KEEPING RURAL MEDICINE ALIVE AND THRIVING
Horizon Health Foundation announces substantial gift from
Dr. Tom and Kathy Dean
(WESSINGTON SPRINGS, SD) –Thirty-five years ago, Dr. Tom Dean and his wife, Kathy, bought a plot of land on a hill overlooking Wessington Springs. They built a home, raised their children, gardened, enjoyed the wild life and became increasingly involved in community projects.
They also touched thousands of lives in their cherished hometown.
Dr. Tom, as he’s been known for over four decades, serves as a family practice physician for Horizon Health Care in Wessington Springs. Kathy is a retired Certified Nurse Midwife who frequently sees the faces of those families around town she’s helped deliver and care for. The husband and wife make quite a team.
“We love knowing the people and watching them grow up,” says Kathy, who recently received a letter from a Brookings woman she helped in childbirth. The woman shared that her experience has led her to become a midwife too. “Being involved with these families is such an honor and a joy,” she adds.
Providing these services is also necessary for the survival of life in rural towns that depend upon the crucial medical services Horizon and its staff deliver. Besides loving their hometown, Tom says, “The best medical care occurs when physicians can practice in one place a long time. You mature, understand your patients better and see the full scope of human behavior.”
As two people passionate about supporting community health, they are also investing in it. Horizon Health Foundation has announced a substantial financial gift from the Deans toward the new Rooted in Rural Scholarship Program. The initiative aims to raise 5 million dollars for recruitment and retention of medical and dental professionals, and employee education and development.
The inaugural gift will establish the Dr. Tom and Kathy Dean Fund for Excellence in Rural Health Care Endowment. “It addresses a major need,” says Tom. “Finding the right people, who are qualified, energetic leaders is essential to health care and the communities’ survival.”
The endowment ensures Horizon Health Care communities across South Dakota keep pace with the rapidly changing health care environment. In addition to recruiting physicians and other providers, the fund will invest in enrichment, education and development to foster the best patient care.
“One of the things we’ve seen in medicine is burnout issues among graduates,” says Tom. “But a recent South Dakota study has shown there is less burnout in rural communities. There is still a sense you’re doing something important.”
And rural health care is very important says Kathy. “It’s the entry into the health care system. We are there to get you the care you need when you need it.
As the sun rises toward noon on this Wednesday, Kathy is off to a meeting and luncheon. Dr. Dean will see patients this afternoon and later this evening they’ll both drive to see their nephew play basketball at Dakota Wesleyan.
Another busy day in the life of the Deans – with a generous gift that will support South Dakota rural communities in the years ahead.
Rooted in Rural Scholarship Program The goal of the Rooted in Rural Scholarship Program is to raise $5 million to compete nationally and within South Dakota for limited health care provider resources, to serve local rural populations with the best and brightest practitioners. The funding breaks down as follows: The Medical Excellence Fund will raise $2 million for recruitment and retention of medical clinicians; The Dental Excellence Fund will raise $2 million for recruitment and retention of dental clinicians; The Professional Enrichment and Education Fund will raise $1 million for employee education and development.