Category Archives: Public Health

DHEC Observes World TB Day, Recognizes Efforts of Those Who Work to End the Disease in SC

This World TB Day, DHEC joins local, state, national and global efforts to control and eliminate tuberculosis, as well as to celebrate the work people all over the world have done to address tuberculosis.

World TB Day is officially observed on March 24 of each year to commemorate the date in 1882 when Dr. Robert Koch announced his discovery of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria that causes TB.

Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs that can be spread by coughing, sneezing or speaking. Signs and symptoms of TB disease include feelings of sickness or weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. The signs and symptoms of TB disease of the lungs also include coughing, chest pain and the coughing up of blood. The signs and symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected.

The 2020 World TB Day theme is ”It’s Time”. DHEC will take the time to recognize the amazing work of those in our TB division across the state. Our statewide theme is ”It’s time for us to speak out, step in, and stand up to end TB.”

In observance of the day, DHEC will celebrate with all TB staff on Friday, March 20. The two-hour celebration will include lectures by our state TB Clinician, Dr. Frank Ervin and Lowcountry’s TB Clinician, Dr. Susan Dorman. Awards will be given out in various categories, and staff will be recognized for their great achievements of continued reduction in our state case rate.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on our World TB Day activities.

DHEC and S.C. Hospital Association Collaborate to Address Stroke Prevention and Awareness

stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When this happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the Palmetto State. In addition, our state recently had the sixth highest stroke death rate in the nation.

With the vision of healthy people living in healthy communities, DHEC is working with partners, such as the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA), to address this health concern.

“My office and the S.C. Hospital Association Hospital Association work closely together to provide information to the public about access to care for stroke, rehabilitation services for stroke, health improvement programs, and access to care for rural areas within the state,” said John Thivierge, DHEC Program Coordinator for Stroke. “My office and the S.C. Hospital Association have a shared goal; that is to save lives and lessen the disabilities related to stroke.”

Beth Morgan, a Registered Nurse and Quality Improvement Project Manager with the association, agreed.

“It’s about saving lives,” she said. “Every 40 seconds in the United States someone has a stroke.”

By ensuring rural areas of the state have access to health improvement programs and care designed to address stroke, DHEC’s partnership with SCHA exemplifies the agency’s core value of Promoting Teamwork and strategy of Service and Accessibility.

“The work that SCHA and DHEC do together is vitally important,” Morgan said.

Learn more about preventing, signs of, and what to do if you are having a stroke.

Help Camp Burnt Gin Win “Best of Sumter” Title

Camp Burnt Gin, DHEC’s residential camp for young people with physical disabilities and chronic illnesses, has been nominated for the Best of Sumter awards. Voting for this recognition event sponsored by The Sumter Item is open until February 29, 2020.

Located in Wedgefield, SC, Camp Burnt Gin is a service of DHEC’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau/Division of Children with Special Health Care Needs and has operated since 1945. Staff members, in a ratio of one for every two campers, reside with the campers and assist them throughout a six-day session of activities. 

“The learning opportunities and experiences provided by the camp are invaluable,” said Camp Burnt Gin Director Marie Aimone.. “Camp Burnt Gin helps children to improve their social skills, self-esteem and independence. The camp’s activities are not only fun but help develop skills for a healthy, active lifestyle.”  

This summer’s sessions operate from June to August, and programming focuses on three age groups: 7-15, 16-20 and 21-25. Activities include swimming, arts and crafts, sports, and nature learning, and skits, carnivals, dances, and treasure hunts are part of special evening events. 

Click here to help Camp Burnt Gin claim this title!

How Can Campers Apply?

The camp is also accepting applications for the 2020 season.

“Camp Burnt Gin offers a variety of activities for children, teens and young adults who might not otherwise have a camping experience because of their health care needs,” Aimone said. “Some of the campers we serve live with physical disabilities like orthopedic conditions, hearing loss, epilepsy, sickle cell anemia, heart disease, cerebral palsy and craniofacial conditions.”

Camp Burnt Gin is seeking staff for the 2020 season, too, including counselors, activity specialists, waterfront assistants and nurses. 

“Working at Camp Burnt Gin is an excellent opportunity for someone planning a career in education, health-related professions or social services to gain experience,” said Thomas Carr, a seven-year staff member at the camp. “You come to Burnt Gin with the desire to make a difference in the life of a young person, but what you don’t realize is how much you can learn from the campers on a professional and personal level.”

The deadline for campers to apply for Camp Burnt Gin’s 2020 season is March 1. To apply as a camper or staff member, contact Marie at 803-898-0784 or campburntgin@dhec.sc.gov.

For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov/campburntgin.

Go Red For Women and Heart Health

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.

DHEC and S.C. Hospital Association Partner to Help Patients Stay Safe During Disasters

In the face of natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian that threatened to strike South Carolina last year, DHEC and entities such as the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) communicate with each other, patients, and the public about their respective storm efforts to better serve patients and their loved ones.

“The partnership between DHEC and hospitals in the state of South Carolina is vitally important,” said Justin KierDHEC’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with Bureau of Healthcare Planning and Construction. “Folks saw that through the messaging that was done through our online resources and our media resources, but also they saw that in their communities as well.”

More than 220 DHEC staff were activated around-the-clock leading up to, during, and after this storm event in 2019.

During the response to Hurricane Dorian, DHEC staff helped coordinate the safe evacuation and re-entry of more than 7,000 patients from 175 regulated health care facilities impacted by the Governor’s mandatory medical evacuation order, including

  • 13 hospitals,
  • 25 nursing homes, and
  • 92 assisted living facilities

“We help bring DHEC together with hospitals to make sure that hospitals are aware and understand their requirements to evacuate patients and get them to safer areas,” said Melanie MatneySCHA System Chief Operating Officer.

 This coordination is an example of the agency demonstrating leadership and collaboration with entities such as the SCHA. In addition, DHEC employees embrace service every day.

This commitment is further highlighted during emergency events such as a hurricane, in which hundreds of DHEC staff work together with our partners to directly assist in preparing for and responding to the storm while others volunteer and/or take on extra duties to ensure that our day-to-day operations remained intact.

Learn more about DHEC’s response efforts to Hurricane Dorian.