DHEC in the News: Focus On The Flu

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Good Question: Is it too late to get a flu shot?

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) – Nine deaths in just one week.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control says that’s how many people died from the flu in South Carolina between January 7 and January 13.

In all, 24 people have died of flu-related complications in the state since flu season started in October.

CDC: Flu season deadly for many SC residents, especially bad for kidney disease patients

It’s a fresh start to the year since flu season is finally over, right?
Wrong. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while seasonal flu outbreaks can start as early as October, they can last as late as May.
Since chronic kidney disease and dialysis patients already suffer from weak immune systems, they are at a high risk of catching the flu, which could lead to feeling miserable, hospitalization – along with an increased risk of infections and medical errors – and even death in some.

Aiken Regional hospital limits visitations amid peak flu season

Medical experts at Aiken Regional Medical Centers are providing important reminders amid this year’s flu season.

In an effort to help prevent the spread of influenza virus and other circulating respiratory illnesses, the Aiken hospital has implemented the clinically appropriate infection control precautions to keep not only visitors and patients healthy, but staff members, too.

“In response to the increasing number of influenza cases, Aiken Regional Medical Centers is temporarily restricting hospital visitation of friends and family age 12 and under,” according to a news release from ARMC. “The only exception is children under 12 years old are allowed to visit our Labor and Delivery area.”

Think flu season’s been rough in York County? Brace yourself: it hasn’t peaked yet.

ROCK HILL — Flu season hasn’t peaked yet in York County, according to Piedmont Medical Center infectious disease specialist Dr. Arash Poursina.

“Traditionally, in this part of the country, we peak sometime around February or the end of January,” he said. “I expect it to actually increase over the next few weeks.”

The hospital is full of flu patients with significant complications, many suffering from flu-related pneumonia, sepsis and respiratory failures, Poursina said.

“It’s been crazy this year,” he said.

School custodial staff extra busy with flu season in full swing

Horry County, SC (WPDE) — Florence districts and Horry County Schools report no abnormal numbers for flu cases so far this flu season.

“There’s always something to be wiped down, cleaned, vacuumed, there’s always something to do,” said Shannon Angelo, the custodial supervisor at River Oaks Elementary.

There is extra cleaning during flu season.

DHEC in the News: Flu, opioids, child vaccine rates

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

9 Died from Flu in South Carolina Last Week Alone

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – State health officials say nine people have died from the flu in South Carolina in the past week.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control said the deaths during the second of January mean that two dozen people have died from influenza this season, which started in October.

General Interest

Walmart is giving away free opioid disposal kits

Walmart is trying to help curb America’s opioid crisis.

The retail chain said Wednesday that its pharmacies will offer a free kit that allows patients to safely throw out unused opioid prescription pills at home. The packet, called DisposeRx, dissolves pills into a biodegradable gel.

Child vaccine rates higher in South Carolina than national average even as more parents refuse

More than three-quarters of South Carolina children insured by BlueCross BlueShield received their recommended vaccines for measles, mumps, hepatitis B and other infectious diseases between 2010 and 2016, even as a growing number of parents refuse to vaccinate their children, a new national report shows.

In this state, 77.8 percent of these children were appropriately vaccinated, compared to 73.5 percent nationally.

From Other Blogs: Protecting children from cold weather, test your home for radon, frequent exertion and standing among US workers

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

Braving the cold

As South Carolinians, we like to brag about our mild winters; however, as we saw at the start of the New Year, we can’t always predict what the weather has in store for us. Did you know young children don’t always realize when they’re cold and can lose their natural body heat quickly because of their small size? As parents, it’s important to know how to keep our little ones safe and warm when surprisingly frigid days are upon us. — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Protect Yourself and Your Family from Radon

Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are at risk of high radon exposure. — From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Your Health — Your Environment blog

Frequent Exertion and Frequent Standing Among US Workers

Have you ever wondered if your job involves more standing, bending, or lifting than other jobs? Or if there are ways you could avoid injuries from these movements while on the job?

