Category Archives: Community Health

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.

Let’s commit to improving South Carolinians’ heart health

By Lilian Peake, MD
Director, Health Services

Cardiovascular disease is a leading killer of South Carolinians and many of these deaths are avoidable. Communities, employers, health professionals and families can all play a role in preventing this disease.

This is particularly important in South Carolina: In 2015, there were more than 50,000 hospitalizations for heart disease, at a cost of more than $3.2 billion.

South Carolina’s heart disease death rate is above the national average and higher than our neighbors, North Carolina and Georgia. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s State Health Facts, in 2014 the heart disease death rate in the United States was 167 per 100,000 people. In South Carolina the death rate is 8 percent higher than the US rate and 14 percent higher than in North Carolina (181.1, compared to 158.7).

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Dr. Lilian Peake

There are also disparities among groups affected. For example, the rate among African-Americans outpaces all others. The Palmetto State also has high rates of the conditions that lead to this disease, such as obesity and diabetes.

Much work has been done in an effort to turn the tide. We at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) consider our role key to helping achieve the level of improvement needed. Our vision is “Healthy people living in healthy communities.”

DHEC works with numerous community partners to improve cardiovascular health for all.

We assist in implementing CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs and train lifestyle coaches.

DHEC also offers a heart disease and stroke prevention program called WISEWOMAN. This is offered at no cost to eligible women ages 40 to 64. Women are screened for high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity; they obtain medical follow-up and referrals for abnormal screening results as well as referrals to free or low-cost community programs, such as workout classes, diabetes education, and free sessions with a personal health coach.

DHEC partners with the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health to facilitate the implementation of the state’s Obesity Action Plan through the SCaledown initiative.

We work with communities to encourage policies, systems and environmental changes that lead to improved access to healthy foods and active lifestyles. One example is the Farm to Institution program where we partner with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. We educate the public, partner with health systems, and design wellness programs statewide.

DHEC also funds the Quitline to help South Carolinians quit smoking.

Other organizations, including the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Chapter of the American Heart Association, A Million Hearts, the South Carolina Medical Association, the Heart2Heart Foundation and more are also doing admirable work in an effort to address this important health issue.

But there is much more work to do. We need your help. You too play an important role in improving heart health in South Carolina. And what better time to get started than this month — American Heart Month?

So what are some things you can do?

  • Commit to a healthy lifestyle — exercise daily, eat healthier and take medication as prescribed.
  • Stop Call 800-Quit-NOW for free nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to eligible South Carolinians.
  • Become a WISEWOMAN participant if eligible; call 800-227-2345 to see if you qualify.
  • Have your blood pressure checked.
  • Create physical activities such as walking or group exercise at work.

Obviously, there are many more actions we can take as employers, health care providers or families. With the right level of commitment, we can improve heart health in South Carolina. Will you help?

American Heart Month

By Tiffany A. Mack, MPH, CHES, CGW
SC PHASE Program Administrator
Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity & School Health

February is not only the month of love in which we celebrate Valentine’s Day, it is also American Heart Month. Raising awareness about heart health is key to combating heart disease, which is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm), each year more than 600,000 Americans die of heart disease, which accounts for 1 in every 4 deaths in the country.

Why heart health?

The heart is one of the most vital organs of the human body.  This muscle pumps blood through the circulatory system and supplies nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body.  Damage to the heart through poor lifestyle habits such as smoking, physical inactivity and diets rich in sodium and saturated fats can cause the heart to not function properly and result in heart disease.

Adults who suffer from chronic conditions have a much higher risk of developing heart disease.  Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than adults without diabetes; people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are three times more likely to die of heart disease; and people with high blood cholesterol have about twice the risk of developing heart disease than people with lower levels (source: DHEC Chronic Disease Epidemiology State of the Heart Fact Sheet, www.scdhec.gov/Library/ML-002149.pdf).

It is important to know that there are many ways heart disease can be prevented and treated to maintain a normal lifestyle, and prevent premature death and disability.

What is DHEC doing?

DHEC’s Division of Diabetes, Heart Disease, Obesity and School Health received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to focus on preventing obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke in 15 of the 46 counties in South Carolina.  The division is partnering with medical practices to adopt and implement policies and protocols for the improvement of patient health outcomes related to high blood pressure.

What can you do?

One of the best ways to celebrate American Heart Month is to get involved.  Know your numbers. Get routine screenings by your primary care physician to include checking blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol levels.

  • Eat smart. Reduce your sodium intake, and adding more fruits and veggies to your diet.
  • Move more. Add just 10 minutes of moderate activity twice a day.
  • At work you can go for a walk, take the stairs and/or bring a healthy snack to share with your colleagues.
  • Encourage your family and friends to follow your lead by practicing healthier habits for life.

There are many partner organizations that are participating in American Heart Month by conducting awareness and outreach events.  The Heart2Heart Foundation  has been hosting a Statewide Screening Day initiative.  This event was created through a collaboration with the Governor’s Office and SC DHEC.  Please visit StatewideScreeningDay.com and share this with your friends so they can take advantage of these free screenings!

For the remaining days of American Heart Month — and beyond — commit to learning about what you can do to promote heart health and raise awareness about heart disease and heart disease prevention.

More Information:

If you would like more information regarding heart disease and heart healthy tips, visit the DHEC website (www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/HeartDiseaseStroke/HeartDisease/) the CDC website (cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm) or the American Heart Association website (heart.org/HEARTORG/).

Morning News: Smart Mosquito Traps, Flu in Orangeburg, Boil Water Advisory, Random Acts of Kindness

News for February 17:

The high number of flu cases across South Carolina has led to visitation restrictions at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg County:

Testament to how widespread the flu is comes from none other than the hospital. The Regional Medical Center has restricted patient visitation temporarily because of influenza.

“We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases as the season has progressed,” RMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Samies said Wednesday. “To protect our patients and their families, we have closed the doors to all inpatient units and have restricted visitation to immediate family members over the age of 12 only. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to enter any of the inpatient units.”

Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Find a clinic near you.

A boil water advisory has been issued for Valley Public Service Authority Water System customers:

General Manager Calvin Smith advises the customers of the water system residing on Pinegrove Road, Old Chavous Road, Bailey Drive, Sapp Drive, Divine Drive, Pepper Branch Road, Scottsville Road, C.C. Camp Road, Storm Court and a portion of Storm Branch Road that the water service has been interrupted for emergency repairs due to an unforeseen waterline break on Thursday.

Find information on what to do in a boil water emergency here.

Have we found new high-tech way to fight mosquitoes? Microsoft is testing a “smart trap” to do just that:

A smart trap for mosquitoes? A new high-tech version is promising to catch the bloodsuckers while letting friendlier insects escape – and even record the exact weather conditions when different species emerge to bite.

Whether it really could improve public health is still to be determined. But when the robotic traps were pilot-tested around Houston last summer, they accurately captured particular mosquito species – those capable of spreading the Zika virus and certain other diseases – that health officials wanted to track, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Use this “kindness generator” for ideas on doing something great!