Severtson Named Healthcare Hero

Posted: 9/20/2017

Helping Kids Round First Delivers Donated Hospital Equipment to Nicaragua

Craig Severtson, founder of the non-profit Helping Kids Round First, was honored today by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations with the 2017 Healthcare Hero Distinguished Service Award. Severtson’s organization improves access to, and quality of, healthcare services to the poorest regions of Nicaragua by delivering donated hospital equipment. Pictured from left to right: Madison Regional Health System CEO Tamara Miller; Severtson’s wife, Joan; Severtson; Brookings Health System CEO Jason Merkley.Craig Severtson, founder of the non-profit Helping Kids Round First (HKRF), was honored today by the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations (SDAHO) with the 2017 Healthcare Hero Distinguished Service Award.

The award recognizes an individual who goes above and beyond to provide extraordinary patient care. Severtson’s organization, HKRF, improves access to, and quality of, healthcare services to the poorest regions of Nicaragua by delivering donated hospital equipment.

Severtson, who farms and ranches near Flandreau, SD, was an amateur baseball player and founded HKRF in 2009 to give underprivileged youth in Nicaragua opportunities through baseball. The organization’s mission has since expanded to better serve the Nicaraguan people. Today delegations travel to Nicaragua every four to six weeks to bring baseball and softball gear, school supplies, agricultural resources and medical equipment to impoverished communities.

HKRF’s entry into health care was unexpected and unplanned, but Severtson and the organization said yes to a need. For years, delegations brought basic medical and hygiene supplies to children, families and HIV patients. When the South Dakota ELCA Synod, one of HKRF’s partners, connected with doctor and Pastor Soliette Lopez of the Nicaraguan Lutheran Church, she used the medical and hygiene supplies for families with HIV. Supporting her mission became a priority for HKRF.

Severtson and his fellow delegates began touring medical facilities in Nicaragua. They saw beds that were simple blanket pallets on the floor and were provided by family members, not the facility. In some facilities, all the rooms would be filled with patients lying on cots in the hallways. Medical equipment was outdated and rudimentary. Rooms were dirty and patients were uncomfortable. Beds, linens, pillows and simple toiletries were a luxury most rural hospitals only dreamt of having, let alone surgical trays, privacy screens, and other items American hospital patients take for granted as a part of their medical care.

Medical equipment perceived as surplus or outdated in the United States is considered state-of-the-art in Nicaragua. One delegate inquired with Madison Regional Health System, which opened a new facility in October 2015, and asked the health system to give surplus equipment from their project. Madison Regional donated a variety of medical equipment to HKRF, including all 25 patient beds and lights from the operating and emergency rooms. Severtson and his team built relationships with the Nicaraguan government and made connections with local hospitals to get the surplus equipment in to the country. After 22 months of planning, packing, paperwork and bureaucratic red tape, the hospital arrived in Managua in November 2016. The equipment and supplies were distributed to under-resourced hospitals in Masaya and Nueva Segovia.

Brookings Health System started expanding and renovating its hospital in 2015. The health system’s leadership heard how HKRF planned to use items from Madison Reigonal’s old hospital. Leadership reached out to Severtson to see if HKRF could use the surplus items from Brookings Hospital to continue to modernize health care facilities in Nicaragua. Severtson said yes. Equipment from the old Brookings Hospital included hospital beds, surgical lights, desks, shelving, linens, bedspreads, and a portable X-ray system. Two shipments have gone out so far; the third shipment will be sent to Nicaragua in the next two weeks.

Severtson and HKRF plan to continue to work with area healthcare organizations to support the health needs of the Nicaraguan people. For more information about HKRF and how you can support the organization’s mission, please visit

About Madison Regional Health System

Madison Regional Health is a 22 bed non-profit, independent, facility that has been serving Madison and its surrounding communities for over a century. The Madison Regional Health System and its 200 employees are dedicated to providing cost-effective, quality clinical, inpatient and outpatient healthcare services. This facility is certified by Medicare and Medicaid. More information can be found at

About Brookings Health System

Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic, and medical clinics in Arlington, White and Volga, South Dakota. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, surgical and extended care services. The emergency room is staffed 24 hours a day and provides around the clock patient needs ranging from minor injuries to life threatening crises. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at