Author Archives: DHEC Public Health

World TB Day: “Unite to End” Tuberculosis

DHEC joins local, state, national and global efforts to control and eliminate tuberculosis by observing World Tuberculosis Day on today, March 24, 2017. This annual event commemorates the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB).

The purpose is to work together and celebrate the efforts of people all over the world that have found new ways to stop tuberculosis.

South Carolina TB rates below national average

Through increased awareness, prevention efforts, public health interventions, improved methods for early diagnosis, and assuring completion of treatment the number of TB cases in South Carolina has consistently remained below the national average for the six-year period covering 2011-2016.

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TB is preventable, treatable, and curable

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs, but it can affect other parts of the body. Persons with TB of the lungs can spread TB to other people by coughing, sneezing or speaking. Untreated active tuberculosis is a serious public health threat.

TB is treatable and preventable.  You can play an important role in eliminating tuberculosis in our community by understanding the signs and symptoms and helping to educate others.

The general signs and symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. The signs and symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain, and the coughing up of blood. The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

People with TB disease are most likely to spread the germs to people they spend time with every day, such as family members or coworkers. If you have been around someone who has TB disease, you should go see your family doctor, or call the public health department and ask to speak to a TB nurse.

World TB Day efforts

DHEC TB Control is focusing on three groups to commemorate World TB Day: the community, community partners, and public health professionals. The following activities are scheduled for World TB Day:

  • Community – The TB Control webpages have been updated with information regarding tuberculosis education, resources and activities in the community. For more information on TB and other public health issues, follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SCDHEC.
  • Community Partners – The second component of the initiative is partnering with various public health agencies representing HIV/AIDS, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, psycho-social issues, substance abuse and other illnesses to distribute information to the clients they serve. There are 31 external and three internal partners participating.
  • Public Health Professionals – Dr. Eric Brenner will give a public lecture titled, Tuberculosis: Local, National, and Global Public Health Perspectives from Noon to 1 p.m. in Room 331 of the Discovery Building, located at 915 Greene St. on the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus. The lecture will focus on TB from the complementary perspectives of biology and medicine, epidemiology, biostatistics, health services and policy, health promotion and education, environmental health, exercise science, and national and global public health.

​DHEC wins 2 awards for notable documents

Congratulations to our Environmental Quality Control team, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity & Obesity, and Creative Services for winning two South Carolina State Library Notable State Documents Awards.

Team DHEC was acknowledged for its work on two documents: Indoor Mold After a Severe Weather Event and South Carolina Healthy Comprehensive Planning Project.

S.C. Notable Documents Award

Left to right: Teresa Hill, Kelly Kavanaugh, Cristi Horne, Fran Marshall, Rhonda Thompson and Lawra Boyce.

The indoor mold document is an online topical document on indoor mold after the 2015 severe flooding and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. It is an easy-to-read guide on the potential health risks of exposure to indoor mold on certain populations, such as children younger than 12 or people with a weakened immune system.

Kudos to Fran Marshall, Lawra Boyce and Rhonda Thompson for accepting the award and to Cristi Horne, the designer.

The S.C. Healthy Comprehensive Planning Project supports county comprehensive plans that promote healthy eating and active living benefits through community planning statewide.

Kudos to Teresa Hill, Kelly Kavanaugh, and Lori Phillips for accepting the award and to Josh Laney, the designer.

The South Carolina State Library’s Notable State Documents List Award is given out annually. It is meant to call attention to the most informative documents released by state agencies each year.

DHEC is proud to be one of several agencies recognized not once but twice.

Happy Social Workers Month

March is Social Work Month, and we want to thank all social workers for what they do. We especially celebrate the dedicated social workers at DHEC who work so hard to make a difference in public health across the state.

Social workers stand up for millions of people each day. They stand up by comforting people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, ensuring they get the best care while on the road to recovery. They work in communities and with national, state and local government to provide services to stand with and help the most vulnerable.

Social workers are trained to look at situations in a holistic way.

