Monthly Archives: May 2021

DHEC Recognizes National Trauma Awareness Month by Highlighting Healthcare Quality Programs

May is National Trauma Awareness Month, and the American Trauma Society (ATS) has deemed this year’s theme “Safe & Secure: Safety is a Choice, Prevention is Key.”   

Most injuries are preventable, and it takes us as individuals to be aware of our surroundings, informed of current practices and methods, and encouraging others to practice safety and prevention. Luckily, DHEC has a number of employees who have dedicated their careers to teaching the public and healthcare providers what it means to prevent injury and traumas.  

Child Passenger Safety Program  

Did you know that DHEC has a Child Passenger Safety Program? Its purpose is to educate parents and the community, public health offices, and partner organization on how to properly install various child safety seats, including booster seats, to prevent child trauma in vehicular accidents.  

Child Passenger Safety Technicians will explain potential dangers for children who are not properly restrained and will serve as a valuable resource for child passenger safety. Karen Moore is a Child Passenger Safety Technician and partners with Safe Kids Worldwide.  

Healthcare Systems and Services  

DHEC’S Bureau of Healthcare Systems and Services is doing great work with South Carolina’s healthcare providers and the community. Within the bureau is the division of EMS, which is gearing up for EMS Week, May 16th-22nd, 2021.

Each day during EMS Week has a different theme, and May 19th is EMS for Children Day. Karen is also the interim manager for Emergent Care and coordinates the EMS for Children program at DHEC. She is actively involved with the mission to improve performance measures and healthcare outcomes for children through education and training for EMS personnel and hospital providers.  

EMS for Children 

The EMS for Children program focuses on prevention in many, if not all, of its initiatives.  

The program holds an annual Pediatric Trauma & Injury Prevention Symposium as a collaboration with the South Carolina Trauma Association. This year marked the 11th annual symposium, which was held in early March. Presentations and topics varied from pediatric burn prevention, traumatic brain injury among children, to new advances in early trauma management.  

This training helps providers in the field stay up to date with the latest data, equipment advances, and prevention & treatment protocol.  

Stop the Bleed 

Also among EMS for Children’s initiatives is the Stop the Bleed program, which has its own observance on May 20th during EMS Week (May 16-22).  

Stop the Bleed is an annual observance that focuses on training the public how to stop traumatic bleeding. Participants will learn how to apply pressure to a wound, pack a wound to control bleeding, and apply a tourniquet.  

The training is open to anyone and offered by a number of organizations; DHEC partners with the American Red Cross. Being trained to Stop the Bleed can mean preventing further injury or death for a traumatically injured person waiting for help from professionals. To find out more about the Stop the Bleed campaign, click here to visit their website.  

In observance of National Trauma Awareness Month, we’ve highlighted a few ways DHEC is working to prevent injury, disability, and fatal outcomes in the community. Please check out the links to learn more. 

By providing trainings and information on these trauma prevention methods, DHEC displays the core value of Promoting Teamwork and the agency strategy of Education and Engagement.  

National School Nurse Day is May 12: Championing the Whole Student

National School Nurse Day
May 12, 2021
School Nurses: Championing the Whole Student

Picture of a nurse and a student

Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses.

National School Nurse Day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week and school nurses are honored for the work they do in advancing the well-being, academic success, and lifelong achievements of students by providing access to care in the school environment.

Picture of school nurses from Newberry School District.
School nurses from Newberry School District: on the far left is Tricia Ulch, BSN, RN, School Nurse Coordinator, recipient of the 2019/2020 DeeDee Chewning School Nurse Administrator of the Year Award. The winner for the 2020/2021 school year has not been announced yet.

The 2021 theme for National School Nurse Day is “Championing the Whole Student.”

This theme recognizes the integral role that school nurses play bridging health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotion development, regardless of whether they are physically present in school or not.

School nurses serve as a critical health hub for students, ensuring that students are ready for learning by managing complex chronic conditions; identifying and addressing mental health issues; leveling the field on health disparities and promoting healthy behaviors; enrolling children in health insurance and connecting families to healthcare providers; handling medical emergencies; and now, navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic by testing, tracking and vaccinating students and school personnel.

School nurses act as a liaison to the school community, families, and health care providers on behalf of children’s health.

School nurses champion the whole student every day of the year. But, on National School Nurse Day, we take special time to celebrate and recognize the contributions that school nurses are making to the health and learning of our nation’s 50 million children.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed a proclamation earlier this month recognizing May 12 as School Nurses Day in South Carolina.

Governor's Proclamation declaring May 12 School Nurses Day
Governor Henry McMaster’s Proclamation

National Skilled Nursing Care Week is May 9-15

National Skilled Nursing Care Week is May 9-15, and this year’s theme is “Through the Seasons.” The number of hours and self-sacrifice skilled nurses have contributed to long-term care is nothing short of heroic, and DHEC cannot thank them enough for their dedication to South Carolina’s communities.  

