Category Archives: DHEC In the News

Midlands Community Health Workers have reached vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 response

Early in the COVID-19 response, the Midlands Region recognized the need to get messaging out to sometimes hard-to-reach, vulnerable populations such as the elderly, Hispanic, migrant camps, homeless, African-American and Native American. In order to better serve this need, the first Community Health Workers (CHW) came on board in May.   

A CHW is someone who has an intimate knowledge of the community and its people as well as a trusted member of that community.   

“Not only do I engulf myself into my community, but I also can make a positive impact for people,” Layla Zarif said. “I love that my job lets me spend more time in a county that I am so in love with.”   

That relationship allows the CHW to reach those who may not be reached in other ways and to become a liaison between these populations and community resources, including DHEC and other health agencies.   

“I love being a CHW because I enjoy helping people, relationship building, community collaboration and helping to connect people with resources and access to care,” Hazel Lowman said.  

While the CHW’s were hired for COVID response, they are quickly becoming an integral part of the outreach efforts in the Midlands.

They are promoting testing sites and sharing COVID-19 materials and information with businesses, organizations and individuals. They are also participating in community events and developing relationships at an individual level.   

To better help them build the trust that is essential to their jobs, they also share other important information in addition to COVID. They have been involved with food box giveaways, promoting the Census, assisting with WIC and medical appointments and many others. 

From their interactions, the region has learned of additional languages that materials should be translated into and how to integrate services into specific populations or neighborhoods, to name a few.   

“I became a CHW when I saw that our communities, states, country and entire world was in desperate need of trustworthy education and guidance to take control of health advocacy in the midst of a pandemic,” Katherine Brown said. “Now I can see that even without a pandemic our communities need passionate CHWs who are here for the people to help guide individuals and families to a healthier life.”   

Taylor Houser sees herself as part of a team addressing the needs of the communities that she serves.    

“Being a Community Health Worker allows me to play my part in bettering the lives of those around me and better myself through continuous education and exposure to new ideas and information,” she said. 

The CHW’s in the Midlands have become an important part of the Community Systems Team, collaborating with the core team and the outreach team on a seamless approach to this work.  Each part of the team has its own role, but all work together toward an overall goal of reaching the greatest number of people. 

CHW’s enter the field for many reasons, but the overarching quality is a strong desire to serve others.   

“Simply put, there is more happiness in giving than in receiving and showing compassion to the least of these my brothers as a Good Samaritan provides riches that money cannot buy,” Bruce Wright said.   

Help Camp Burnt Gin Win “Best of Sumter” Title

Camp Burnt Gin, DHEC’s residential camp for young people with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses, has been nominated for the Best of Sumter awards. Voting for this recognition event sponsored by The Sumter Item is open until February 29, 2020.

Located in Wedgefield, SC, Camp Burnt Gin is a service of DHEC’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau/Division of Children with Special Health Care Needs and has operated since 1945. Staff members, in a ratio of one for every two campers, reside with the campers and assist them throughout a six-day session of activities. 

“The learning opportunities and experiences provided by the camp are invaluable,” said Camp Burnt Gin Director Marie Aimone.. “Camp Burnt Gin helps children to improve their social skills, self-esteem and independence. The camp’s activities are not only fun but help develop skills for a healthy, active lifestyle.”  

This summer’s sessions operate from June to August, and programming focuses on three age groups: 7-15, 16-20 and 21-25. Activities include swimming, arts and crafts, sports, and nature learning, and skits, carnivals, dances, and treasure hunts are part of special evening events. 

Click here to help Camp Burnt Gin claim this title!

How Can Campers Apply?

The camp is also accepting applications for the 2020 season.

“Camp Burnt Gin offers a variety of activities for children, teens and young adults who might not otherwise have a camping experience because of their health care needs,” Aimone said. “Some of the campers we serve live with physical disabilities like orthopedic conditions, hearing loss, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, cerebral palsy and craniofacial conditions.”

Camp Burnt Gin is seeking staff for the 2020 season, too, including counselors, activity specialists, waterfront assistants and nurses. 

“Working at Camp Burnt Gin is an excellent opportunity for someone planning a career in education, health-related professions or social services to gain experience,” said Thomas Carr, a seven-year staff member at the camp. “You come to Burnt Gin with the desire to make a difference in the life of a young person, but what you don’t realize is how much you can learn from the campers on a professional and personal level.”

The deadline for campers to apply for Camp Burnt Gin’s 2020 season is March 1. To apply as a camper or staff member, contact Marie at 803-898-0784 or campburntgin@dhec.sc.gov.

For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/campburntgin.

DHEC and DNR Work Together to Restore Oyster Beds

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 BriggsManager 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.”

To learn more about SCORE or sign up to volunteer

Engaging in projects such as this one demonstrates DHEC’s core value of promoting teamwork and shows the agency strategy of science in action.

DHEC In the News: Flu season is here, Sand mine permits, Dispose of Vaping Devices

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

Is it too early to be thinking about flu season? The CDC says no

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WLTX.com) It may still feel like summer outside, but the seasons will change in a few weeks. Influenza viruses circulate all year, but flu activity usually begins to pick up in October and peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

DHEC considering sand mine permit in Cottageville

WALTERBORO, S.C. (The Press and Standard) A proposal to establish a sand mine in the Cottageville area will be the topic of a South Caroline Department of Health and Environmental Control public hearing next month. The public hearing on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Cottageville Elementary School, 648 Peirce Rd., will give residents an opportunity to voice their comments and views about MC Dirt Co. LLC of Summerville’s permit application.

Want to Get Rid of Vaping Devices? Now You Can Hand Them Over to the Feds

SACRAMENTO, C.A. (The Sacramento Bee) People throughout the Southeast can hand over their vaping devices as an “emerging public health threat” looms, federal officials say. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced its Charlotte District Office was teaming up with local officials to accept vaping devices and cartridges at sites across the region on Saturday.

DHEC continues to monitor and update confirmed and probable cases of severe pulmonary disease related to e-cigarette use or vaping.

DHEC In the News: Recycling grants, playground restoration, flu season is here

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

Grant helping City of Conway increase recycling and save money

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) This week the City of Conway announced a grant from Horry County Solid Waste and DHEC allowing them to give 500 recycling carts to residents. This is now the first grant for the City’s recycling program; the last time Conway gave 500 carts to residents, it increased recycling in the City by 8%.

 

From old to new again: Greenwood school hoping to restore old playground

GREENWOOD, S.C. (Index-Journal) On a portion of Springfield Elementary’s 32-acre campus is an old playground. Students in Anne Glawe’s fifth-grade Gifted and Talented class, who are working with Greenwood County Litter Prevention Coordinator Maggie McMahon, want to recycle it.

 

Flu season begins, health experts recommend flu shots now

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) While flu season is often unpredictable, October typically marks the start which means it’s time to get that flu shot. Flu activity in South Carolina was listed as minimal on Tuesday, according to DHEC. But, health officials are bracing for a bad flu season.