Category Archives: Maternal & Child Health

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

June 19th is #WorldSickleCellDay

Today (June 19th) is World Sickle Cell Day!  Every year, the international health community recognizes Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) as a debilitating genetic disease that impacts families across the globe. Keeping individuals and communities informed about the struggles that come with daily management of SCD, can help raise awareness as well as debunk stereotypes and stigmas associated with persons who have SCD.   

SCD affects millions of people worldwide and is particularly common among people originating from sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, South America and Central America, and Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Greece and Italy.

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans and occurs in about 1 out of every 365 African-American births. Individuals living with SCD suffer from both acute and chronic complications that require frequent contact with the medical system. These complications include acute sickle cell pain, fever, and acute chest syndrome (ACS), which is the term used for a number of different findings that includes chest pain, cough, fever, hypoxia and new lung infiltrates.

Here are some quick facts about SCD:

  • Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. The red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle” and the cells die early, which causes a constant storage of red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are round and move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
  • To get SCD, the trait must be inherited from both parents who already have the SCD trait. People with the trait usually do not have any of the signs of the disease and live a normal life, but they can pass the trait to their children.
  • SCD is diagnosed with a simple blood test.  It is most often found at birth during routine newborn screening tests. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
  • There are several treatment options available for individuals living with different complications of SCD, but the only cure for SCD is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.  Transplants are very risky, and can have serious side effects, including death.  For the transplant to work, the bone marrow must be a close match (usually a brother or sister). 

SCD and COVID-19

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is significant concern that the overlap of lung disease from COVID-19 with ACS may result in increased complications and amplification of healthcare utilization among individuals with SCD. Patients with SCD often have underlying cardiopulmonary co-morbidities that may predispose them to poor outcomes if they become infected with COVID-19. Source: hematology.org. 

Below are recommendations from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) for patients with SCD regarding COVID-19:

  • Patients and parents should be educated about COVID-19 signs and symptoms and the importance of physical distancing to limit chances of exposure and infection.
  • Patients and parents should receive counseling to continue to monitor for fever or other signs of infection. Call  hospital, doctor, or nurse first for advice on where to go for an evaluation.
  • Be sure that patients have an ample supply of all prescribed medication at home (including analgesics) to manage both acute and chronic pain.
  • Patients should adhere closely to the correct use of medications.

SCD Partnerships

DHEC is committed to educating the community and public about the availability of resources and services for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease.  DHEC’s Division of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN), provides assistance to persons with sickle cell disease by covering services, such as, medical expenses, physician visits, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and prescription drugs.  Assistance is offered to both children and adults who meet eligibility requirements. 

Additionally, CYSHCN engages with the four Sickle Community Based Organizations in the state — the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, – Louvenia D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, – Orangeburg Area Sickle Cell Foundation and – COBRA Human Services Agency Sickle Cell Program – to ensure persons living with SCD have access to community resources and support services. 

Get Your Flu Shot During National Influenza Vaccination Week

This week is National Influenza Vaccination Week, and we are entering the peak of flu season. Receiving a flu vaccination can reduce flu illness, doctor’s visits, and missed work or school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations.

Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death.

Everyone in your family who is six months and older should get a flu vaccine every year. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your shot today.

Flu symptoms may include:

  • fever,
  • cough,
  • sore throat,
  • runny or stuffy nose,
  • muscle or body aches,
  • headaches, and

Flu germs are spread by tiny droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Those droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.

Flu shots_SC Health Assessment

According to the 2018 South Carolina State Health Assessment, many South Carolinians are receiving their flu shots, even above the national average. During the 2016-17 flu season, South Carolina had the second highest percent of adults 18 years and older who received the flu vaccine among the southern states (45.2%). Be in that number and get your shot today. Pregnant women should especially speak to their doctor about flu vaccination, as they are at an increased risk for a severe case of the flu due to changes in their immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy. Flu can cause severe reactions to the mother as well present adverse outcomes for the infant.

DHEC offers the flu vaccine at all public health clinics. Find a clinic near you by visiting https://www.scdhec.gov/health/health-public-health-clinics.

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