One of the most important aspects of public health is identifying challenges that people face in accessing our health services, and brainstorming new ways to fill these gaps. This month DHEC is excited to announce that Richland County has become only the second county in the nation to employ a Public Health nurse in a public library system, which will help thousands of customers access health services outside of our clinic walls.
Working with Richland Library, DHEC hired a new Public Health nurse, Catherine Horne, RN, to help library customers across the county access accurate health information and connect to local health services. Catherine is based at the library’s downtown headquarters, but will float to all 11 libraries in Richland County as needed.
By placing a Public Health nurse in the library, DHEC will be better able to provide health education and vaccination services to the general public, particularly to low-income and homeless population groups that can be harder to reach. Catherine will also work with library staff to develop health-related programs and education classes, and will serve as a resource for parents to discuss their children’s health issues during library story times.
Thank you to Billy Wiggins, Melissa Barton, and Suzanne Sanders of our Richland County Health Team for working with Richland Library to make this innovative approach to service delivery a reality.
As the state’s public health department, one of our most important missions is to help health care workers, organizations and first responders prepare to effectively identify and safely respond to possible public health threats. While we hope that dangerous diseases such as Ebola never appear in South Carolina, we are constantly working collaboratively with our health care partners in every corner of the state to make sure we’re ready to respond quickly to these kinds of emerging public health concerns.
That’s why this week DHEC launched our new Health Preparedness Network (HPN) to help ensure that all individuals who might be touched by a public health emergency receive the latest, most accurate information and guidance to facilitate early detection and prevention of potential outbreaks in South Carolina. Unlike our existing Health Alert Network, which focuses only on updating health care providers, HPN allows first responders, health care providers, school employees, coroners and funeral home staff, and even members of the general public to sign up to receive real-time updates and guidance on an ongoing basis.
One of the major benefits of this new approach is that it allows DHEC to push out information more quickly and to a broader audience than ever before through one streamlined communications tool. Now DHEC will be able to reach the state’s entire healthcare infrastructure and first responders all at once, which will enable both health care workers and organizations to receive information as quickly as possible and make needed adjustments to their service delivery process immediately to safely care for potential patients.
Thank you to our Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology (DADE) and Public Health Preparedness (PHP) teams in central office and our regions who continue to work tirelessly to make sure that South Carolina is prepared to rapidly respond to potentially serious health threats like the Ebola virus. For more information about the new Health Preparedness Network or to sign up to receive updates, click here.
We are proud to announce that our Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity was recently recognized by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, along with the Center for Training and Research Translation, for their efforts to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the child care setting. Instrumental to this effort, Misty Pearson, our Early Care and Education Coordinator, initiated a partnership with the SC Department of Social Services to help address the prevalence of childhood obesity in South Carolina.
Through the voluntary ABC Grow Healthy program, Pearson and our team continue to work with partners across the state to improve the nutrition and physical activity environments of child care providers. Together, we have developed nutrition and physical activity-related standards for incorporation into the statewide ABC Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System (ABC Quality).
“We recognize that developing healthy behaviors early in life provides the foundation for lifelong wellness,” said Pearson. “Through working with our partners across the state we are able to reach our youth at a critical time in their development, providing them with the tools they need to succeed.” Continue reading →
This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 3,750 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 670 will die from the disease. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share with you a few of the great efforts our agency and individual staff members are taking to help increase access to screening services and raise awareness of this disease that impacts so many South Carolina families.
Best Chance Network
As many of you know, increasing access to services is one of our top priorities at DHEC and one of our most successful access initiatives is the Best Chance Network (BCN). BCN is collaboration between DHEC, the American Cancer Society, and more than 250 health care providers across the state. Working together, this year we’ve helped more than 11,000 low-income, uninsured women access potentially lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to them.
Women between the ages of 40 and 64 who do not have health insurance and who meet certain income guidelines are eligible for the program. I encourage each of you to take a moment to check out our BCN site to learn more about this important screening program and share the link with your friends and loved ones. Continue reading →
As part of her work at the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Shorus Manning travels to elementary schools across South Carolina to help students develop skills for making healthier food and lifestyle choices. Noting her professionalism and caring attitude, Parent Teacher Liaison Freddie Harrell recently took the time to share glowing remarks on Manning’s continued efforts to provide nutrition services to the students and teachers at JP Thomas Elementary.
“She is doing an excellent job here at our school,” said Harrell. “The teachers, as well as the students, love her and they look forward to working with her each year.”
During her most recent visit, Harrell explained, “The moment she walked up to the classroom there was an uproar because she remembered the students, and they remembered her, from kindergarten.”
Manning is a registered and licensed dietitian for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)-Education program with the Office of Professional and Community Nutrition Services here at DHEC. Working with stakeholders across the state, she provides nutritional education to individuals in a variety of settings, including elementary schools, head starts, senior centers, churches, and parks and recreation sites, among many others. Continue reading →