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S.C. Food Grades App Wins State Award

Pictured above: DHEC GIS Section Manager Phil Weinbach accepted  the award on behalf of the team. He is pictured with DHEC Chief Information Officer Mi Sou Hood. 

The S.C. Information Technology Directors Association has recognized DHEC with the 2016 Innovation Award for the recently debuted S.C. Food Grades App.

Congratulations to our Bureaus of Environmental Health Services and Information Technology team members that made the project a success!food_grades

In June 2016, DHEC launched the new web application that provides the public with important information on retail food establishments including risk-based inspection scores and detailed reports of the findings. Detailed photos and inspection outcomes are now available for the public with the click of a few buttons.  This level of transparency allows S.C. citizens and visitors to make educated choices related to dining and food purchase options.

Less than 60 days after the launch the site had more than 25,000 visits

The project team included: Rick Caldwell,Sandra Craig, William Phillips, Dylan Murphy, and Mallori VanSyckel of the Bureau of Environmental Health Services; and Patty Mapes, Patrick Yusko, Wes Askew, Seth Church, Dax Patel, Stephen Bryant, Phil Weinbach, and Regina Crolley of the Bureau of Information Technology.

The team collectively decided to donate its cash prize to Camp Burnt Gin. Kudos to this group for exemplifying DHEC’s core values of inspiring innovation and promoting teamwork.

To learn more about S.C. Food Grades, visit www.scdhec.gov/foodgrades.

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Riding Safe Starts With The Right Seat

Did you know that road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional deaths to children in the United States? Car seats can significantly reduce the risk of injury and death due to car accidents, but only when installed and used properly.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children over one year of age. When properly installed, child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by 71 percent for infants and 54 percent for toddlers. Seat belt usage increases the chances for surviving a crash by nearly 45 percent.

It might surprise you to know that approximately three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly or being used incorrectly.

Car Seat Tips

  1. Choose the right seat for the right age.
  • For the best protection, children should remain rear-facing for as long as possible—until about 2 years old. Kids who ride in rear-facing seats have the best protection for the head, neck and spine. It is especially important for rear-facing children to ride in a back seat away from the airbag.
  • When your children outgrow a rear-facing seat around age 2, move them to a forward-facing car seat. Keep the seat in the back and make sure to attach the top tether after you tighten and lock the seat belt or lower attachments (latch). Many car seat labels will tell you exactly how much your child can weigh and still use the lower attachments) and top tether. Unhook the lower attachments and use the seat belt once your child reaches the lower attachment weight limit.
  • Children should remain in a car seat with a harness until reaching the max height or weight recommended for that car seat. After a harnessed car seat, children should remain in a booster seat until the adult seat belt fits them properly (Approximately 4′ 9” tall and 80-100 pounds).IMG_0943.jpg
  1. Check the labels & know your car seat’s history!
  • Look at the labels on your car seat to make sure it’s appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height and development.
  • Your car seat has an expiration date – usually around six years. Find the label and double check to make sure it’s still safe. Discard a seat that is expired in a dark trash bag so that it cannot be pulled from the trash and reused.
  • Buy a used car seat only if you know its full crash history. That means you must buy it from someone you know, not from a thrift store or over the internet. Once a car seat has been in a crash or is expired or broken, it needs to be replaced.
  1. Install car seat correctly.
  • Inch test. Once your car seat is installed, give it a good tug at the base where the seat belt goes through it. Can you move it more than an inch side to side or front to back? A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch.
  • Pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check your car seat manual). With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at your child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
  • For both rear- and forward-facing child safety seats, use either the car’s seat belt or the lower attachments and for forward-facing seats, use the top tether to lock the car seat in place. Don’t use both the lower attachments and seat belt at the same time. They are equally safe- so pick the one that gives you the best fit.
  1. Make sure your car seat is installed correctly.
  • Learn how to install your car seat correctly for free. Find a certified technician or car seat check up event near you by going to nhtsa.gov or www.safekids.org.

 

Additional Tips for Safe Travels

Be wary of toys and other objects.  Toys can injure your child in a crash, so be extra careful to choose ones that are soft and will not hurt your child. A small, loose toy can be dangerous and injure your baby in a crash. Secure loose objects and toys to protect everyone in the car.

