As DHEC and other public health agencies across the country have responded to COVID-19, one of the key prevention steps – in addition to wearing masks and physical distancing – has been the practice of good hand washing. That’s because clean hands save lives.
The practice is so important that on May 5 of each year we observe World Hand Hygiene Day.
Good hand hygiene is the single most important practice supported by evidence in helping eliminate cross-contamination and reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).
It’s a way of reminding everyone – particularly health care workers – that hand cleanliness plays a key role in preventing HAIs. Up to 70 percent of HAIs that occur yearly could be prevented if health care workers follow recommended protocols, which include proper hand washing.
The key elements for keeping hands clean are soap and water or hand sanitizer.
Soap and water
Use soap and water when hands are visibly soiled and/or when working with a patient or an environment in which you may come into contact with contaminants.
The amount of time for proper hand washing with soap and water varies from 15 seconds to 30 seconds (depending on the study), so hands should be vigorously scrubbed for a minimum of 15 seconds.
An alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the preferred method for cleaning your hands when they are not visibly dirty because it:
Is more effective at killing potentially deadly germs on hands than soap;
Requires less time;
Is more accessible than hand washing sinks;
Reduces bacterial counts on hands;
Improves skin condition with less irritation and dryness than soap and water.
Whether it is using traditional soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, proper handwashing must continue to be emphasized by all champions of infection prevention as a constant in the fight to prevent disease spread and saving lives.
Click here to view a video on why good hand hygiene is important now more than ever.
November 11 is Veteran’s Day, a holiday to recognize and thank the men and women who have served our country.
We would like to thank all of our DHEC employees who served their country and are now continuing their service with our state. Our staff share a passion for service, and we are proud to have many employee veterans from all branches and backgrounds who have chosen to continue their careers of service with us.
A Flickr album featuring photos of our veterans is available here.
As the number one killer of women nationally, heart disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 women annually in the United States. This Friday, Feb. 7, DHEC is encouraging everyone to wear red to help raise awareness for women and heart disease.
In 2003, the American Heart Association introduced a new initiative known as “National Wear Red Day” to inform women of the dangers of ignoring their heart health and to teach them how to improve their heart and overall health. “Go Red Day” is held on the first Friday in February and encourages both women and men to dress in red clothing to show their support for heart disease awareness.
Since the inaugural “National Wear Red Day,” there have been significant accomplishments achieved to reduce the number of women dying from heart disease, including:
Nearly 90 percent of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
More than one-third of women have lost weight.
More than 50 percent of women have increased their exercise.
6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
More than 40 percent of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
One-third of women have talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
Death in women from heart disease has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.
Join us, this Friday as we Go Red for women and heart health.
Officially recognized in 1993, National Nurses Week was founded to celebrate nurses and their contributions to society as well as encourage more people to join the nursing profession.
Whenever there is someone in need of care, you can count on a nurse to show compassion in tending to their needs. Nurses are critical in safeguarding individual and public health.
“We celebrate our DHEC nurses for protecting our communities one individual at a time,” said Rebecca Morrison, APRN, MSN, FNP-BC, director, Public Health Nursing. “Nurses Week is a time to celebrate their dedication and commitment to Public Health nursing.”
DHEC nurses provide care for clients in several programs, including: immunizations, sexually transmitted disease (STD) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing, tuberculosis, family planning, children’s health and more. They are also in local schools and childcare centers. For a full list of services we provide statewide, visit: https://www.scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics/services-we-provide.
The nursing profession was founded to protect, promote, and improve health for all ages. Take time this week to thank a nurse for all they do.
As the state’s public health agency, DHEC strives to be the example when it comes to healthy lifestyles—both for the public and other organizations.
In May, we participated in the Working Well Corporate Challenge, a partnership between the Governor’s Cup Road Race and the South Carolina Hospital Association. Over 100 DHEC employees and their families participated in the marathon, half-marathon, 5K, Main Street Mile and Kid’s Mile.
Last week, the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) recognized DHEC for our winning participation in the challenge.
In 2017, the Governor’s Cup Road Race partnered with South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well initiative to form the Working Well Corporate Challenge. We congratulate the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) who recruited and registered 104 participants.
DHEC promoted participation by creating an intra-office competition, with the winning team receiving a trophy and recognition at an ice cream social. DHEC promoted the event to walkers and runners alike by basing the competition on the total number of participants who finished a race, rather than distance or speed. This leveled the playing field between seasoned runners, new walkers, and everyone in between.
Will Britt, DHEC team captain, has seen an increase in physical activity interest since the Working Well Corporate Challenge. “The challenge went better than we expected,” said Britt. “We now have many employees who have already signed up for another race and are enthusiastic about toeing the line at the 2018 Governor’s Cup.”