Monthly Archives: March 2021

Program Spotlight: SC Adopt-a-Stream

World Water Day was observed this week on March 22. DHEC would like to take this opportunity to highlight the SC Adopt-a-Stream program.  

SC Adopt-a-Stream is a statewide, volunteer water quality monitoring program that is led by DHEC’s Bureau of Water and Clemson’s Center for Watershed Excellence.

The program educates and certifies citizens in protocols for collecting stream data. The program has a meaningful impact on citizen science because the data generated by SC Adopt-a-Stream volunteers helps to screen for water quality issues, show trends in water quality over time and can be used for educational purposes.  

SC Adopt-a-Stream was founded on the belief that people who spend the time to get to know their streams and waterways, through recreation or data collection, will want to work to protect them. The program is a fun, easy way to make a positive impact in your community and help the overall health of South Carolina waterways.  

If you are interested in becoming an SC Adopt-a-Stream volunteer or you simply want to learn more about the program, explore the website at

DHEC Highlights National Kidney Month

March is National Kidney Month. DHEC recognizes everyone living with kidney disease, healthcare professionals striving for treatment advancements and cures, and the renal dialysis facilities across South Carolina that continue to provide care to patients in need.

This year’s focus is self-sufficiency and helping people take charge of their health by educating themselves on the many factors that go into managing kidney disease.

In the past decade, the number of South Carolinians currently on dialysis and new cases has increased by 15%. Kidney-related deaths from nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis remain the 8th leading cause of death in the state. [BJ1] Many cases of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) go undetected for long periods of time and are often overlooked until moderate to severe symptoms appear. CKD is progressive and can put you at risk for serious health complications, including kidney failure.

Kidneys are vital to our health. While each is only about the size of a computer mouse, they filter all blood in your body every 30 minutes in order to remove waste, toxins, and excess fluids. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells, and keep your bones healthy. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more kidney-friendly tips and related information.

Follow these healthy lifestyle tips to take charge of your kidney health:

  1. Meet regularly with your health care team. Staying connected with your doctor, whether in-person or using telehealth via phone or computer, can help you maintain your kidney health.
  2. Manage blood pressure and monitor blood glucose levels. Work with your health care team to develop a plan to meet your blood pressure goals and check your blood glucose level regularly if you have diabetes.
  3. Take medicine as prescribed and avoid NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Your pharmacist and doctor need to know about all the medicines you take.
  4. Aim for a healthy weight. Create a healthy meal plan and consider working with your doctor to develop a weight-loss plan that works for you.
  5. Reduce stress and make physical activity part of your routine. Consider healthy stress-reducing activities and get at least 30 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
  6. Make time for sleep. Aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
  7. Quit smoking. If you smoke, take steps to quit.

It may seem difficult, but small changes can go a long way to keeping your kidneys and you healthier for longer!

For those currently afflicted with CKD and are looking for assistance in finding the right treatment plan or dialysis options, DHEC’s Healthcare Quality team strongly encourages those individuals to locate renal dialysis facilities near them by using our Find A Facility application. Contact information, licensing details, and a myriad of other data are available when searching through the GIS map.

Regulation 61-97, Standards for Licensing Renal Dialysis Facilities, was updated last year and its amendments became legally effective in the summer of 2020. The changes made to the regulation have allowed patients, families, renal dialysis facility staff, and our community to benefit from the improvements specified in the regulation. DHEC encourages the public to read the regulation to learn more about state-approved dialysis management, facility licensure requirements, current provider language, and a variety of useful information regarding our state-licensed renal dialysis facilities.

 [BJ1]Source, (most current data published by DHEC):

DHEC Celebrates National Athletic Trainers Month

March is National Athletic Training Month (NATM) and DHEC would like to celebrate how Athletic Trainers (ATs) across South Carolina impact healthcare and improve lives. Athletic Trainers are highly skilled healthcare professionals who provide preventative services, emergency care, therapeutic intervention, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions. ATs are educated on handling a myriad of medical events, including catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord injuries, sudden cardiac arrest, heat illness, and concussions. With over 1,050 state-certified Athletic Trainers working in South Carolina today, this is a career field that is steadily growing and yet still enigmatic to the general public.

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A year later, SC can’t let down its guard yet

Seema Shrivastava-Patel, S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control, District 2

When COVID-19 swept into South Carolina last March, the deadly disease proceeded to hit us with a gut punch. We did the only thing we could: joined hands and hit back with our initial plans to confront an unknown, rapidly evolving situation.

