Category Archives: Public Health

Happy Social Workers Month

March is Social Work Month, and we want to thank all social workers for what they do. We especially celebrate the dedicated social workers at DHEC who work so hard to make a difference in public health across the state.

Social workers stand up for millions of people each day. They stand up by comforting people who are experiencing devastating illnesses and mental health crises, ensuring they get the best care while on the road to recovery. They work in communities and with national, state and local government to provide services to stand with and help the most vulnerable.

Social workers are trained to look at situations in a holistic way.

Did you know that we have social workers in DHEC programs across the state, including Children with Special Health Care Needs, Tuberculosis Control, STD/HIV Prevention, Community teams, Children’s Health and Public Health Preparedness? Did you also know that while these social workers are located in specific programs, they are also available to assist our staff and clients, regardless of program or clinic?

Join us at DHEC in celebrating our 24 licensed social workers who stand up every day for the citizens of our state.

Upstate                                          Midlands                                          

Mary Haywood, LMSW             Linda O’Neill, LMSW

Rhonda Hipp, LMSW                Caroline Carman, LISW-CP/AP

Linda Markovich, LMSW         Brenda Johnson, LMSW

Lenora Talley, LMSW                Jourdan Coulter, LMSW

Joanne Hobbick, LMSW

Pee Dee                                        Lowcountry                                     

Suzanne Seay, LMSW                Kacey Schmitt, LISW-CP

Mary Golden, LMSW                  George Bush, LMSW

Rose Laney, LISW-CP                Yvette Jeffries, LMSW

Ethel “Tina” Turner, LMSW     Lori Vaughn, LISW-CP

   Kerry Whetsell, LMSW

   Sophia Armstrong, LMSW

  Central Office

Lucy Gibson, LMSW

Lee Kirkpatrick, LMSW

Charmella Tyler, LMSW

Douglas Outlaw, LMSW

Vernita Wingate, LMSW

Make sure to visit this album to meet some of DHEC’s social workers. We appreciate all they do to uphold  the agency’s core values of embracing service, pursuing excellence and promoting teamwork!

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Boost Your Healthy Eating Habits This National Nutrition Month

By Adrianna Bradley

March is National Nutrition Month and DHEC has tips to help you make healthy food choices today.

“If you want to make the move toward eating healthier, choose one or two things to change,” said Phyllis Allen, MS, RD, state director of Public Health Nutrition. “Don’t instantly try to change everything you eat. When you make too many changes it will make it harder to stick with new habits.”

With this year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” DHEC is continuing its efforts in our communities teaching various age groups the importance of eating a well-balanced meal and living a more active lifestyle.

Healthy eating can help you achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and reduce the risk for a number of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. DHEC is actively working to decrease the number of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease with programs like Cooking Matters. The program teaches adults how to prepare and shop for healthy meals on a limited budget.  Currently, the economic cost of obesity in South Carolina is an estimated $8.5 billion per year and growing.

“Parents are important role models for their children,” Allen said. “Set a good example by eating healthy and your children will eat healthy too.”

Tips to help develop better habits

Here are some tips to help you develop sound eating and physical activity habits. Remember, making small changes in your food choices can lead to better health.

  1. Eat breakfast: Start your morning with a healthy breakfast that includes lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.12003
  2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies add color, flavor, and texture plus vitamins, minerals, and fiber to your plate. Make 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables your daily goal. Experiment with different types, including fresh, frozen and canned.
  3. Watch portion sizes: Get out the measuring cups and see how close your portions are to the recommended serving size.
  4. Be active: Start by doing what exercise you can for at least 10 minutes at a time. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults should get two hours and 30 minutes per week.
  5. Fix healthy snacks: Healthy snacks can sustain your energy levels between meals, especially when they include a combination of foods.
  6. Get to know food labels: Reading the Nutrition Facts panel can help you eat or drink smarter.
  7. Get cooking: Preparing foods at home can be healthy, rewarding and cost-effective. Resolve to learn some cooking and kitchen basics.
  8. Dine out without ditching your goals: Plan ahead, ask questions and choose foods carefully. Compare nutrition information, if available, and look for healthier options that are grilled, baked, broiled or steamed.
  9. Drink more water: Quench your thirst by drinking water instead of sugary drinks.
  10. Cut back on added sugars: Foods and drinks with added sugars equal empty calories and little or no nutrition. Reviewing ingredients on the food label helps identify sources of added sugar.

National Kidney Month

It’s National Kidney Month. So, be kind to your kidneys.

The kidneys are hard-working organs that are vital to our health. While each is only about the size of a computer mouse, the kidneys filter all the blood in your body every 30 minutes in order to remove waste, toxins and excess fluids. They also help control blood pressure, stimulate production of red blood cells and keep your bones healthy.

You can protect your kidneys by controlling your blood pressure, staying physically active and losing weight, among other things. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more kidney-friendly tips and related information.

Those most at risk should get tested

It’s particularly important for those who have risk factors for kidney disease to ask their doctor about testing them to learn their kidney health. Each kidney is made up of millions of tiny filters that can become damaged over time by diabetes, high blood pressure or other causes, and stop working, a condition called chronic kidney disease.

The CDC notes that approximately 15 percent of US adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease, which, in its early stages, has no signs or symptoms. The CDC recommends getting tested if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol, or are age 50 or older. You also should get tested if you are from a family with a history of chronic kidney disease.

Early detection and treatment for kidney disease can help prevent additional health problems.

DHEC encourages South Carolinians to take precautions against Zika at home and abroad

As springtime approaches, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is urging residents to take precautions now at home or while traveling to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika.

Many South Carolinians are preparing for trips abroad, whether it be for spring break, mission trips or just vacations. Many of those destinations are warmer locations where mosquito populations are known to transmit Zika and other diseases. DHEC encourages all those travelers to do their part to prevent mosquito bites.

Take care when traveling to an area with active transmission

“When traveling to any country with active Zika transmission, travelers should proactively take steps to prevent mosquito bites, such as using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, and staying in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens,” said Linda Bell, M.D. and state epidemiologist. “Zika is actively spreading in several areas of the world, including countries and territories in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, the Pacific Islands and Cape Verde.”

Individuals planning to travel should consult a travel clinic or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to see if they are traveling to an area with active Zika transmission. A complete list of countries and locations with active transmission can be found here: cdc.gov/zika/geo/index.html.

There have been 61 travel-related cases of Zika virus reported in South Carolina since April 2016. However, there have been no cases caused by mosquitoes in the state. “To help ensure this remains the case, it is very important for travelers to take these necessary precautions,” continued Dr. Bell.

Take precautions on the home front too

With temperatures rising in South Carolina, action on the home front is also needed to help fight mosquitoes. Eliminating breeding grounds is the No. 1 way to reduce mosquito populations, and all individuals can do their part by simply tipping and tossing any container with standing water.

“Mosquitoes have the ability to spread illnesses other than Zika, such as West Nile virus, chikungunya, dengue and eastern equine encephalitis,” said Dr. Bell.

Most people infected with the Zika virus do not have any symptoms. When symptoms are present, the most common are fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis (red eyes). Oftentimes, symptoms of Zika infection can be mild, yet last as long as one week. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly and other severe birth defects. The virus can also be passed through sex. The CDC recommends that all women who are pregnant should not travel to areas abroad where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

Learn more about prevention

For more information on steps that individuals can take to prevent mosquito bites and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds around their homes, visit www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes. For more information on the Zika virus, visit www.scdhec.gov/zika.

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!