Category Archives: Health Regulation

DHEC in the News: mosquito spraying, crisis stabilization unit reopens

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Mosquito spraying will begin soon in Williamsburg County:

…at least 61 different species of mosquitoes exist in South Carolina. The most common diseases that could potentially be carried by mosquitoes in South Carolina include: West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, La Crosse encephalitis, Saint Louis encephalitis virus, and dog/cat heartworm.

DHEC has granted a special waiver to allow The Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center to reopen a facility aimed at keeping more non-violent, mentally ill patients out of jails and hospitals.

Existing regulations required all patients have a chest X-ray done at least 30 days prior to entering the crisis unit:

While the requirement still exists, DHEC has given the local facility, the only one of its kind in the state, a special waiver, Blalock said.
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Center officials are currently working alongside DHEC to acquire a “crisis stabilization” license, which the state doesn’t yet have.

For more news from DHEC, visit Live Healthy SC.

 

 

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

April 29, 2017 – 10AM to 2PM

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.

A number of agencies, pharmacies, organizations and others across South Carolina are joining the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to give the public its 13th opportunity in 7 years to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs.

Find a location near you by visiting the DEA Diversion Website and bring your pills for disposal.  (The DEA cannot accept liquids or needles or sharps, only pills or patches.)  The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons (over 730,000 pounds) of prescription drugs at almost 5,200 sites operated by the DEA and more than 4,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners.  Overall, in its 12 previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners have taken in over 7.1 million pounds—more than 3,500 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue.  Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

For more information about the disposal of prescription drugs or about the April 29 Take Back Day event, go to the DEA Diversion website.

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!

 

DHEC Encourages Disposal of Unused Prescription Drugs through Take-Back Programs

Saturday, October 22, marks the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. Held twice a year, this national observance aims to provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs, while educating the public about the potential for abuse of medication.

In South Carolina, 102 prescriptions for painkillers are now written for every 100 residentsIn 2015, there were 570 accidental prescription drug overdose deaths in the state.

To help address this problem, DHEC is working with health care providers and pharmacists across the state to identify and stop prescription drug abuse. DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control is charged with administering the South Carolina prescription monitoring program.  The centralized database, known as the South Carolina Reporting and Identification Prescription Tracking System (SCRIPTS), allows authorized users access to controlled substance dispensing data, helping to make it easier for South Carolina doctors and pharmacists to identify and report potential prescription drug abuse.

The intent of the database is to improve the state’s ability to identify and stop the diversion of prescription drugs in an efficient and cost-effective manner while not hindering the appropriate medical use of illicit controlled substances where there is a valid prescriber-patient or pharmacist-patient relationship.

Make use of take-back programs

DHEC encourages the disposal of unused household medications through take-back programs, as well as drop-off collection boxes, as a way to effectively serve and protect the citizens of South Carolina.

The take-back programs help reduce childhood overdoses, restrict household drug theft, limit the accumulation of drugs by the elderly, protect our physical environment, reduce pharmaceutical contamination of fresh water, and eliminate waste.

Also, research indicates that patients often do not take prescribed medications as directed, if at all. Thus, many unused medications are diverted, abused, and misused and could potentially lead to a major cause of accidental poisonings and arrests. The South Carolina law enforcement community has seen arrest rates for prescription drug-related offenses rise in the past several years.

Helping to protect our environment

In addition, after being flushed or poured down a drain, many medicines pass through sewer and septic systems. Because these systems cannot always treat or remove the medicines, they may end up in streams, lakes and groundwater. This can cause adverse effects in fish and other aquatic wildlife as well as unintentional human exposure to chemicals in the medications.

Keeping prescription and over-the-counter medicines out of the environment is an important way to prevent pollution. Drug disposal programs and events like drug take-back days provide a safe alternative to disposing unwanted or old medications.

Find out where to go 

To locate a collection site nearest you, click here.

Health Regulation Team Honored for Outstanding Effort in Patient Safety Work

By Jim Beasley
photo above: Shelly B. Kelly, Yolanda Holloman, Tamara Grant, Barbara Brague and MaryJo Rooue

Sometimes, regulating leads to the need for swift action.

Emergency actions taken by DHEC Health Regulations staff following an unannounced complaint investigation at an ambulatory surgery center have earned recognition from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their efforts also exemplified the agency’s core value of promoting teamwork.

It was April 2015 when registered nurses Tamara Grant and Yolanda Holloman from DHEC’s Bureau of Certification visited a site and found that the facility was placing its patients in “Immediate Jeopardy,” the formal term for a crisis situation in which the health and safety of individuals are at risk. Serious violations were found, including practices covering infection control and surgical services.

The team collaborated with the Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing and the Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology, finding several areas at the facility requiring an urgent plan of correction. Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing staff referred the center’s medical director for review by another state agency, while Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology staff conducted a contact investigation of patients and collaborated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional guidance.

CMS Award_2

Eva Johnson, Lorie Sanders, Tamara Grant, Sandra Johnson, Barbara Brague and Yolanda Holloman

Barbara Brague, a registered nurse with the Bureau of Certification, helped guide the inspectors in the field during a situation that proved a challenging experience for all. She interacted with the other DHEC bureaus and worked closely with the CMS regional office to determine whether the facility’s correction plan was acceptable.

DHEC surveyors conducted follow-up inspections in May and June 2015 to verify that corrections were made and to ensure the facility complied with federal regulations and conditions.

This shining example of cooperation and collaboration among bureaus demonstrates the importance of communication across the agency and with our partners.

Congratulations to all staff involved in this extraordinary effort for helping to protect the health and safety of patients. The award is well-deserved.