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Health summit serves important need in the Black Hills

Being a good steward of our community includes having a presence at events that matter to people in the Black Hills and reaching patients where they are. Providers and caregivers with Monument Health did just that at the first Community Health Summit during the Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. Seventeen departments participated, representing their services by offering health education, free or low-cost screenings and labs, immunizations and more.

Cory Ferguson, Monument Health Community Relations Specialist, said the success of the event far exceeded his expectations. “To hold our first summit at the second largest event in South Dakota was a huge undertaking,” he said. “Our goal is to reach out into the community even more, and this is a huge way of doing that. I was blown away with how everyone came together to make it work.”

Cory estimates that more than 5,000 community members were in contact with Monument Health during the summit, gaining information about available services, receiving education through one of our speakers, getting an immunization or preventative screening or completing lab work.

Spearfish Pharmacist Steve Case participated every day, administering more than 170 vaccinations. “I loved talking to so many great people from diverse backgrounds,” he said, adding that he feels pharmacists need to “get out from behind the counter” as much as they can. “My goal with each person I met was to do something to help them be a little better off than they were before our encounter. If we prevent even one person from getting shingles, pneumonia, pertussis, influenza, cervical cancer or tetanus, then we have accomplished something.”

George Sazama (below), Director of Intensive Care Nursing at Rapid City Hospital, said it’s important for Monument Health caregivers to be in the community offering information regarding preventative care as opposed to just helping patients once they’re ill. George offered bystander CPR training, a skill he views as “extremely important” because it gives people the power to take that first step when someone truly needs their help.

Cory reiterated the importance of community outreach, especially when it comes to the people attending the stock show – the agriculture community. “I grew up in a rural area that was 60 miles from the nearest town. Similar to some of the people traveling to the stock show, we couldn’t get these services right down the road. To be able to offer low-cost screenings, vaccinations and blood draws to people while they’re here, is huge.”

The goal is for future events to be true “community” health summits, Cory said, in that Monument Health will partner with outside organizations to offer more services. This year, Delta Dental brought its Mobile Smiles program, giving away toothbrushes and floss, and the Northern Plains Eye Foundation offered free vision screenings to youth. Live Well Black Hills was also present. Cory also gave a nod to the Civic Center staff and Sutton Rodeo for being so accommodating.

Monument Health plans to conduct this and future Community Health Summits quarterly at the Civic Center as part of its community health improvement plan to promote wellness and serve the community’s long-term health care needs. Thank you to all departments and individual providers who volunteered their time to help us go above and beyond with our priority to impact our communities.

“It was a collaborative effort,” Cory said. “It was nine long days, and people took time out of their busy schedules to make sure they were a part of it. We appreciate everyone’s commitment.”

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