Courtesy photo: South Dakota State Athletics is honoring 11 Brookings Health System team members who have impacted the health system’s ability to provide care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pictured from left are: Chief Financial Officer Melissa Wagner; Case Manager Kim Gray, RN; Laboratory Director Deb Thomas; Graphic Designer Abby Peters; Hospitalist Dr. Catherine Leadabrand; Chief Nursing Officer Tammy Hillestad, RN; Case Manager Kim Jensen, RN; Case Management Director Lynne Thompson, RN; Respiratory Therapy Clinical Coordinator Derick Johnson; and Receiving/Distribution Supervisor Dezarae Norgaard. Not pictured: Jason Hanssen, Amanda Trowbridge and Justine Sauter.

To show support of local health care providers during the pandemic, South Dakota State Athletics is honoring 11 Brookings Health System team members who have impacted the health system’s ability to provide care for the community during COVID-19. 

“I am 63 years old, and never in my lifetime has the medical profession been more important as they are now. Also, they have never been under more pressure than they are now,” South Dakota State University Head Football Coach John Stiegelmeier said. “We are blessed to have so many health care heroes here in Brookings. To each and every one of you, thank you for Making a Difference, MAD!”

Honorees were selected from various roles across the organization. The honorees are: 

Dr. Catherine Leadabrand, Inpatient Care: As a hospitalist, Leadabrand continuously pours over new COVID-19 studies and scientific research. She has spent hours of personal time developing the hospital’s COVID-19 care plan. Her compassion for and dedication to her patients starts before they are even admitted to the hospital. 

Derick Johnson, Respiratory Care: Properly fitted N95 respirators protect staff from contracting COVID-19 during patient care. Johnson led the respiratory care team to fit-test N95 masks for all Brookings Health front-line staff, including reception and registration staff who previously were not required to use N95 masks. 

Dezarae Norgaard, Materials Management: The pandemic caused high demand for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, creating global shortages. To ensure Brookings Health has supplies to safely care for patients, Norgaard keeps close watch on inventory levels and routinely places orders with vendors to keep the supply chain flowing. 

Abby Peters, Marketing: As a graphic designer, Peters has quickly responded to Brookings Health’s visual communication needs for the pandemic. Her graphics, signs, fliers and other materials communicate critical information and changes to patients, visitors and staff alike. 

Case Management Team (Lynne Thompson, Kim Jensen, Justine Sauter, Kim Gray): Due to the pandemic, long-term care facilities now require COVID-19 testing before placing a new resident. Brookings Hospital’s case managers stay in constant communication with nursing homes and assisted livings to advocate for patients and ensure a successful and safe care transition.

Deb Thomas, Laboratory: Laboratory Director Thomas leads the lab team’s charge for COVID-19 testing. At the pandemic’s start, she secured supplies and testing from the Department of Health. This summer and fall, the lab quickly brought new testing equipment online while still adhering to government standards. 

Amanda Trowbridge and Jason Hanssen, The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home: Administrator Hanssen and Nursing Director Trowbridge have led the nursing home team’s response to the pandemic. With an eye on safety for both residents and staff, they’ve stayed informed on ever-changing regulations, met reporting deadlines and adapted care plans. 

More information about Brookings Health System’s response to the pandemic can be found online at

Courtesy of: Brookings Health System

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