Access to Palliative Care Services: Innovative Development of a Statewide Network

Document Type


Publication Date



In 2018, the Avera Sacred Heart Hospital and two partners were awarded a planning grant to improve palliative health care services in South Dakota (SD), United States, by assessing palliative care in rural SD communities. Through this effort, a newly formed South Dakota Palliative Care Network (SDPCN) convened statewide partners to develop a palliative care strategy for improving quality palliative care access for individuals with serious illness. Guided by a multidisciplinary governing board, the SDPCN completed needs assessments to (1) better understand the perception of palliative care in SD; (2) assess the palliative care landscape in the state; and (3) explore possible solutions to address the uneven access to palliative care. This article shares the process of network development, considers the future of the SDPCN, and provides a blueprint for improving palliative care in rural areas. The SDPCN sought first to inventory community-based palliative care resources and increase awareness of the need for services followed by addressing gaps identified through a comprehensive assessment. The SDPCN has engaged partners, captured data, and mapped a blueprint for sustaining accessible quality palliative care. Three years since its inception, the SDPCN secured additional funding to sustain the Network and to provide education on palliative care to providers and community members as a first strategic step toward improving overall palliative care in rural communities. The SDPCN currently serves rural SD patients by increasing knowledge of palliative care among health professionals (current and future), fostering Network member engagement, and maintaining an active governing board.

Publication Title

Journal of Palliative Medicine





DOI of Published Version