Category Archives: Employee Recognition

Local Hospital Acknowledged by DHEC Newborn Screening Program for Becoming Champions of Satisfactory Dried Blood Spot Collection

Newborn screening is a state public health service intended to identify infants who may be at an increased risk of certain disorders. Many consider newborn screening the most successful public health program in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) listed newborn screening as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the last decade.*

The term “newborn screening” refers to the collective group of conditions screened at birth including dried blood spot, hearing, and Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD). Our focus for this post is on Newborn Screening dried blood spots.

Every infant born in South Carolina is screened for unexpected medical conditions by collecting a blood sample, or blood spot specimen, from the infant’s heel 24 to 48 hours after birth. Five blood spots are obtained from approximately 57,000 infants born in South Carolina every year. Once dried and packaged, those blood spots are sent to the South Carolina Public Health Laboratory, where they are assessed for proper testing criteria also known as a satisfactory specimen collection.

If the laboratory deems the collection as unsatisfactory, those specimens are rejected, and the lab is unable to test for more than 50 disorders that are identifiable during the newborn period. Many of these disorders are time-critical or life-threatening. A repeat specimen is then requested, and a pediatrician, hospital, or health department is tasked with recollecting the specimen. This process can lead to a critical time delay of identifying an infant with a time critical disorder, timely diagnosis and treatment. Getting it right the first time, every time is important for all babies born in South Carolina.

 

In June 2019, the Newborn Screening Program, along with partners from the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), traveled to McLeod Health Clarendon in Manning, SC. This recent visit was to recognize the hospital staff for achieving 100% satisfactory blood spot specimens in 2018. When the nurse manager, Debi, received a call from DHEC to acknowledge her facility’s accomplishment, she was pleasantly surprised. She revealed that her staff began to champion their newborn screening blood spot collection after attending the DHEC “First Time, Every Time” dried blood spot collection training workshop.

The processes implemented after the training guided them along a journey for success. Here is what Debi had to say: “I could not be prouder of my diligent and conscientious Women’s Services team at McLeod Health Clarendon; they truly exemplify our mission of providing excellence in healthcare! We would also like to thank the SC DHEC newborn screening team for making such a positive impact in the health care of all South Carolina newborns!” -Debi Love-Ballard, R.N., Director of McLeod Health Clarendon’s Women and Infant Services.

DHEC Group Pic for Newborn Screening Awards

McLeod Health Clarendon was the only South Carolina hospital to accomplish the goal of 100% satisfactory bloodspot specimen collection in 2018.  Approximately 400 infants received their results in a timely manner without experiencing a repeat collection process.

Congratulations McLeod Health Clarendon. Their impact on the babies born in their community is a true representation of DHEC’s vision of Healthy People, Healthy Communities in South Carolina.

For more information about newborn screening, visit https://scdhec.gov/health-professionals/lab-certification-services/newbornscreening and https://www.babysfirsttest.org/.

* Koppaka, R Ten great public health achievements – United States, 2001–2010. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly. Rep. 2011;60(19):619–623

Today is National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Did you know there are more than 2,300 regulated dams in South Carolina? The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) oversees compliance for state-regulated dams through the Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program.

National Dam Safety Awareness Day encourages individual and community responsibility for dam safety, while promoting the benefits dams offer to communities.

Dam 1

“As a Dam Safety program inspector, I work with dam owners to ensure dams are safely maintained and identify issues that need to be addressed to prolong the life of the dam and protect downstream life and property.” –Chuck Owens, DHEC Dam Safety Inspector

Dam 3

Recently, the Dam Safety Program has incorporated the use of drones into their inspection process. Inspectors can utilize DHEC’s FAA certified drone pilots, who are able to fly the devices over those exterior features of the dam which are crucial to its safety and integrity but are not accessible by foot. Drones help keep our inspectors safe while improving their capability to survey dams of all sizes quickly and efficiently.

