Category Archives: Maternal & Child Health

“Sickle Cell Matters”: DHEC observes Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) is a debilitating genetic disease that impacts many families across the globe. Every September is recognized as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month to help focus attention on the need for research and treatment of sickle cell disease.

This year’s theme, Sickle Cell Matters, also highlights the need to raise awareness about the daily struggles of those living with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) as well as dismantle the stereotypes and stigmas associated with persons who have the disease. 

SCD affects millions of people throughout the world. Although SCD is most common among African Americans in the United States, it can also affect Hispanics and people whose ancestors come from countries in South Asia (such as India), southern Europe (such as Greece and Italy), and the Middle East (such as Saudi Arabia and Lebanon).

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Highlighting Benefits of Breastfeeding for National Recognition Month

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month and DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program wants you to recognize how breastfeeding fits into public health. Breastfeeding is good for both infants and mothers. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. Breastfeeding provides all the nutrients a baby needs for healthy growth and development.  

It is proven breastfeeding promotes health, prevents disease, and contribute to reducing health inequalities by giving babies a healthier start at the beginning of their lives. As an infant grows, breast milk changes to meet the infant’s nutritional needs.  

Breastfeeding can also help protect the infant and mother against certain illnesses and diseases:  

Decrease Risks to Infants Decrease Risks to Mothers 
Asthma Obesity Type 1 diabetes Severe lower respiratory disease Acute otitis media (ear infections) Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) Gastrointestinal infections (diarrhea/vomiting) Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infantsBreast cancer Ovarian cancer Type 2 diabetes High blood pressure 

Every woman’s breastfeeding journey is different, so you may experience some challenges. If you do, just remember it’s okay to ask for help.  

A WIC breastfeeding expert is trained to help you overcome breastfeeding challenges. Your family and friends can help, too. With a little time, patience, and support, you can overcome breastfeeding challenges and meet your goals.  

WIC is part of the Bureau of Community Nutrition Services. 

Our state’s regions have spent this month celebrating National Breastfeeding Month in clinics statewide. Check out some of the bulletin boards and other events our health clinics held to raise awareness for breastfeeding here. 

Don’t forget you can learn more about breastfeeding by visiting our WIC breastfeeding page.  

DHEC Celebrates World Breastfeeding Week 2021 and National Breastfeeding Month

This week marks World Breastfeeding Week. Celebrated across the globe from Aug. 1-7, 2021, the annual awareness week seeks to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. 

This year’s theme is “Protect Breastfeeding: A Shared Responsibility.” It focuses on how protecting breastfeeding is a shared responsibility. The World Alliance for Breastfeeding emphasizes the need for a public health approach to breastfeeding to build better systems. 

DHEC’s Women Infant and Children (WIC) team encourage its participants to choose to breastfeed as their first option for feeding their babies. Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and child including:  

  • Breast milk naturally has all the nutrients and antibodies babies need to grow, develop, and prevent illnesses.   
  • Breastfeeding is convenient and a great timesaver. You can breastfeed almost anywhere and anytime your baby is hungry.  
  • Breastfeeding helps the uterus return to its normal size.  
  • Breastfeeding reduces health care costs because babies are healthier. 
  • Breast milk is always sterile, warm, and ready to serve. 

WIC is part of the Bureau of Community Nutrition Services.

We understand breastfeeding can be challenging for some mothers, especially in the early days. Lactation consultants can help you find ways to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. Click here to learn more about tackling breastfeeding challenges.  

In addition to World Breastfeeding Week, August is also National Breastfeeding Month. To help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week and National Breastfeeding Month, our regions will be conducting activities. If you’re visiting one of our clinics, look for special activities. We’ll also be sharing pictures later this month showing some of the special events taking place throughout our state.  

According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding, scaling up breastfeeding can prevent:  

  • 20,000 maternal deaths annually 
  • 823,000 child deaths annually 
  • $302B in economic losses annually  
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For more information about breastfeeding visit the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action’s website where you can also sign a pledge to participate in World Breastfeeding Week. Also, you can learn about how WIC can help with breastfeeding by visiting our WIC webpage. 

DHEC Recognizes National Trauma Awareness Month by Highlighting Healthcare Quality Programs

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.  

National School Nurse Day is May 12: Championing the Whole Student

National School Nurse Day
May 12, 2021
School Nurses: Championing the Whole Student

Picture of a nurse and a student

Since 1972, National School Nurse Day has been set aside to recognize school nurses.

National School Nurse Day was established to foster a better understanding of the role of school nurses in the educational setting.

May 6-12 is National Nurses Week and school nurses are honored for the work they do in advancing the well-being, academic success, and lifelong achievements of students by providing access to care in the school environment.

Picture of school nurses from Newberry School District.
School nurses from Newberry School District: on the far left is Tricia Ulch, BSN, RN, School Nurse Coordinator, recipient of the 2019/2020 DeeDee Chewning School Nurse Administrator of the Year Award. The winner for the 2020/2021 school year has not been announced yet.

The 2021 theme for National School Nurse Day is “Championing the Whole Student.”

This theme recognizes the integral role that school nurses play bridging health and education to improve each child’s cognitive, physical, social and emotion development, regardless of whether they are physically present in school or not.

School nurses serve as a critical health hub for students, ensuring that students are ready for learning by managing complex chronic conditions; identifying and addressing mental health issues; leveling the field on health disparities and promoting healthy behaviors; enrolling children in health insurance and connecting families to healthcare providers; handling medical emergencies; and now, navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic by testing, tracking and vaccinating students and school personnel.

School nurses act as a liaison to the school community, families, and health care providers on behalf of children’s health.

School nurses champion the whole student every day of the year. But, on National School Nurse Day, we take special time to celebrate and recognize the contributions that school nurses are making to the health and learning of our nation’s 50 million children.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed a proclamation earlier this month recognizing May 12 as School Nurses Day in South Carolina.

Governor's Proclamation declaring May 12 School Nurses Day
Governor Henry McMaster’s Proclamation