Did you know that we have social workers in DHEC programs across the state, including Children with Special Health Care Needs, Tuberculosis Control, STD/HIV Prevention, Community teams, Children’s Health and Public Health Preparedness? Did you also know that while these social workers are located in specific programs, they are also available to assist our staff and clients, regardless of program or clinic?

Join us at DHEC in celebrating our 24 licensed social workers who stand up every day for the citizens of our state.

Upstate                                          Midlands                                          

Mary Haywood, LMSW             Linda O’Neill, LMSW

Rhonda Hipp, LMSW                Caroline Carman, LISW-CP/AP

Linda Markovich, LMSW         Brenda Johnson, LMSW

Lenora Talley, LMSW                Jourdan Coulter, LMSW

Joanne Hobbick, LMSW

Pee Dee                                        Lowcountry                                     

Suzanne Seay, LMSW                Kacey Schmitt, LISW-CP

Mary Golden, LMSW                  George Bush, LMSW

Rose Laney, LISW-CP                Yvette Jeffries, LMSW

Ethel “Tina” Turner, LMSW     Lori Vaughn, LISW-CP

   Kerry Whetsell, LMSW

   Sophia Armstrong, LMSW

  Central Office

Lucy Gibson, LMSW

Lee Kirkpatrick, LMSW

Charmella Tyler, LMSW

Douglas Outlaw, LMSW

Vernita Wingate, LMSW

Make sure to visit this album to meet some of DHEC’s social workers. We appreciate all they do to uphold  the agency’s core values of embracing service, pursuing excellence and promoting teamwork!

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Boost Your Healthy Eating Habits This National Nutrition Month

By Adrianna Bradley

March is National Nutrition Month and DHEC has tips to help you make healthy food choices today.

“If you want to make the move toward eating healthier, choose one or two things to change,” said Phyllis Allen, MS, RD, state director of Public Health Nutrition. “Don’t instantly try to change everything you eat. When you make too many changes it will make it harder to stick with new habits.”

With this year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” DHEC is continuing its efforts in our communities teaching various age groups the importance of eating a well-balanced meal and living a more active lifestyle.

Healthy eating can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce the risk for a number of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. DHEC is actively working to decrease the number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease with programs like Cooking Matters. The program teaches adults how to prepare and shop for healthy meals on a limited budget.  Currently, the economic cost of obesity in South Carolina is an estimated $8.5 billion per year and growing.

“Parents are important role models for their children,” Allen said. “Set a good example by eating healthy and your children will eat healthy too.”

Tips to help develop better habits

Here are some tips to help you develop sound eating and physical activity habits. Remember, making small changes in your food choices can lead to better health.

  1. Eat breakfast: Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.12003
  2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
  3. Watch portion sizes: Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size.
  4. Be active: Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week.
  5. Fix healthy snacks: Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods.
  6. Get to know food labels: Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you eat or drink smarter.
  7. Get cooking: Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics.
  8. Dine out without ditching your goals: Plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Compare nutrition information, if available, and look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.
  9. Drink more water: Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.
  10. Cut back on added sugars: Foods and drinks with added sugars equal empty calories and little or no nutrition. Reviewing ingredients on the food label helps identify sources of added sugar.

National Kidney Month

It’s National Kidney Month. So, be kind to your kidneys.

The kidneys are hard-working organs that are vital to our health. While each is only about the size of a computer mouse, the kidneys filter all the 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.

You can protect your kidneys by controlling your blood pressure, staying physically active and losing weight, among other things. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more kidney-friendly tips and related information.

Those most at risk should get tested

It’s particularly important for those who have risk factors for kidney disease to ask their doctor about testing them to learn their kidney health. Each kidney is made up of millions of tiny filters that can become damaged over time by diabetes, high blood pressure or other causes, and stop working, a condition called chronic kidney disease.

The CDC notes that approximately 15 percent of US adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, which, in its early stages, has no signs or symptoms. The CDC recommends getting tested if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol, or are age 50 or older. You also should get tested if you are from a family with a history of chronic kidney disease.

Early detection and treatment for kidney disease can help prevent additional health problems.