Dam 4Thank you to DHEC’s Dam Safety Program for your dedicated work on the tools, initiatives, and people that help make dam owners and the state’s dam safety program better prepared to handle significant rainfall and other events that have the potential to impact dams in the state.

Meet Jill Stewart, DHEC Director of Dam Safety and Storm Water Permits.

To learn more about DHEC’s Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water-quality/dams-and-reservoirs/dams-and-reservoirs-safety-program-overview.

DHEC Employees Win Big at the 2019 Palmetto Gold Nurse Awards and Gala: 12 Employees Honored

In its 18th year, the Palmetto Gold Nurse Awards Gala recognizes exemplary Registered Nurses throughout South Carolina who are constantly raising the bar in healthcare.  Through a nomination and selection process, 100 nurses are chosen each year and honored at the Gala.  To date, over 1400 nurses have been honored with this award.  This year, DHEC is proud to have 12 of our own recognized.

The gala was held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.  Join us as we congratulate our 2019 Palmetto Gold Recipients!

DHEC Helps S.C. Parents Brush Up on Good Oral Health Habits for Kids

Division of Oral Health Receives Over $500,000 in Federal Funding ​

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and DHEC is helping parents brush up on the importance of their child’s oral hygiene and the positive habits that lead to healthy smiles. As part of this effort, DHEC’s Division of Oral Health received $570,000 in federal funding from the CDC to support the oral health of South Carolina’s youngest children.​

“We’re trying to expand the recognition of oral health as an essential part of total health and well-being from the earliest age,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “We want receiving a toothbrush at a DHEC regional office or from a pediatrician to be a common experience. Prevention is key, and we can all be messengers.”

The Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Expansion Grant funding helps expand the public’s access to preventive oral health information through their local health departments and medical and dental settings.

In addition to the Division of Oral Health’s ongoing efforts to expand federal funding opportunities, the division is also proud to recognize its leader, Dr. Lala. 

_MG_8774 Lala Sept 2013.jpgDr. Lala has spent his professional career in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Maryland. He is an alumnus of the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry. Upon completion of dental school, he entered private practice and maintains an active dental license from the State of Louisiana.​

After 15 years of private dental practice, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, assigned to the Indian Health Service in 1993. He was selected for a federal detail as the South Carolina State Oral Health Coordinator in 2000. Upon completion of this detail in 2004, Dr. Lala was reassigned to the Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md. Upon retirement from the Indian Health Service and the Public Health Service in 2014, Dr. Lala assumed his current position as Director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC.

Dr. Lala’s and his team’s commitment to increasing access to preventive oral health information in South Carolina aligns with our agency’s core value of Embracing Service and strategy of Education and Engagement.

For more information about you can help prevent tooth decay, click here to read our recent news release.

Remembering Our Colleague Margaret Douglas

Our colleague and dear friend, Ms. Margaret Douglas, director of constituent services, passed on Feb. 22 following an extended illness.Margaret

Margaret was part of the DHEC family for 47 years and will truly be missed. Those who knew her well, knew what a gentle and caring soul she was, always offering a kind word and adding light and love to the agency over the years.

Margaret began her DHEC career in 1970 working in Health Services. During her time with the agency she served in various roles, including staff assistant, secretary, stenographer, administrative specialist, and administrative coordinator.

In her most recent role as director of constituent services, she responded directly to the questions and concerns of hundreds of South Carolinians each week. In spite of health challenges, Margaret remained committed to her work, her team, the agency, and to the people of South Carolina.

Over the past weeks, many current and former DHEC staffers visited Margaret and her family in a beautiful display of love and support—proving that the bonds formed through daily work often knit us together in deep and abiding friendship.

Margaret was an extraordinary person and this is truly a great loss to our DHEC family and to our community as a whole. She will be profoundly missed.

Services were held Monday, Feb. 26 at First Calvary Baptist Church in Leesville. Please keep her family in your thoughts.