Arielle Zionts

Arielle Zionts

Arielle Zionts, rural health care correspondent for KFF Health News, is based in South Dakota. She primarily covers South Dakota and its neighboring states and tribal nations. Arielle previously worked at South Dakota Public Broadcasting, where she reported on business and economic development. Before that, she was the criminal justice reporter at the Rapid City Journal and a general assignment reporter at the Nogales International, on the border of Arizona and Mexico. She graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. Arielle lives in Rapid City with her cat, Sully.

After he was gored by a bison, Jim Lutter got treatment from in-person ambulance medics and a doctor communicating from 140 miles away through a video system in the vehicle. (Arielle Zionts/KFF Health News)

Doctors on (video) call: Rural medics get long-distance help in treating man gored by bison

By: - December 5, 2023

GANN VALLEY — Rural medics who rescued rancher Jim Lutter after he was gored by a bison didn’t have much experience handling such severe wounds. But the medics did have a doctor looking over their shoulders inside the ambulance as they rushed Lutter to a hospital. The emergency medicine physician sat 140 miles away in […]

The South Dakota Department of Social Services in Pierre. (John Hult/South Dakota Searchlight)

Thousands face Medicaid whiplash in South Dakota

By: - May 18, 2023

Until recently, Jonathon Murray relied on Medicaid to pay for treatments for multiple health conditions, including chronic insomnia. Murray, a 20-year-old restaurant worker from the college town of Brookings, said that without his medication, he would stay awake for several nights in a row. “I’d probably not be able to work that much because I’d […]

Community paramedic Jason Frye takes Linda Gwitt's pulse during a home visit in Gillette, Wyoming. Gwitt has been navigating diabetes, depression, and a lack of social support after her husband was hospitalized with dementia. Frye said he would see if he could help start a senior walking group that Gwitt could join. (Arielle Zionts/KFF Health News)

Community paramedics don’t wait for an emergency to visit rural patients at home

By: - April 28, 2023

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Sandra Lane said she has been to the emergency room about eight times this year. The 62-year-old has had multiple falls, struggled with balance and tremors, and experienced severe swelling in her legs. A paramedic recently arrived at her doorstep again, but this time it wasn’t for an emergency. Jason Frye was […]

Marcella Gilbert organizes Lakota cultural activities and provides respite care for parents at the Children’s Village operated by Simply Smiles in La Plant, South Dakota. Bryan Nurnberger, president and founder of the nonprofit, serves as interim director of the foster care village. (ARIELLE ZIONTS / KHN)

It takes a village: Foster program is a new model of care for Indigenous children

By: - February 14, 2023

LA PLANT, S.D. — Past a gravel road lined with old white wooden buildings is a new, 8-acre village dotted with colorful houses, tepees, and a sweat lodge. The Simply Smiles Children’s Village, in this small town on the Cheyenne River Reservation, is home to a program aimed at improving outcomes and reducing trauma for […]

Lindee Miller, a nurse at Avera St. Mary’s Hospital in Pierre, turns on the camera attached to a colpo scope, a magnifying device used to closely examine the vagina and cervix. The camera transmits a live view of the exam to the remote sexual assault nurse examiner. (Arielle Zionts/KHN)

Telehealth brings expert sexual assault exams to rural patients

By: - January 3, 2023

Amanda Shelley was sitting in her dentist’s waiting room when she received a call from the police. A local teenage girl had been sexually assaulted and needed an exam. Shelley, a nurse in rural Eagle County, Colorado, went to her car and called a telehealth company to arrange an appointment with a sexual assault nurse […]

A sign in Rapid City, South Dakota, encourages people to vote in favor of Amendment D, a measure to expand Medicaid eligibility for state residents.

South Dakota voters approved Medicaid expansion, but implementation may not be easy

By: - November 14, 2022

RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakotans voted last week to expand the state’s Medicaid program to cover thousands of additional low-income residents, becoming the seventh state to approve expansion via the ballot box. But as other conservative states have shown, voter approval doesn’t always mean politicians and administrators will rush to implement the change. In […]

People read about income requirements under Medicaid expansion during the “Love Your Neighbor Tour” stop in Custer, South Dakota. (Arielle Zionts/KHN)

Campaigning ramps up as South Dakota voters decide on Medicaid expansion

By: - October 25, 2022

CUSTER, S.D. — A silver minivan decorated with a large sticker reading “Love Your Neighbor Tour” recently circumnavigated South Dakota. Catholic nuns, Protestant pastors, a synagogue president, and a Muslim nonprofit professional were among the interfaith leaders who packed into the rented six-seater or caravanned behind. The road trip’s mission: to register voters and urge […]