Sunday, July 11, was World Population Day, and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate DHEC’s own Vital Statistics team.Continue reading
June is Pride Month, and June 27 is Pride Day. These are opportunities to celebrate achievements by members of the LGBTQIA+ community and acknowledge challenges these individuals may face when it comes to public health and environmental justice.
“Pride month, and Pride celebrations in general, are a vital part of the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Billy Wiggins, Director of Clinical Services for the DHEC Public Health Bureau of Community Health Services, and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. “Celebrations, such as Pride, provide important moments of visibility and understanding. In honor of Pride Month, people are encouraged to take some time to learn more about the challenges, accomplishments, and diversity of the LGBTQIA+ community.”
LGBTQIA+ community stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.
Pride celebrations started as protests dating back to the Stonewall riots in June 1969 New York City (NYC). In 2016 the Stonewall site in NYC was declared a national monument.
To recognize the meaningful impact that our LGBTQIA+ community has had in the fields of environmental protection and public health, we’ve spotlighted several notable public figures who have and/or are making a difference in our communities.
“For almost 15 years DHEC’s STD/HIV and viral hepatitis division has partnered with SC Pride to offer outreach and testing services during the annual Pride festival,” said Tony Price, Prevention Program Manager of that Division. “DHEC has provided free testing for HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis C. At some of the events, DHEC has also provided vaccines for hepatitis A/B and influenza. The division has enjoyed a strong partnership with SC Pride, its leadership, and participants in the past. We look forward to continuing our efforts to support the LGBTQIA+ community with our health promotion and outreach programs.”
Two notable public health figures who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community are Michael J. Kaplan and Dr. Rachel Levine.
Kaplan is currently the President and CEO of Melanoma Research Alliance, and before that he was President and CEO of Washington, DC-based AIDS United. During his 25 years of executive non-profit and public health leadership experience, Kaplan has proven to be a supporter of health research and policy, mainly in the area of serving people living with HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQIA+ community.
Levine became the first openly transgender federal official in a Senate-confirmed role earlier this year when she was named Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. She has served as: Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health; Pennsylvania’s Physician General; Vice-Chair for Clinical Affairs for the Department of Pediatrics; and Chief of the Division of Adolescent Medicine and Eating Disorders at the Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In addition to her recent posts in medicine and government, Dr. Levine is an accomplished speaker and author of numerous publications on the opioid crisis, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBT medicine.
As for public health challenges, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are five times as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to attempt suicide, and 40 percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide. According to a 2017 study from the University of Chicago, “Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America.” LGBT youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness compared to their heterosexual counterparts, according to the CDC. More information on LGBTQIA+ health is available on the CDC’s website.
DHEC uses the definition created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to define Environmental Justice (EJ) “as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Our agency’s five EJ principles are:
- Ensure that Environmental Justice Communities are Routinely Considered Throughout Decision-Making Processes.
- Proactively Build and Strengthen Relationships with Communities by Sharing Information, Providing Technical Assistance, and Identifying Resources.
- Proactively Promote Partnerships Between Communities and Other Stakeholders.
- Encourage and Facilitate Capacity Building and Collaborative Problem Solving Within Environmental Justice Communities.
- Strengthen Our Agency’s Leadership with the Goal of Sustaining Environmental Justice within SC DHEC.
You can learn more about EJ by clicking here. A few members of LGBTQIA+ community that are notable for their contributions to the environment are:
Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose influential book “Silent Spring” and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. “Silent Spring” was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, but it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.
Mahri Monson, an Environmental Protection Specialist for the EPA, describes her work as “enforcing U.S. environmental laws, addressing serious pollution problems to protect communities and the environment.” A proponent of green infrastructure, Monson’s work strategizes storm management and mitigates sewer overflows, providing environmental and social benefits for communities throughout the country. Monson also worked alongside co-workers to create a policy concerning transgender and gender nonconforming EPA employees, including a guide to transitioning at the EPA and prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
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.
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
Last week, April 18-24 was Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, and Friday, April 23, was World Lab Day.
Though the Public Health Laboratory (PHL) is the most well-known, DHEC also observed the week by highlighting a couple other of our program areas with lab professionals, Healthcare Quality and Environmental Affairs.Continue reading