Buckle up.  We know that when adults wear seat belts, kids wear seat belts. So set a good example and buckle up for every ride. Be sure everyone in the vehicle buckles up, too.

Prevent Heatstroke. Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. While it may be tempting to dash out for a quick errand while your babies are sleeping peacefully in their car seats, the temperature inside your car can rise quickly and cause heatstroke in the time it takes for you to run in and out of the store.  

DHEC Child Passenger Safety Program

The Child Passenger Safety Program is funded by a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) grant administered by the S.C. Department of Public Safety (DPS). The goal of the program is to prevent and reduce injuries, disabilities and death to children due to motor vehicle crashes by:

  • Counseling parents and community groups on child passenger safety.
  • Demonstrating and instructing the proper installation of the various child safety seats (infant, convertible, and booster seats).
  • Explaining the dynamics of a motor vehicle crash and potential dangers for children not properly restrained.
  • Providing technical assistance as needed.
  • Providing training to DHEC’s public health offices, partner organizations, community groups, etc., to ensure knowledge and skills to properly restrain children in motor vehicles.
  • Serving as a resource for addressing child passenger safety issues in the community.
  • Raising awareness on the importance of safe transportation for children riding in motor vehicles.

For more information on DHEC’s Child Passenger Safety Program click here. 

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National Estuaries Week 2016

By Liz Hartje, Coastal Projects Manager, Coastal Services Division

September 17 – 24 is National Estuaries Week. Since 1988, National Estuaries Week has celebrated the many ways we benefit, from healthy, thriving coastal ecosystems.  National Estuaries Week is a terrific opportunity to learn more about estuaries and the perfect excuse to spend time on your favorite creek or river!

Estuarine Systems

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water – a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers (NOAA). Strong currents run through estuaries, bringing nutrients together from upland and the ocean. Incoming ocean currents and tides also bring the larvae and juveniles of many species of recreational and commercial fish and shellfish (SCDNR).

Estuaries are delicate ecosystems. Congress created the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System to protect estuarine land and water. These estuarine reserves provide essential habitat for wildlife, offer educational opportunities for students, and serve as living laboratories for scientists (NOAA).

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There are two NERRs located in South Carolina. The North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR, designated in 1992, protects nearly 20,000 acres and is located in Georgetown County, about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 50 miles north of Charleston. This reserve provides habitat for many threatened and endangered species including sea turtles, sturgeons, least terns and wood storks. The ACE Basin NERR, also designated in 1992, protects nearly 95,000 acres and is located about 45 minutes south of Charleston. This site protects cultural heritages as well as many endangered or threatened species, such as short-nose sturgeon, wood storks, loggerhead sea turtles and bald eagles.

Celebrating Our Estuaries

All throughout the country, local organizations arrange events, like beach clean-ups, hikes, canoe and kayak trips, workshops and more to recognize the special role estuaries play in our everyday lives. You can help celebrate and protect these important ecosystems by volunteering at an event near you or just going out and exploring these dynamic coastal environments.

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Newborn Screening Awareness Month: Testing at Birth is Critical

Dana Smith, R.N.
Program Coordinator
Newborn Screening Follow Up Program

No matter how healthy a newborn might look, it’s critical that they be checked for unexpected medical conditions. When such conditions are detected early, diagnosed and treated newborns stand a much better chance of avoiding disabilities — or worse — and living a full, productive life.

The blood test that checks for hidden health disorders in newborns is called “newborn screening.” September is Newborn Screening Awareness Month, a time set aside to recognize the importance of early testing.

Not just the PKU test

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) newborn screening program, which currently screens for 53 disorders, originally began with testing just for phenylketonuria (PKU). That test checks whether the baby’s body can process phenylalanine, which is found in many protein-rich foods and some sweeteners. Phenylalanine can build up in the blood and tissues of a baby with PKU, resulting in brain damage. The test panel has since evolved to include disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, sickle cell trait, severe combined immunodeficiency, congenital hypothyroidism, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and multiple inborn errors of metabolism. For a complete list and description, please visit www.scdhec.gov/newbornmetabolicscreening.

