Penitentiary employees receive heart screenings in memory of co-worker


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many people in KELOLAND have put off important medical screenings during the pandemic. But Sanford Health’s mobile unit has been on the road to make those screenings as convenient as possible.

“Preventative care is very key because we want to be pro-active versus reactive and so, by doing these screenings, if we’re able to save one life, we’re doing our job,” Lori Visker of Sanford Health Business Development said.

The mobile unit has been at the South Dakota State Penitentiary this week providing reduced-cost heart and vascular screenings for Department of Corrections employees. These screenings are personal, for people at the pen.

Penitentiary attorney Wade Warntjes has a family history of heart disease, so he’s making sure he gets screened.

“The main reason I wanted to do this is it gives myself and my family peace of mind that everything’s okay,” Warntjes.

The DOC is partnering with Sanford Health to provide the screenings as part of Correctional Employees Appreciation Week.

“It’s two different screenings, one for your heart and one for vascular and it’s just a matter of getting some images done, hooking up a few wires to you, in and out in under an hour for both of them,” Warntjes.

The screenings also serve as a medical memorial to prison unit manager Keith Ditmanson, who died last fall of a heart attack.

“It’s pretty special from our family to know that the warden has extended that on behalf of the memory of Keith, to get this done for the employees,” Matt Ditmanson said.

The screenings have led to positive results for some of the DOC workers.

“And I’ve been getting some thank-you’s from those individuals that are appreciative that they did not know that they were in this bad shape, they needed attention, they feel fine, so this has been a great experience for those individuals as well,” Warden Darin Young said.

For Warntjes, the screening resulted in a clean bill of health, and that peace of mind he was looking for.

“My wife just came in to get her’s done, and I’ll be able to share with her that everything’s good and I know that will be a relief to her,” Warntjes said.

Warden Young says the plan after this week is to offer screenings to police officers, as well.

There are many ways to improve your heart health, including through diet and exercise. You can check out the American Heart Association’s Healthy Living recommendations

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