Monthly Archives: May 2015

Helping S.C. Stay EMS “Strong!” Celebrating our First Responders

By Jamie Shuster

Members of our EMS and Trauma team joined officials at the state capitol on May 19, 2015 in recognition of National EMS Week.

Members of our EMS and Trauma team joined officials at the state capitol on May 19, 2015 in recognition of National EMS Week.

May 20, 2015 marks National Emergency Medical Service for Children (EMSC) Day. Celebrated each year in conjunction with National Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Week, today is an opportunity to recognize our dedicated EMS practitioners and raise awareness about the importance of specialized care for children in the prehospital and acute care settings.

In South Carolina and across the nation, EMS workers play a critical role in the protection and health of our residents and visitors. Often the first line of defense, EMS workers perform life-saving services each and every day. In support of EMS Week 2015’s theme, EMS Strong, I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things that our team is doing to help South Carolina stay EMS Strong.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our Division of EMS and Trauma, South Carolina continues to make great strides in the provision of EMS services to individuals across all ages– from our eldest to our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. As part of these ongoing efforts we are working to:

  • Increase access to cardiac monitors and training for EMS providers throughout the state. Through a $1 Million grant from the Duke Endowment Foundation, we recently provided 20 EMS agencies across the state with 38 twelve lead cardiac monitors.
  • Improve response times in pediatric emergencies. Earlier this year we provided 12 ambulance agencies from across the state with pediatric response bags and training essential to quickly responding to critically injured infants and children — helping eliminate possible dosing errors and ensuring our paramedics our prepared to treat our state’s youngest patients. In addition we trained and certified, free of charge, 25 EMS providers in Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) so that they can provide further education and certification to our state’s first responders.  An additional class is being held, also free of charge, June 8th-9th to train and certify 25 more instructors in PEPP.

A big thanks to our EMS and Trauma team and our EMS practitioners for your continued work and efforts in protecting the health and safety of all South Carolinians.

Protect Your Skin!

By Betsy Crick

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May is Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, and DHEC wants you to be prepared before heading outdoors this summer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Most cases of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, either from the sun or from artificial sources like tanning beds.

Lower Your Skin Cancer Risk

To lower your skin cancer risk, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these easy options:

  • Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs
  • Wear sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays
  • Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher – and both UVA and            UVB protection
  • Avoid indoor tanning

Sunscreen Tips

  • Sunscreens are assigned an SPF number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
  • Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
  • Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

Knowledge is power – with these tips and tricks, your skin is sure to have a healthy, happy summer!

Splash into Summer!

By Jim Beasley

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You take your first step up and onto the diving board, a few carefully measured steps toward the end, bounce once or twice, soar freely into the air for a brief moment, then slice the surface of the cool, clear, clean water.

Swimming is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day in South Carolina. And you can thank DHEC’s Recreational Waters Program for the cleanliness and clarity of water at your local public swimming pool.

Our inspectors begin their visits to approximately 6,800 public swimming pools statewide beginning May 18, ensuring the pools’ chemicals are managed properly and other safety measures are being taken. This schedule includes checking any pool that is used by the public — municipal pools, summer camps, hotels and water parks. About 40% of the state’s public pools are along the coast.

New Technology

But the 2015 swimming season brings a new bit of technology to this process, as DHEC’s inspectors are now equipped with electronic tablets to record their pool inspection results. No longer will it be necessary to complete a paper report and send a copy for the pool operator. Instead, DHEC staff will email the reports, ensuring that everyone involved in the operation and care of the pool receives a digital copy of the results. Less paper; better for the environment.

How We Inspect 

When a DHEC staffer visits a public pool, the inspection involves testing water quality for appropriate chemical balance, making sure all required safety equipment is present and meets required standards, and making sure the overall operation and maintenance of the pool is in compliance with state regulations. Public pools are required to have a trained operator in charge — someone who knows the requirements and is able to keep the pool maintained for the safety of swimmers and staff.

Sometimes, our inspectors find problems indicating the pool is out of compliance and potentially endangering users. In the event that DHEC must close a public pool due to significant deficiencies found in the inspection, the electronic summary will indicate whether the pool may reopen as soon as corrections are made or that a re-inspection is required first. The objective is to help the pool operators make corrections in a timely manner so that the pool can reopen safely as soon as possible.

Safety Tips

There are also some steps you can take to keep your swimming experience safe. Here are few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t allow pool water into your mouth or swallow it.
  • Shower before swimming and wash your hands after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Take children for bathroom breaks and check diapers frequently. Change diapers in the bathroom — not at poolside. Never swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Watch children closely. They can drown in just seconds, and do so without much noise. Don’t rely on “water wings” or other inflatables in place of a life jacket or preserver.
  • Always use sunscreen (at least SPF with both UVA and UVB protection) to guard against sunburn.

Follow these sensible steps and every splash will be a good one!  To learn more about DHEC’s swimming pool and recreational waters program, please visit our website.

Honoring our nurses during National Nurses Week

By Cassandra Harris

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As National Nurses Week 2015 draws to an end, we celebrate the critical role that South Carolina’s nurses play each and every day in helping to promote and protect the health of our state.

Beginning each year on May 6th and ending on May 12th (Florence Nightingale’s birthday), National Nurses Week recognizes the contributions that nurses and nursing make to our community. At DHEC and nationally, public health nurses primary focus is to promote health and prevent disease for entire population groups.

Here at DHEC, our public health nurses ​focus on the health of the populations we serve. They are found in every community across the state, providing nursing care each and every day.  They work with individuals and families that compose the community, provide care to individuals of all ages in a variety of locations and from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, and work in our clinics, in patient’s homes, in schools, in jails and any other location where they can meet the needs of the individual or their family. Their commitment to improving the health within their communities is recognized within the agency and outside the agency.

Thanks to all of our nurses at DHEC, throughout South Carolina and across our nation, for your continued efforts to improve patient outcomes and ensure quality care.

DHEC Celebrates Lab Week

By Jamie Shuster

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Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is celebrated the third week of April each year by laboratory professionals around the country.  The primary focus is to bring attention to and highlight the importance of the work being done by laboratorians daily.

This national celebration gives us the opportunity to highlight the successes of DHEC’s Bureau of Laboratories (BOL), which provides diagnostic and reference laboratory services to DHEC clinics, hospitals, universities, and private providers. The BOL consists of two diagnostic divisions: the Chemistry and Microbiology Divisions.

Some of the team’s many recent accomplishments include:

  • A new condition, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), was added to the testing panel of Newborn Screening
  • Our Newborn Screening Laboratories operate six days a week, including Saturdays and holidays
  • Our laboratory is now certified and approved to test for Ebola, Malaria, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)

Each year, our lab team performs the following impressive number of tests and screenings, keeping South Carolinians healthy and safe:

  • 100,000 tests in support of maternal and child health programs
  • 150,000 tests for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • 5,000 tests for rabies
  • Testing for more than 90 percent of tuberculosis patients in South Carolina
  • Screenings to test all South Carolina newborns for metabolic disorders

The Bureau of Laboratories recently hosted a cookout and celebration and in honor of the team’s hard work and many accomplishments. Thank you to our entire BOL team for your continued commitment to helping keep South Carolinians healthy and safe.