DHEC works throughout the year to support healthy people living in healthy communities.
This includes teaming up with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for that agency’s S.C. Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) program during Trident United Way’s Day of Caring. SCORE collects oyster shells from 30 sites and then uses these oyster shells to create new oyster beds. In this way, DHEC and DNR work together to restore and enhance South Carolina’s coastal resources.
“This opportunity brings the community together from Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties to make a beneficial impact to our surrounding environment,” said Sean Briggs, Manager of DHEC’s Compliance and Enforcement Section of Ocean and Costal Resources Management. “By bagging these oyster shells and then later planting them into the environment, we’re contributing directly to the restoration of that environment.”
With an estimated over 300,000 bushels of shells consumed within South Carolina each year, Michael Hodges with DNR emphasized SCORE as a way of promoting conservation of the environment.
“The purpose of the program is to engage the public hands on restoration and foster environmental stewardship,” he said. “We’re always looking for new folks to come and volunteer with us. There are plenty of opportunities for the public to come help us create this new very valuable habitat.”
In the face of natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian that threatened to strike South Carolina last year, DHEC and entities such as the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) communicate with each other, patients, and the public about their respective storm efforts to better serve patients and their loved ones.
“The partnership between DHEC and hospitals in the state of South Carolina is vitally important,” said Justin Kier, DHEC’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with Bureau of Healthcare Planning and Construction. “Folks saw that through the messaging that was done through our online resources and our media resources, but also they saw that in their communities as well.”
More than 220 DHEC staff were activated around-the-clock leading up to, during, and after this storm event in 2019.
During the response to Hurricane Dorian, DHEC staff helped coordinate the safe evacuation and re-entry of more than 7,000 patients from 175 regulated health care facilities impacted by the Governor’s mandatory medical evacuation order, including
25 nursing homes, and
92 assisted living facilities
“We help bring DHEC together with hospitals to make sure that hospitals are aware and understand their requirements to evacuate patients and get them to safer areas,” saidMelanie Matney, SCHA System Chief Operating Officer.
This coordination is an example of the agency demonstrating leadership and collaboration with entities such as the SCHA. In addition, DHEC employees embrace service every day.
This commitment is further highlighted during emergency events such as a hurricane, in which hundreds of DHEC staff work together with our partners to directly assist in preparing for and responding to the storm while others volunteer and/or take on extra duties to ensure that our day-to-day operations remained intact.
Learn more about DHEC’s response efforts to Hurricane Dorian.
The start of a new year brings New Year’s resolutions, many of which are related to improving our health. Let DHEC help you find the healthcare facilities that can assist you with your resolutions by using our Find a Facility interactive map.
Accessible on any Internet-connected device, Find a Facility is an interactive map identifying all DHEC-licensed healthcare facilities. The map allows users to search for specific facilities or filter facility types based on the user’s preferences.
Licensed healthcare facilities available in the map:
Adult Day Care Facilities
Ambulatory Surgical Facilities
Body Piercing Facilities
Community Residential Care Facilities
Hearing Aid Specialists (permanent and temporary)
Home Health Agencies
Hospice Facilities and Programs
Intermediate Care Facilities (15-bed and +16-bed building types)
In-Home Care Providers
PSAD Facilities (inpatient and outpatient types)
Renal Dialysis Facilities
Residential Treatment Facilities for Children and Adolescents
“This application is designed to help individuals conduct their own research on healthcare facilities and services,” said Gwendolyn Thompson, interim deputy director of Health Regulation. “Whether seeking a licensed tattoo facility or trying to find an in-home care provider, this map makes it easy to find important information all in one place.”
Clicking a pin on the zoomable map opens a detailed window for an individual facility that provides the following information:
Facility physical address
Facility phone number
Facility administrator’s name and direct phone number
Facility email address (multiple, if applicable)
Facility license number and expiration date
County and ownership type of facility
Facility mailing address
Facility licensee name, if different than facility name
Licensed room capacities, if applicable, including:
Certified number of operation rooms
Certified number of endoscopy rooms
Certified number of procedure rooms
Regulation(s) that the facility complies with
Find a Facility is a public-use, interactive map and database, developed as a result of joint efforts between DHEC’s Health Regulations and GIS teams.
