Sen. John Thune visits Custer hospital

Local News

CUSTER, S.D. (KELO) — Senator John Thune toured Monument Health’s hospital in Custer Monday. It was a chance for him to see how critical access hospitals can effectively offer rural health care in South Dakota’s smaller communities.

The previous health care facility was built in the 1960s. This new facility was built around three years ago and cost around $22 million.

“And we have seven physicians for a town of 1,900 people and that is just unheard of nowadays but that’s because we service a very large area clear from Lusk, Wyoming, down to Chadron and into the reservation area,” Dr. Joy Falkenburg, Custer Monument Health, said.

Dr. Falkenburg has worked at the Custer hospital for the last 22 years. She says one of the biggest challenges is the workforce shortage.

“So if we don’t have med students that come to Monument Health or we don’t take care of our med students well or we don’t have a residency, we won’t have physicians in this part of the state,” Dr. Joy Falkenburg said.

Senator John Thune hopes to address some of these issues.

“It’s always good for me to visit people who are providing health care services in a rural setting and hear what the issues are that they would like to see us working on and addressing and see how things are going,” Senator Thune said.

“The rock stars in our organization are our employees. And our state needs to support our employees, our organization needs to support our employees because the employees are what takes care of patients and without taking care of them, they can’t come to work everyday and take care of you,” Dr. Falkenburg said.

Senator John Thune says he is also working with legislators to protect 340B which is a program that helps with cost of prescription drugs. And that helps smaller hospitals like in Custer.

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