In South Carolina, newborn screening averages around 54,000 births per year.  This blood test is administered 24-48 hours after birth by pricking an infant’s heel and collecting five blood spots on a special filter paper. The specimen is then sent to the DHEC laboratory for testing.

You may wonder how our state determines what disorders it will include on the newborn screening test panel. The Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children uses an evidence-based process to evaluate candidate conditions for addition to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).  Most US newborn screening programs follow the RUSP in determining the conditions for which infants are screened.

The newborn screening follow-up program has staff members who work closely with the pediatric medical consultant and specialists around the state. Providers are notified of abnormal results by follow-up staff to ensure infants are getting the care required for the specific disorder for which they screen positive. These patients are followed until a diagnosis has been made, by either the primary care provider or the specialist to whom they are referred.

New data system on the way

The DHEC laboratory is implementing a new data system that will soon be in place and allow for better reporting to all newborn screening healthcare providers. This system will allow physicians to access their patients’ newborn screening records through a secure web portal and provide better data analysis for the DHEC newborn screening program. As the newborn screening panel expands, the new data system will allow an easier transition and implementation of screening for new disorders recommended on the RUSP.

If you have questions please feel free to contact us at smithdm@dhec.sc.gov or schlubjk@dhec.sc.gov.

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Meet the S.C. Farmers & Roadside Market App Team

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a multidisciplinary DHEC team, South Carolinians this summer have been able to easily locate fresh fruits and vegetables with a click of a few buttons.

The S.C. Farmers and Roadside Market App – a free, interactive map that makes it easier to find and buy fresh produce locally— debuted in June.

Work group helped pulled project together

The successful project began more than a year ago with a work group that included representatives from various parts of DHEC, the S.C. Department of Agriculture, the S.C. Department of Social Services, and the S.C. Association of Farmers Markets.

As the partners began meeting, they identified the importance of not only developing a tool for the public but also maintaining an inventory of up-to-date information on the number of farmers’ markets and roadside markets in the state. A key detail was including information on those markets accepting food and nutrition assistance benefits, like SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.

DHEC teams collected key information

The DHEC regional teams conducted 229 inventories—or visits and information gathering from markets and produce stands—throughout April, May and June 2015. This information was used to ultimately create the web-based app that shows the location, hours of operation and accepted payment types, including SNAP/EBT, WIC and senior vouchers programs for more than 200 farmers markets and roadside produce stands across the state.

Last month the regional teams completed the 2016 updates and collected information on even more markets statewide, said Teresa Hill, health eating consultant in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity who leads the work group.

She said the work group and the teams on the ground used lessons learned from the 2015 inventory to improve this year’s collection and analysis efforts.

Susan Collier, a member of the Midlands Community Systems team in the Rock Hill area, worked in the field to collect information from farmers and served on the statewide work group. She said the project was a great example of teamwork.

“All of us worked in our communities to make sure we maximized our reach to be as inclusive as we possibly could,” she said. “I enjoyed it as a way to get to know the community in a different way than we’ve done before.” 

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George Bush and Madie Orage-Green of the Lowcountry.

Many thanks to DHEC team members

Members of DHEC teams involved in the project from a regional level in 2015 and 2016 included: Kelsey Allen, Laura Long, Misty Lee and Page Rogers in the Upstate; Susan Collier, Janet Ellis, Elizabeth Gerndt, Jacquelyn Hughes, Linda O’ Neill, and Candra Riley in the Midlands; Deborah Dunbar, Regina Nesmith, Jessica Piezzo, Sara Price, and Reginald Scott in the Pee Dee; and George Bush, Sharon Crossley, Martha Dunlap, Brenda Hughes and Madie Orage-Green in the Lowcountry.

Members of the GIS team involved in the project were Phil Weinbach and Seth Church. 

Other members of the work group from DHEC included Kristian Myers, Susannah Small and Samantha Truman from the Office of Program Evaluation Services; Betsy Crick, Berry Kelly, Nakell Matthews, Rebecca Wrenn and Michelle Yates of WIC; Sandy Spann of SNAP-Ed; Robert Coaxum, Amy Curran, Harley Davis, and Khosrow Heidari of Public Health Statistics and Information Services; and Alyssa Renwick from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.

A special shout-out to all of these valuable DHEC staff for showcasing our core values of inspiring innovation and promoting teamwork!