Last week, NIOSH published an article on frequent exertion and frequent standing among US workers by industry and occupation group. Using data from the Occupational Health Supplement (OHS) to 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), the article focused on currently employed adults who were asked the following two questions related to the physical activities of their current job:

  1. “How often does your job involve repeated lifting, pushing, pulling, or bending?” (exertion)
  2. “How often does your job involve standing or walking around?” (standing). — From the CDC’s NIOSH Science Blog

DHEC’s Jamie Blair Graduates From FEMA Executive Academy

JamieBlair-FEMA

Jamie received his certificate from Katie Fox, Acting Deputy Administrator, Protection and National Preparedness, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security at the graduation ceremony Dec. 7, 2017.

DHEC‘s Jamie Blair graduated from the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s National Emergency Management Executive Academy at the Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, MD, after he completed the full curriculum that supports the advancement of the emergency management profession at strategic policy and executive leadership levels.

Collaboration and training

Jamie completed the four resident courses in the Executive Academy to include: E0680 Systems Thinking and Research Methods for Executives; E0682 Executive Emergency Management Leader Core Competencies I; E0684 Executive Emergency Management Leader Core Competencies II; E0686 Executive Emergency Management Leader Core Competencies III; and a collaborative capstone project. The Executive Academy instills emergency management leaders with a deeper understanding of contemporary and emerging emergency management issues, debates, and public policy.  It provides insights, theories, tools and resources that enable decision-makers to think and act more strategically and to build capacity to protect against, prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all types of disasters.

The Executive Academy provides the opportunity to work collaboratively, share smart practices, and participate in exercises with other senior leaders facing similar challenges.  FEMA’s National Emergency Management Executive Academy is for senior executives at the pinnacle of their careers. It’s the final phase of FEMA’s Emergency Management Professional Program (EMPP).

Three separate training programs

The EMPP curriculum is designed to provide a lifetime of learning for emergency managers and includes three separate, but closely related, training programs. Those training programs include the National Emergency Management Basic Academy, a specialized and technical training program to develop specific skill sets; the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy, a program to develop the next generation of emergency management leaders who are trained in advanced concepts and issues, advanced leadership and management,  critical thinking, and problem solving; and, the National Emergency Management Executive Academy, a program designed to challenge and enhance the talents of emergency management senior executives through critical thinking, visionary strategic planning, negotiation, and conflict resolution applied to complex real-world problems.

For more information on FEMA’s training classes through the Basic, Advanced, and Executive Academies, or other emergency management courses, go to training.fema.gov/empp.

DHEC in the News: Flu, DHEC grant aids Bamberg County, sewage

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

MUSC extends visitor restrictions as flu cases continue mounting

Visitor restrictions have been extended at Medical University Hospital through Jan. 29 as the flu continues to ravage the Lowcountry.

Visitors may only visit inpatients and patients in the emergency department and will be restricted to a patient’s immediate family members only, including partners, significant others, spouses, parents, children and caregivers.

DHEC grant funds waste tire recycling upgrades in county

BAMBERG — Bamberg County is utilizing a South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control grant in the amount of $254,250 to improvement its waste tire recycling.

SCDHEC announced the grant in May.

As a result, the county has been able to purchase a new roll-off truck and six 30-yard containers in addition to making Convenience and Recycling site improvements, such as privacy fencing and new carport covers.

General Interest

700,000+ gallons of sewage spilled in Columbia in ’17 — but that’s a big improvement

Nasty, poorly treated sewage remains a threat to Columbia rivers, but city officials and a riverkeeper group are encouraged by data showing the volume of spills was down last year.

For the first time in five years of compiling sewage spill data, the Congaree Riverkeeper says spills dropped below 1 million gallons in 2017. The group reports that utilities, led by the city of Columbia, released 758,000 gallons of untreated wastewater.