Monthly Archives: May 2016

TEAM SPARTANS moving the dial on teen pregnancy

By Maxine Williams, APRN, FNP, BC
Upstate Region Program Director

What better way is there to observe National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month than to recognize a county health department’s strong efforts to help reduce teen pregnancy?

To do that, we need look no further than the Spartanburg County Health Department. While no one entity or factor alone can be cited as the sole reason for the drop Spartanburg has seen in teen pregnancy rates, the county health department has done its part.

The health department has seen teenage pregnancy rates drop dramatically, due in part to a five-year grant that ended last year from the Centers for Prevention and Disease Control. While the goal was to reduce the teen pregnancy rate in the county by 10 percent, Spartanburg far surpassed that, reducing the rate 48 percent.

As it continued to work toward reducing rates, the health department participated in a learning collaborative throughout 2015 that gave it an opportunity to explore additional ways to effectively address teen pregnancy. Spartanburg was chosen for the collaborative, in part, because of its experience with addressing teen pregnancy via the CDC grant, which allowed the health department to build infrastructure in the community and take steps to increase teens’ access to services, among other things.

Spartanburg County Health Department, Upstate Region, was able to participate in the year-long experience thanks to funding from The Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of South Carolina. The funds were administered by the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Center for Health Services and Policy Research (USC CHSPR) at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. The SC Campaign and USC CHSPR are partnering to implement the South Carolina Adolescent Reproductive Health Institute to facilitate health clinics’ adoption of evidence-based practices that can improve teen pregnancy prevention outcomes.

Groups participating in the year-long experience devised strategies and concepts using continuous quality improvement, or CQI. TEAM SPARTANS — a name chosen by team members — developed measurable goals to improve teen service provision at the Spartanburg County Health Department.

TEAM SPARTANS implemented several innovative strategies, including assessing data to determine when teens accessed services the most and when availability of services needed to be increased to meet peak demand. As a result of these strategies, the health department was able to serve a caseload of 734 — a 36 percent increase from the previous year’s caseload of 537. The members of TEAM SPARTANS (pictured above, left to right) included Maxine Williams, Program Director; Stephanie Bobak, Operations Director; Kenya Farley, PHRN, PH Team Leader; and Mike Newman, Spartanburg County Site Supervisor.

Leadership Collaborative 3

As part of the year-long learning collaborative, Kenya Farley served on a panel to discuss TEAM SPARTANS’ project aimed at improving teen service provision.

Moving the dial downward on teen pregnancy is what National Teen Pregnancy Month is all about. Held each May, the month is set aside to raise community awareness and support of effective teen pregnancy prevention initiatives. The month also serves as a catalyst for year-round efforts to support effective pregnancy prevention strategies and programs.

U.S. teen pregnancy and birth rates have declined dramatically over the past two decades and are now at historic lows. There has been significant progress in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups. That said, U.S. rates of teen childbearing remain far higher than in other comparable countries, and continued education and access to services remain key to helping teens prevent unintended pregnancy.

The Spartanburg County experience illustrates continued vigilance to help move the dial.

Only Rain Should Go Down a Stormdrain

By Carol Roberts, DHEC Watershed Manager

Did you know that stormwater drains flow directly to our rivers, lakes, streams and ocean with little or no treatment? You might assume that any trash, pollutants or debris that washes into a storm drain gets sent to a water treatment plant and cleaned up, but it all goes right into water bodies where people swim, fish and recreate.

That’s why keeping storm drains pollution free is an important part of keeping our communities clean and healthy.

What is stormwater?

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain flows over the ground and flows into storm drains or nearby creeks, rivers and ponds. In natural, grassy areas, rain can usually soak into the ground and eventually back into the water table underground. This provides a natural filtering process. But if rain falls in heavy amounts or over impervious surfaces ( or surfaces water can’t get through, such as driveways, concrete sidewalks and asphalt streets) the rain is not able to  soak into the ground and creates stormwater runoff.

Reducing stormwater pollution

Stormwater picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other materials as it flows into our waterways. Common pollutants include trash, sediment, leaves, grass clippings, fertilizer, pesticides, animal waste (bacteria), residue from chemical spills or container overflows, vehicle drips and leaks, and detergents.

ARC-Stormwater-v1.png

Credit: Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, Atlanta, Georgia

Everyone can help prevent stormwater pollution. Here are some easy tips you can follow:

Pet Care

Pet waste contains harmful bacteria that can wash into recreational waters. Always pick up after your pet and dispose of pet waste in a trash can.

Never throw dog or cat feces or cat litter down a storm drain and never flush cat litter.

Litter Disposal

Litter that is thrown on the ground or out of a car window ends up in our water. Make sure to always dispose of trash in a trashcan or recycle it.

Auto Care

Never dump automotive fluids down a storm drain – it is the same as dumping them directly into your favorite swimming or fishing spot.

Repair leaks that can leave chemicals on driveways and streets, and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop-off or recycling locations.

Use a commercial car wash that treats or recycles its wastewater, or wash your car on your lawn/yard so the water infiltrates into the ground.

Lawn / Property Care

Sweep yard debris and trash out of the street so it doesn’t get washed into storm drains.

Reduce impermeable surfaces by using pavers or gravel on sidewalks and driveways that rain water can soak through into the ground.

Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly so they don’t wash into local streams – potentially harming wildlife and people. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.

