” Maria said.

Broken heart syndrome is more common in women than men. Studies find that women are 7 to 9-times more likely to suffer from the condition.

NSIC First Of Many Basketball Tournaments This March

The NSIC is calling it one of the most successful basketball tournaments in conference history and two Sioux Falls schools came out on top.

In front of an enthusiastic, near capacity crowd at the Sanford Pentagon, the Augustana University men and University of Sioux Falls women cut down the nets and claimed Northern Sun titles.

“Half the Division-I’s don’t have this going, trust me. There’s so many conferences in the country at all levels that aren’t even close to this,” Augustan head coach Tom Billeter said.

“I think this is everything right about college basketball. I commend the Northern Sun, the Sanford Pentagon. I’ve been to a lot of conference tournaments, if it’s NAIA, Division II’s, Division I’s. And it’s pretty special to say we have an event like this in Sioux Falls,” USF head coach Travis Traphagen said.

The NSIC Basketball Championships will be back at the Pentagon for another 3 years. That could mean more success for the Vikings and Cougars programs. While the Augie men are back-to-back champs, the USF women led by tournament MVP Taylor Varsho made school history with their first NSIC championship.

“Great coaching staff. Couldn’t ask for a better ending my senior year. It’s not done though. Six more games and hopefully cutting down another net,” Varsho said.

While the Coo will be headed elsewhere for regionals, the Augustana men won’t be going far. The university will most likely host the Central Regional at the Pentagon March 12 to 15 but they won’t find out for sure until Sunday.

“To get to be able to do that at this Pentagon court is amazing. These past four days, our fans have been incredible and to have that in the next week and half back here for the regionals, that’s such an advantage,” Augie senior Daniel Jansen said.

If you like basketball, we hope you saved up some money for tournament tickets. The NSIC championships are just the beginning for Sioux Falls this month.

  • The Summit League Tournament (March 5-8) tips off this Saturday at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.
  • The next weekend will likely be the Augustana-hosted Central Regional (March 12-15) at the Sanford Pentagon.
  • After a days rest, fans can jump back in with the Class AA boys and girls state tournaments (March 17-19) at the PREMIER Center and Arena.
  • Shortly after that, the women’s Division-II Elite Eight (March 21-22) takes place at the Pentagon.
  • And finally, the women’s Division-I Regional (March 25 & 27) gets underway at the PREMIER Center to end March madness in Sioux Falls.