Monthly Archives: January 2015

Robin Mack Recognized for Excellence in Customer Service

By Cassandra Harris

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(Photo Courtesy: Office of the Governor)

As Asbestos Section Manager for the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Robin Mack works with a wide spectrum of clients across the state to help ensure that all safety regulations concerning the removal of asbestos are carefully adhered to. Ever-changing, Mack’s daily tasks and responsibilities range from speaking with clients over the phone, conducting site visits, working with local municipalities, and helping individuals and businesses better understand state and federal regulations.

Working hands-on with South Carolinians across the state to find meaningful and innovative solutions to each new challenge, Mack recently joined a small group of her peers for a recognition lunch and round table discussion with Governor Nikki Haley. Representing “the best of the best,” this select team of public servants epitomizes the exemplary customer service that is expected of the State of South Carolina.

“Dynamic in nature, everyIMG_4007 day there is a different challenge to solve and a variety of different customers to work with,” said Mack. “Being able to work with customers to help resolve their challenges, which are our challenges, is the most rewarding part of my job.”

Mack’s creative problem solving skills were put to the test this past year following a fire that damaged several Front Street properties in Georgetown, SC. Recognizing that property owners were faced with limited funds, she remained on site for two weeks, engaging multiple stakeholders, and offering alternative approaches to help minimize their costs. During this time, Mack facilitated the work that a consultant would normally do, saving the property owners money and ensuring that the work was done efficiently and effectively.

Thanks to Mack and all of the members of our Asbestos team for your continued efforts to help protect the health and safety of South Carolinians.

Putting the Rad back in Radiological Health

By Jamie Shuster

Rad Health

Responsible for protecting the public health and safety of all South Carolinians, our Bureau of Radiological Health (BRH) works to safeguard against excessive exposure to radiation. As part of this effort, the Bureau provides oversight and regulatory guidance to mitigate potential hazards in environments, like X-ray, tanning facilities and facilities that utilize radioactive materials that use ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

The effects of radiation exposure and contamination can be severe, including acute radiation syndrome, skin burns, cancer, and emotional and psychological distress. Through working hands on with the regulated community, BRH Director Aaron Gantt and his team help to keep South Carolinians safe by ensuring all facilities that use radioactive materials, X-ray and tanning facilities, are registered, licensed, certified, and inspected.  Noted for their professionalism and customer services, the team often receives complements for the job they do upon inspections, responding to complaints/ incidents, phone calls, and emails.

Recently, the entire BRH team was applauded for their efforts by a Director of Radiology at one of the facilities that we help regulate. In an excerpt from a letter to the department, the director wrote:

“Your administrative staff on the switchboard, who is the first contact most callers get when they contact DHEC, is always friendly and helpful.  I have never had the opportunity to call SC DHEC when I have not received helpful advice. They are not obtrusive, are mindful of the work going on around them at the facility, and work with the staff to get their job done without holding up patient care.  I have never had hesitancy in telling my peers to call SC DHEC if they have questions. You guys are the “Good Guys”, out to help us maintain ALARA at our facilities in the best interest of our customers, our patients.” ​

Thanks to all of the members of our BRH team for your continued efforts to help protect the health and safety of South Carolinians.

South Carolina continues to improve in the prevention of healthcare-associated infections

By Cassandra Harris


Among the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients develop while receiving healthcare treatment for other conditions. To help reduce the rate of HAIs, DHEC is working with a public-private partnership of health care professionals, state agencies, and health care associations to promote better infection control.

Recent data indicates that South Carolina is making substantial progress in reducing the rate of these infections. One of the most significant improvements from 2012 to 2013 is another 7% reduction in central line-associated bloodstream infections. South Carolina’s rate of infection is now 43% below the national benchmark. In 2013, these infections in adult and pediatric intensive care units were more than 45% below the national baseline data. In addition, South Carolina has become one of the first states to mandate reporting of ventilator-associated events (VAEs)—helping to promote accurate reporting of data.

While South Carolina continues to make strides in the prevention of HAIs, there is still much work to be done towards reaching the ultimate goal of eliminating preventable HAIs. Research shows that when health care facilities are aware of their infection issues and implement concrete strategies to prevent them, rates of certain hospital infections can be decreased by more than 70 percent. Working together, we can make a difference. ​

Making a PACT for prevention: Raising Awareness about Birth Defects

By Vinita Oberoi Leedom​, SC Birth Defects Program Manager


Every year in South Carolina, approximately 1,800 infants are born with a birth defect. That means roughly 1 in 33 babies born in our state each year will have a birth defect. Babies who survive and live with birth defects are at an increased risk for developing many lifelong physical, cognitive, and social challenges.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is joining the National Birth Defects Prevention Network (NBDPN) this January, National Birth Defects Prevention Month, to raise awareness of the prevalence of birth defects and strategies that reduce the risk of birth defects and their complications.

Although not all birth defects can be prevented, all women who could become pregnant or are pregnant can lower their risk of having a baby with a birth defect by following some basic health guidelines throughout their reproductive years. This includes, “making a PACT for prevention”:

Plan ahead.

  • Get as healthy as you can before you get pregnant.
  • Get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

Avoid harmful substances.

  • Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking.
  • Be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.

Choose a healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low fat dairy, lean proteins, and healthy fats and oils.
  • Be physically active.
  • Work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.

Talk to your doctor.

  • Get a medical checkup.
  • Discuss all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
  • Talk about your family history.

Efforts to raise awareness of this prevalent issue help to provide hope for reducing the overall number of birth defects. The South Carolina Birth Defects Program has resource materials available on our website to assist you in raising awareness of birth defects as a public health issue in your community. For more information about birth defects, please click here.

New mobile farmers market service coming to DHEC

By Jamie Shuster

DHEC mobile farmers market

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to start eating healthier. So beginning this Monday, January 5, we’ll be offering a weekly, mobile farmers market at three of our Central Office locations to help our busy staff buy fresh, seasonal groceries from the convenience of their workplace.

How will it work?

Each week, we’ll be sending out an email alerting staff that the mobile farmers market has arrived onsite. We’ll also offer a tasty, seasonal recipe courtesy of our WIC nutrition staff that you can use to prepare affordable and healthy meals for your family.

Below is a list of the expected times that Charles Jumper, aka “The Veggie Man,” from Jumper Farm will be onsite with his mobile market:

  • Sims/Aycock – Mondays between 1:30 and 2:30 PM
  • Mills/Jarrett – Mondays between 2:30 and 3:30 PM
  • Columbia Mills – Fridays between 1:30 and 2:30 PM

For more details on the types of seasonal items that may be offered, as well as average prices, check out the Jumper Farm pricing sheet (cash or checks accepted). We’ve also created a quick “Keeping it Fresh” guide to help you store and prepare your fresh produce each week.

I hope our new mobile farmers market service will help inspire a healthier start to 2015 for you and your family. Happy New Year!