May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day: Good Hand Hygiene Is A Life Saver

As DHEC and other public health agencies across the country have responded to COVID-19, one of the key prevention steps – in addition to wearing masks and physical distancing – has been the practice of good hand washing. That’s because clean hands save lives. 

The practice is so important that on May 5 of each year we observe World Hand Hygiene Day. 

Good hand hygiene is the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). 

It’s a way of reminding everyone – particularly health care workers – that hand cleanliness plays a key role in preventing HAIs. Up to 70 percent of HAIs that occur yearly could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include proper hand washing. 

The key elements for keeping hands clean are soap and water or hand sanitizer. 

Soap and water 

Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled and/or when working with a patient or an environment in which you may come into contact with contaminants.

The amount of time for proper hand washing with soap and water varies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds (depending on the study), so hands should be vigorously scrubbed for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Hand sanitizer 

An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly dirty because it:

  • Is more effective at killing potentially deadly germs on hands than soap; 
  • Requires less time; 
  • Is more accessible than hand washing sinks; 
  • Reduces bacterial counts on hands; 
  • Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water. 

Whether it is using traditional soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper handwashing must continue to be emphasized by all champions of infection prevention as a constant in the fight to prevent disease spread and saving lives. 

Click here to view a video on why good hand hygiene is important now more than ever. 

RECAP: DHEC Lab Staff highlighted during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

Last week, April 18-24 was Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, and Friday, April 23, was World Lab Day. 

Though the Public Health Laboratory (PHL) is the most well-known, DHEC also observed the week by highlighting a couple other of our program areas with lab professionals, Healthcare Quality and Environmental Affairs.

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DHEC and DNR Work Together to Prevent Possibly Contaminated Shellfish From Reaching Public

Photo courtesy of SCDNR

After several weeks of a joint investigation by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Beaufort Unit and the DHEC Shellfish Division, two individuals who were illegally harvesting and selling oysters in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area were apprehended. 

On March 17, 10 bushels of adulterated oysters were seized from the scene, and 10 summons and 2 warnings were issued to the two individuals. This illegal trade puts the citizens at risk due to the health standards not being involved in the process.  

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Nursing Homes: Apply for CMP Funds

DHEC’s Healthcare Quality would like to remind all nursing homes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid’s (CMS) Civil Money Penalty Reinvestment (CMP) Program is an amazing funding opportunity to apply for that can provide aid and resources to nursing home facilities in South Carolina.

CMP funds may be used for, but not limited to, the following:

  • Activities that protect or improve the quality of care or quality of life for residents
  • Facility improvement initiatives, such as training or technical assistance
  • Assistance to support and protect residents of a facility that closes or is decertified
  • Culture change/quality of life
  • Projects that support resident and family councils and other consumer involvement in assuring quality care in facilities
  • Resident transition due to facility closure or downsizing
  • COVID-19 specific funding for virtual technology, such as iPads and tablets
  • COVID-19 specific funding for tents and shelters for outdoor visitation

More information regarding the CMP Program and its different application types, including COVID-19 Communicative Technology Funding and COVID-19 In-Person Visitation Aids Funding, is available in DHEC’sNursing Home Civil Money Penalty (CMP) Reinvestment Projects web page.

Contact CMPFunds@dhec.sc.gov with any questions regarding the program.

Program Spotlight: SC Adopt-a-Stream

World Water Day was observed this week on March 22. DHEC would like to take this opportunity to highlight the SC Adopt-a-Stream program.  

SC Adopt-a-Stream is a statewide, volunteer water quality monitoring program that is led by DHEC’s Bureau of Water and Clemson’s Center for Watershed Excellence.

The program educates and certifies citizens in protocols for collecting stream data. The program has a meaningful impact on citizen science because the data generated by SC Adopt-a-Stream volunteers helps to screen for water quality issues, show trends in water quality over time and can be used for educational purposes.  

SC Adopt-a-Stream was founded on the belief that people who spend the time to get to know their streams and waterways, through recreation or data collection, will want to work to protect them. The program is a fun, easy way to make a positive impact in your community and help the overall health of South Carolina waterways.  

If you are interested in becoming an SC Adopt-a-Stream volunteer or you simply want to learn more about the program, explore the website at www.scadoptastream.org.