“This free application allows us to share our resources with the community at large,” said Veronica Moore, GIS program manager. “We encourage healthcare facilities, medical professionals and the general public to take advantage of the application and the valuable data it offers.”
January is National Radon Action Month, and DHEC is encouraging all South Carolinians to test their homes for radon.
Radon is a cancer causing, radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste, and is responsible for more than 21,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Smokers who are exposed to radon have an even higher risk of lung cancer.
Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Any home can have a radon gas problem. The only way to determine if your home is trapping radon is to test.
Each year, the South Carolina Radon Program provides a limited number of radon test kits to homeowners free of charge. Request your free home test kit at www.scdhec.gov/radon.
Homes can be modified to reduce radon levels, and new homes can be built with radon-resistant features. South Carolina has nationally certified radon professionals who can measure radon and fix homes with elevated radon. Find a certified mitigation specialist.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued an official proclamation recognizing January 2020 as Radon Action Month.
January 9 is National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and DHEC wants to take a moment to honor all of the employees that serve in this role.
“Protecting our citizens’ health and the environment from those who will intentionally do harm is the primary mission of our DHEC Law Enforcement programs,” said Michael Tempel, DHEC Chief of Office of Law Enforcement for Environmental Affairs and Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Chairman. “Our officers and support staff work tirelessly to make sure our citizens are safe and violators are held accountable. I appreciate all their efforts and am proud to serve with them all.”
The agency has three law enforcement units:
Bureau of Drug Control
Office of Criminal Investigation
Shellfish Sanitation Program
Bureau of Drug Control (BDC)
DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control (BDC) serves a regulatory role as well as provides enforcement of the South Carolina Controlled Substances Act. Our BDC inspections are pharmacists who have undergone additional training through the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy to become state law enforcement officers.
They conduct onsite inspections and audits of pharmacies, hospitals and practitioners to make sure they are properly recording, storing and handling controlled substances. These important members of our Health Regulation team make recommendations and offer assistance to help these entities follow proper procedures in handling these medications.
BDC inspectors respond to complaints and concerns reported to DHEC that sometimes indicate criminal activity or misuse of controlled substances. When warranted, they also make arrests.
In 2019, DHEC’s BDC had approximately 28,000 controlled substance registrants, and the drug inspectors typically conduct 750 to 850 annual inspections. DHEC’s inspectors work closely with local law enforcement, the DEA, and the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in their ongoing fight against the misuse of controlled substances.
Office of Criminal Investigation (OCI)
The three-person Office of Criminal Investigation (OCI) team is responsible for investigating grossly negligent, willful and knowing violations of state and federal environmental criminal laws.
Investigations generally involve criminal violations of:
the Hazardous Waste Management Act,
Pollution Control Act,
Solid Waste Policy and Management Act,
State Safe Drinking Water Act,
Infectious Waste Management Act
and other general and related crimes.
Frequently, other crimes are uncovered during the investigation of environmental crimes, such as complex conspiracies, fraudulent schemes, and falsification of documents. OCI works closely with state and federal prosecutors to bring those responsible for all of these crimes to justice.
Shellfish Sanitation Program
The Shellfish Sanitation Program is a health and environmental protection program with three major responsibilities:
classification of the waters used for the growing and cultivating of molluscan shellfish,
certification and inspection of facilities that process and
distribution of shellfish and the patrol of those areas that are determined to be unsuitable for the harvesting of shellfish.
The 10-officer team primarily operates in the state’s coastal counties but conducts operations as needed throughout the state.
The DHEC Shellfish Sanitation officers also work closely with counterparts in the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Much of their work is performed outside of regular office hours on the coastal waters of the state.
Whether on the drug enforcement or members of our environmental affairs team, the officers that make up these three DHEC units Embrace Service and showLeadership and Collaboration. Thank you again for helping to promote and protect the safety and health of our communities.