For more information on stormwater, visit www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Water/Stormwater/

Sechler Named DHEC Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

Congratulations to Officer Dennis Sechler of the Shellfish Sanitation Program for being named DHEC’s 2015 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.

LEODSechlerOfficer Sechler, who works in the Myrtle Beach Office in the Pee Dee Environmental Quality Control Region, accepted the award on Thursday from Director Catherine Heigel.

“He constantly helps other agencies and works tireless hours with new employees to instill the same values he believes in, which is a commitment to excellence as a public servant and in government,” explained his supervisor Mike Marshall. “But more than anything else, Officer Sechler is an unbelievably caring person with more character, honor, and integrity than most can wish for.”

A member of the Regional Emergency Response Team and the field training officer for the Shellfish Program, Officer Sechler exemplifies our agency’s core values of promoting teamwork and embracing service.

He assisted in developing the Shellfish Law Enforcement Training Curriculum for new Shellfish Law Enforcement Officers that complete the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy. This includes both classroom and hands-on training for new officers.

The primary goal of our shellfish program is to ensure that shellfish and the areas from which they are harvested meet the health and environmental quality standards provided by federal guidelines and state regulations. The patrol activities conducted by our Shellfish Officers play an important role in helping the program meet its goals. These patrols are conducted on foot, by boat and on land vehicles.

In addition to his regular duties and conducting weekend, holiday and night-time patrols, Officer Sechler has assisted the S.C. Department of Natural Resources with fish and wildlife cases and the Coast Guard with removal of sunken vessels from waterways and marinas to ensure no pollution is released to harm the environment or public health.

Congratulations and thank you for your service, Officer Sechler!

Why You Need to Know About Hepatitis

By Linda Brown, MPH, DHEC Viral Hepatitis Prevention Coordinator

May is National Viral Hepatitis Awareness Month and, on May 19, South Carolina joins the nation in observing Hepatitis Testing Day. That day is set aside to emphasize the importance of being tested for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). It is estimated that between 70,000 and 85,000 people in South Carolina are living with chronic hepatitis C. According to the CDC, HCV killed more than 20,000 Americans in 2014.

What you don’t know can hurt

Because many people who are infected with hepatitis C are unaware of their infection, and it often doesn’t cause symptoms until it has caused advanced liver disease, getting tested is vitally important to curing and preventing the spread of this disease.

More than three million Americans in the U.S. have chronic hepatitis C, but as many as 50 percent don’t know they are infected.

This often silent but potentially deadly virus infects the liver, and most people can live with the infection for many years without feeling sick. By the time a person shows symptoms, they are often in an advanced stage of liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Am I at risk?

Hepatitis C is spread when blood from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Take the CDC’s simple risk assessment to help determine if you  should seek testing: www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/RiskAssessment/.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

One of the main groups that need to be tested for Hepatitis C are baby boomers – people who were born from 1945-1965. Seventy-five percent of people with hepatitis C were born during these years, so it is recommended that all baby boomers be tested at least one time in their lives, regardless of any other risk factors.

Another priority group that should get tested is anyone who has ever injected drugs into their body.

There’s a cure

New medications are available that are highly effective that can provide a cure within eight to 12 weeks. This is why DHEC staff, in collaboration with community partners, encourage people to talk to their health care provider about their risk for HCV.

Be #HepAwareARE YOU AT RISK? Millions of Americans have VIRAL HEPATITIS. Most don't know it. Take this online assessment to see if you're at risk. http://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/riskassessment/

Learn more about HCV, take the risk assessment quiz and talk to your healthcare provider about testing and treatment. Getting a simple blood test is a vital first step into knowing if you have hepatitis C and getting care and treatment if you need it. Visit www.cdc.gov/hepatitis.

 

 

Infographic1.jpg

Rid your homes, yards of places where mosquitoes breed

Although mosquito season isn’t in full swing, many of us have already seen — and others of us have felt (Ouch!) — evidence of the pesky insects in our surroundings.

But there’s still time to take actions that will limit the mosquito population and the possible spread of mosquito-borne diseases in our communities this season, and it begins by cleaning up around your own home and yard.

One of the most effective things you can do is get rid of and prevent standing water. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get rid of places where adult mosquitoes can find cool, dark and damp areas to rest by mowing the lawn, trimming shrubbery and cutting down weeds and vines, such as ivy, in the yard and next to the house.
  • Clear out weeds, leaves, dirt and other debris from pipes, especially those under a driveway. Make sure water does not stand inside or near the ends of the pipe.
  • Clean out rain gutters and downspouts regularly.
  • Empty and turn over containers that hold water such as cans, jars, drums, bottles, flower pots, buckets, children’s toys, wheel barrows, old appliances, plastic sheeting or tarps used to cover objects like grills or swimming pools, etc.
  • Drain or fill any low places, such as potholes, on your property where water collects and stands for more than five to seven days.
  • Make sure that all permanent water containers such as wells, septic tanks, cisterns, water tanks and cesspools are tightly covered and insect-proof.
  • Repair leaky pipes and outdoor faucets.
  • Cover trash containers/garbage cans to keep rainwater from accumulating.
  • Keep boats and canoes drained and covered/overturned. Make sure tarps or other covers do not hold water.
  • Drain or get rid of old tires by recycling them.
  • Pack tree holes and hollow stumps with sand or cement.

That’s just the beginning. There are a number of other steps you can take to defend yourselves against mosquitoes. To learn about treating standing water that can’t be drained and preventing mosquito bites, visit scdhec.gov/mosquitoes/eliminatebreedingareas.