SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Rural eastern South Dakota will be the focus of services funded in part by a total $4 million grant received by Avera.

Avera said Tuesday that it will receive $1 million a year over four years in Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program (RMOMS) funding to help increase rural access to obstetrics services.

The grant program targets rural pregnant women in eastern South Dakota and surrounding tribal communities who have significant barriers to OB services and access to care at local facilities, Avera officials said in a news release. About two-thirds of the births in the Avera system each year happen in rural or critical access hospitals.

This $4 million grant will be used with a $2.3 million grant Avera has already received to help recruit and retain medical providers in rural locations and to help them with OB training, Avera said in the release. The $2.3 million grant is through June 2026.

Expectant mothers in rural areas may need to deal with long distances to OB services and some may choose to forgo prenatal care because of the time and distance, Avera said in the release.