As of September, the Department of Health became one of seven state agencies to move into the new Rapid City One-Stop State Facility on Mall Drive. The agency’s new location has more spacious exam rooms and hallways that can better accommodate visiting families and even allow for double strollers. The building is H-shaped and has 217 large windows to provide natural light throughout.
“Our main priority has always been: ‘how can we better serve our customers and residents in South Dakota?’ We believe this new location will help us provide the best experience possible to our customers,” said DOH Secretary Joan Adam.
The most important part of the building, according to Scott Gregg, DOH’s Operations Manager, is the ability for the agencies to give referrals.
“The One-Stop design creates an ability to make a direct internal referral to a sister agency which benefits everyone and makes it seamless for the families we serve,” Gregg said.
For Linda Ahrendt, the Administrator of the Office of Child and Family Services, the opportunity to better serve WIC participants in the new location is huge.
“Our staff has a passion for helping families. The families are always at the base of everything we do,” Ahrendt said. “There’s nothing better than helping these women and young children get a good start.”
WIC serves low-income parents and their infants and young children by providing benefits for healthy food that can be used at grocery stores all around the state. Parents who meet income qualifications can participate in the program from when a mother is pregnant to when their child is four years old. The Department of Health provides nutrition education through a dietician offering healthy lifestyle options and referrals to needed resources. Around 13,500-14,000 South Dakotans receive WIC services each month, 2,000 of which are in Rapid City.
The Department of Health also provides Bright Start services at the new location. The program was expanded this year thanks to Governor Kristi Noem’s proposal to broaden the offering beyond the communities of Spearfish, Belle Fourche, Rapid City, Pine Ridge, Huron, Aberdeen, Sisseton, and Sioux Falls. Bright Start pairs mothers with a personal nurse from pregnancy through the first two years of their child’s life. The nurses help WIC-eligible mothers navigate the challenges of caring for themselves while they’re caring for their little ones – providing immunizations, case management, and a support system for those who qualify. With Bright Start’s expansion, additional nurses will be located in key locations throughout South Dakota.
The process to build the One-Stop started in January of 2020, before any significant pandemic disruptions in the U.S. This timing meant several design changes, particularly in the Department of Health’s space. The One-Stop concept of having seven of South Dakota’s state government agencies under one roof will allow the agencies to work together more closely in disaster response.
“We have a strong base of partnerships with other state agencies, and collaborating with those agencies makes our partnerships and ability to serve South Dakotans even stronger,” said Gregg.