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Eidahls experience with small-town living leads them to give back

GROTON (SD) – Growing up and living in a small town was a blessing for Doug Eidahl and Catherine Friesen-Eidahl, one they want to share with others as donors to the Horizon Health Foundation. The couple joined the 1978 Founders Society through a legacy gift in their will.

The 1978 Founders Society was established in honor of the year Horizon Health Care was founded. Members of the society have named Horizon Health Foundation as the beneficiary of a planned gift. By including the Horizon Health Foundation in their will, Doug and Catherine are supporting Horizon Health Care’s rural clinics and the patients they serve for generations to come.

Catherine is a provider for the Horizon’s Aberdeen Community Health Center. Doug serves on the Foundation’s board of directors and farms near Roslyn. Catherine grew up in Menno where her dad was the veterinarian for 58 years.

“I had the opportunity to know our family doctor very well and that coupled with my dad’s profession drew me to the medical field

Doug grew up on a dairy farm near Roslyn. He went to the University of South Dakota in Vermillion for his undergraduate and law degrees. He worked for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, as a telephone manager in Groton and Aberdeen, with rural electric cooperatives and a telecom engineering consulting firm. This set him on a lifelong path of working with people living in and enjoying life in rural smalltown South Dakota.

“I got involved and found rural economic development was really important to those local communities. I have enjoyed that mission my entire career,” Doug said.

Catherine has practiced in South Dakota since 1997. Horizon gave her the opportunity to work in a small, rural community. They both value the vital services Horizon provides in areas that would not otherwise have such accessible health care. Doug joined the board in 2018 and that was the beginning of their journey toward giving back.

“With all the challenges the last couple of years in providing rural health care to those who really need it in these local communities, no one does it better than Horizon,” Doug said.

The mission of Horizon is important and that they are in so many small communities that would not otherwise be served by someone in the medical profession, Catherine said.

“Whether they’re a diabetic or whether it’s a well child physical that opportunity would not be available if it were not for Horizon in many of our small communities in South Dakota,” she said.  

Horizon serves a unique role in providing health care in small communities to many people who may not have insurance from farmers and ranchers to college students to small businesses, Doug said.

“It really provides a safety net to many who can’t afford insurance or can’t afford quality health care. It really fills that void in South Dakota,” he said.

Not having that local, affordable, accessible health care would be devasting to their friends and neighbors and would leave a gap in their own lives beyond Catherine’s employment and Doug’s board activity. Both are Horizon patients.  

“All of their (Horizon’s) clinics are very professional,” he said. “The providers are great.”

When he walks into his local clinic, he sees the same faces who greeted him during his last visit. Scheduling is easy and people know him by name. Catherine values the honest communication she shares with her provider.

“I feel like I get top quality care,” she said.

As a provider she sees the daily impact Horizon has on its patients. The littlest thing can start a patient and their family down the path to a more complicated diagnosis. It is often the first step in getting the care that family desperately needs, Catherine said.  

“I’ve had families come back and be in tears and say ‘Thank you so much,” she said. “This wasn’t a good outcome necessarily, but it got us started and because of that my child is going to live.’”