A year later, we’re still standing, together, fighting the worst pandemic our country has seen in over 100 years. With vaccines now available, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

We South Carolinians have been through a lot this past year.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials reported our state’s first two cases on March 6, 2020. Since then, the virus has sickened and killed many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors. None of us were exempt, my family included.

Our schools, businesses and hospitals have been severely tested. Our lives were disrupted: We went from working and worshipping side by side to being forced to not gather at all in many instances. A simple trip for groceries required wearing masks and keeping six feet apart.

It’s been a tremendous strain on our mental health, another challenge we must address, together.

As a member of the S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control, I am proud to say that, through it all, South Carolinians have had no greater champions than DHEC’s many skilled public health and environmental control professionals. The pandemic, like hurricanes, has caused broad complications that highlight the advantage and importance of having health and environmental functions working together under one agency.

Everything DHEC has done hasn’t been flawless. There is no perfection to be found when battling a killer, unpredictable pandemic; challenges arise that force you to create solutions as you go. But everything DHEC does comes from a good place and for a good purpose.

It’s all about people first: keeping South Carolinians healthy and alive.

While it’s the state’s lead public health agency, DHEC can’t beat COVID-19 alone. The Governor’s Office, the Legislature, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, South Carolina Emergency Management Division and other state agencies, National Guard, S.C. Hospital Association, hospitals and other providers, frontline workers, volunteers, citizens, and many faith and community partners have been critical to this fight and I thank you. Your selfless commitment to the health and safety of all South Carolinians is deeply appreciated.

DHEC continues to lead disease control activities and keep the public updated.

From collecting and analyzing data to developing statewide testing and contact tracing to drafting a vaccination plan, it’s been a long haul.

The agency’s commitment has been unwavering: 2,883 DHEC staff have worked 1,469,225 hours so far as part of the response. Still, the agency continued to provide critical health and environmental services many in our state depend on.

As of March 1, South Carolina has:

· Conducted more than 6 million tests through DHEC and other partners

· Increased contact tracing staff from 20 statewide before COVID-19 to more than 650

· Answered more than 292,000 calls to the CareLine and vaccination call center

· Given 1,003,558 COVID-19 vaccine shots

· Fully vaccinated 304,724 South Carolinians against COVID-19

· Held more than 33,000 testing events, with over 7,800 more scheduled through March 31

The priority now is vaccinating as many people as quickly as possible while ensuring that all South Carolinians, including those in rural areas, underserved groups, and minorities, are included.

We can’t lower our guards now. Please, stay safe and get tested. When it’s your turn, get vaccinated. Together, with all arms on deck, we can defeat COVID-19. We owe it to ourselves and the many we’ve lost to this dreaded disease.

Seema Shrivastava-Patel is a member of the S.C. Board of Health and Environmental Control and represents Congressional District 2.

DHEC recognizes World Hearing Day, March 3

World Hearing Day is recognized internationally every year on March 3 by raising awareness on ear and hearing care and deafness and hearing loss prevention. This year’s theme is “Hearing Care for All – Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate”.  The theme focuses on advocacy for hearing loss and diseases throughout all life stages, newborn to elderly.

Did you know:

Hearing loss prevention is quite simple:

  • Use earplugs in noisy environments.
  • Keep the volume down when using earbuds or headphones.
  • Learn what the warning signs are for hearing loss.
  • Have your hearing checked regularly, perhaps at a yearly physical.
  • Consult with an audiologist at the earliest sign of hearing loss. Generally, a hearing test is covered by insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare and is the first step to addressing an issue that could worsen without intervention.

In our capacity as a regulatory agency, DHEC serves to license hearing aid specialists. Hearing Aid Specialists (HAS) are healthcare professionals whose  job is to measure human hearing, usually adults, with an audiometer specifically to fit, make selections, adapt, or sell hearing aids. An individual would seek services from a hearing aid specialist if they need a hearing test, to purchase hearing aids, and for the programming and maintenance of hearing aids. The distinguishing difference between a hearing aid specialist and an audiologist is that the audiologist diagnoses and treats hearing related issues, and is required to have an advanced degree. An audiologist would be necessary if you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, ringing in your ears, or need assistance with hearing implant programming and aftercare such as cochlear implants. DHEC licenses hearing aid specialists, while the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation’s Board of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology licenses audiologists. To find a hearing aid specialist near you, search DHEC’s map of licensed health facilities and services here.