As the regulatory oversight of skilled nursing facilities, DHEC is proud of the continued flexibility and professionalism that South Carolina’s skilled nurses have displayed throughout the ever-evolving response to the pandemic. COVID-19 has certainly presented challenges that our skilled nurses could not expect. However, it was with their knowledge and experience, that they rose to the challenge and overcame obstacles.  

Established by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) in 1967, this observance is used to celebrate and recognize skilled nurses and their crucial role in healthcare, providing care for one of America’s most vulnerable populations. The week is the perfect opportunity to thank a skilled nurse for their unwavering dedication to the career and the community’s elderly. 

Please join DHEC in celebrating the devotion and compassion these valuable healthcare professionals have exemplified throughout the past year and “Through the Seasons.” 

DHEC Celebrates National Nurses Week; 2020 Palmetto Gold Winners

May 6 through May 12 is National Nurses Week, and some of our lead nurses wanted to take the opportunity to thank the more than 1,000 amazing nurses that work with DHEC.   

“Today and every day, we are proud to celebrate and honor our DHEC nurses,” said Rebecca Morrison, State Director of Public Health Nursing. “Through leadership, innovation, teamwork, and service excellence, our DHEC nurses promote and protect the health of the citizens of South Carolina.”  

She especially wanted to honor the 2020 Palmetto Gold award winners. 

“In this unprecedented past year, our public health nurses met the challenge to combat the pandemic on the frontlines of health care,” Rebecca said. “Additionally, they are also recognized by our professional peers through the prestigious annual Palmetto Gold nursing awards.” 

Started in 2002, the Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition and Scholarship Program has annually honored nurses statewide and raised money to provide scholarship for nursing students. You can learn more about the program by clicking here.   

“Thank you to the seasoned public health nurses, who during COVID, have been stretched to cover their primary programs and clinics along with picking up new duties to oversee and lead the region in COVID response,” said Pat Barrett, one of the 2020 Palmetto Gold winners. 

She is also the Regional Nursing Director for the Midlands. 

“Thank you to the new public health nurses who started with DHEC prior to or during COVID and whose orientations to their hired program areas were impacted or sidelined due to the need for assistance in COVID,” said Kate McBride, Reginal Nursing Director for the Pee Dee. “I appreciate your flexibility and willingness to stick with us.” 

Leah Dawkins, Regional Nursing Director for the Lowcountry, thanked the hourly and contract nurses who joined DHEC to assist in the COVID-19 response. 

“We appreciate your fresh insights and your ability to jump in and hit the ground running,” Leah said. “Together, you have completed Epi COVID Case Investigations and brought COVID mass testing and COVID vaccine to our underserved communities. These accomplishments would not be possible without our new teams of hourly and contract nurses.” 

Shenicka McCray, Regional Nursing Director for the Upstate, said 2020 helped shine a light on the contribution of nurses to public health.  

“This past year, each of us have faced many challenges, both personally and professionally, but we have also had the opportunity to tap into and highlight the best of public health,” Shenicka said. “And the best of public health is seen in each of our public health nurses right here at DHEC. Thank you all. Without your commitment, ingenuity, and high standards for excellence, we would not be the success that we are today.” 

Please enjoy the video and join this team in showing appreciation for our DHEC nurses. They truly demonstrate the agency’s core value of Embracing Service and the strategy of Leadership and Collaboration.  

Palmetto Gold Winners 

  • Shaniqua Dawn Alston 
  • Pat Barrett 
  • Debra Cain  
  • Jennifer Donehue 
  • Lynn Foster 
  • Sheryl Gardner 
  • Fran Hall 
  • Marnie Johnson 
  • Crystal Keith 
  • Lindsey Odell 
  • Amy Painter 
  • Debra Ray 
  • Elizabeth Reynolds 
  • Emily Way 

May 5 is World Hand Hygiene Day: Good Hand Hygiene Is A Life Saver

As DHEC and other public health agencies across the country have responded to COVID-19, one of the key prevention steps – in addition to wearing masks and physical distancing – has been the practice of good hand washing. That’s because clean hands save lives. 

The practice is so important that on May 5 of each year we observe World Hand Hygiene Day. 

Good hand hygiene is the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). 

It’s a way of reminding everyone – particularly health care workers – that hand cleanliness plays a key role in preventing HAIs. Up to 70 percent of HAIs that occur yearly could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include proper hand washing. 

The key elements for keeping hands clean are soap and water or hand sanitizer. 

Soap and water 

Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled and/or when working with a patient or an environment in which you may come into contact with contaminants.

The amount of time for proper hand washing with soap and water varies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds (depending on the study), so hands should be vigorously scrubbed for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Hand sanitizer 

An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly dirty because it:

  • Is more effective at killing potentially deadly germs on hands than soap; 
  • Requires less time; 
  • Is more accessible than hand washing sinks; 
  • Reduces bacterial counts on hands; 
  • Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water. 

Whether it is using traditional soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper handwashing must continue to be emphasized by all champions of infection prevention as a constant in the fight to prevent disease spread and saving lives. 

Click here to view a video on why good hand hygiene is important now more than ever.