Gary and Ramona Simon, who have owned and operated West Winds Health Services for the past 21 years, are selling the business to Danielle and Brock Williams of Faith.
The change of ownership will be effective around February 1.
West Winds presently employs 12 people as nurses, home health aides, homemakers and office staff and provides services in Dewey, Ziebach, Corson and Meade counties.
In a letter to clients last week, Simon wrote, “Most of you know Danielle as a nurse presently employed with us. Danielle has worked for West Winds since her high school graduation in the office, out in the field as a nurse’s aide and homemaker, and now as a home health nurse.”
Simon said that over the last few years she has had several offers to sell the business but none of the potential buyers could promise to keep it in the local community.
“We are not a large company and some days it’s lots of miles because of the rural areas we serve,” Simon said. “Potential buyers found that as a drawback but it is the reality of life in our community. Danielle grew up in this community and saw it not as a drawback but a means to serve people in this community and keep families intact and at home.”
The West Winds motto has been “When home is the only place to be,” and Simon said she foresees Danielle carrying on that motto.
“My husband Brock and I are very excited to become the new owners of West Winds Health Services, Inc.,” said Danielle. “For over 21 years, West Winds Health Services is a business that has been available to our communities and we are proud to continue its services. We can see the high need for health care to our rural areas and we will try our best to keep our patients in the comfort of their own homes and offer the assistance they need.”
Danielle, the daughter of Chip and Rita Long, was born and raised in Timber Lake. After graduating from Timber Lake High School, she attended South Dakota State University in Brookings, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in May of 2014.
“My love for small towns brought me back to the area I grew up around,” Danielle said. “I took my first job as a registered nurse at the IHS Hospital in Eagle Butte, where I worked for almost two years. As Ramona stated, I was very familiar with West Winds Health Services. After my previous job experiences, I knew home health nursing was where my heart really was. I started as a home health nurse for West Winds in May 2016.”
“I have often heard the statement: ‘Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,’” Danielle said. “I find that small town people and nursing are two things I hold dear to my heart. We look forward to being the proud new owners of West Winds Health Services.”
Brock and Danielle reside in Faith with their two little girls, Kaydence and Kylie. Brock grew up in Faith, earned a degree as an electrician from Western Dakota Tech and ranches in the Faith area.
They are building a new building in Faith to serve as the company headquarters.
In the beginning
Ramona started West Winds in a very challenging year — 1996.
While working in hospital nursing and research, she saw the need for home care and in 1996 she was approved by the State of South Dakota to provide in-home nursing in Dewey and Ziebach counties.
“It was a bad winter to say the least,” she said — something local residents can attest to. From her home on the Simon Ranch southwest of Timber Lake, where the office has been located, it was 15 miles to Timber Lake, 35 miles to Eagle Butte, and 90 miles to Faith. Patients were scattered from Red Scaffold to Ridgeview and points in between.
“I rode horseback to the road and a snowmobile to meet rides to get to town,” she said, recalling that first winter. “Once in Eagle Butte the only way to get to patients was by snowmobile. Tom Traversie provided the machine and my driver was Romey Gunville.”
“Pharmacy at the IHS Hospital would package up medicines for my patients and a few others into my backpack,” she said. “Off we’d go house to house.”
“Dialysis was my stop back and I stayed with Marne Bickel at the motel in Eagle Butte,” she said. “When all the businesses shut down we had no place for food so Frank Halfred fed us from the hospital kitchen. It was quite the introduction into home health.”
She couldn’t keep enough staff hired as the roads were closed more than they were open so she did baths on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and nursing on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Saturday was paperwork day.
“Sunday I slept,” she said.
The West Winds motto has always been: “When home is the only place to be.”
“With that winter and all the blizzards and snow, that motto was so fitting,” Ramona said.
Ramona has a quote from Maya Angelou on her desk: “Home can heal. There is healing in home.”
“I love that Danielle Long Williams will continue to provide that to those in this community,” she said.