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DHEC Helps S.C. Parents Brush Up on Good Oral Health Habits for Kids

Division of Oral Health Receives Over $500,000 in Federal Funding ​

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, and DHEC is helping parents brush up on the importance of their child’s oral hygiene and the positive habits that lead to healthy smiles. As part of this effort, DHEC’s Division of Oral Health received $570,000 in federal funding from the CDC to support the oral health of South Carolina’s youngest children.​

“We’re trying to expand the recognition of oral health as an essential part of total health and well-being from the earliest age,” said Dr. Ray Lala, director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC. “We want receiving a toothbrush at a DHEC regional office or from a pediatrician to be a common experience. Prevention is key, and we can all be messengers.”

The Perinatal and Infant Oral Health Quality Improvement Expansion Grant funding helps expand the public’s access to preventive oral health information through their local health departments and medical and dental settings.

In addition to the Division of Oral Health’s ongoing efforts to expand federal funding opportunities, the division is also proud to recognize its leader, Dr. Lala. 

_MG_8774 Lala Sept 2013.jpgDr. Lala has spent his professional career in Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Maryland. He is an alumnus of the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry. Upon completion of dental school, he entered private practice and maintains an active dental license from the State of Louisiana.​

After 15 years of private dental practice, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, assigned to the Indian Health Service in 1993. He was selected for a federal detail as the South Carolina State Oral Health Coordinator in 2000. Upon completion of this detail in 2004, Dr. Lala was reassigned to the Health Resources and Services Administration in Rockville, Md. Upon retirement from the Indian Health Service and the Public Health Service in 2014, Dr. Lala assumed his current position as Director of the Division of Oral Health at DHEC.

Dr. Lala’s and his team’s commitment to increasing access to preventive oral health information in South Carolina aligns with our agency’s core value of Embracing Service and strategy of Education and Engagement.

For more information about you can help prevent tooth decay, click here to read our recent news release.

World Breastfeeding Week 2018: Mother’s love, Mother’s Milk

World Breastfeeding Week offers a perfect time to highlight the benefits of breastfeeding.

The annual observance, coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is August 1-7, 2018. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding: Foundation of Life,” focuses on educating everyone on how breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong health for babies and mothers. In a world filled with health disparities, it is critical that all babies have a strong foundation for a healthy life. According to WABA, breastfeeding prevents hunger and malnutrition in all its forms and ensures food security for babies, even in times of crises.

“Breastfeeding is one of the best gifts a mother can give her child,” said Ellen Babb, DHEC’s Breastfeeding Coordinator. “No formula can equal the unique combination of easily digestible nutrients and immune factors found in human milk. In addition to numerous physical benefits for mother and baby, breastfeeding promotes a special, lasting bond between them.”

Tackling the myths

Unfortunately, there are many myths about breastfeeding that have made many mothers indecisive on whether to breastfeed their babies or not. Take a look at a few of them below.

Myth: I won’t be able to make enough milk.

Moms almost always make enough milk to feed their babies. Your baby is likely getting more than you think at each feeding. A newborn’s stomach is only the size of an almond. If you eat in a healthy way, drink water, and nurse often, your milk supply should be plentiful. If you have any concerns about your milk supply or your child’s weight, check in with your baby’s doctor or nurse.

Myth: Breastfeeding hurts.

The truth is that breastfeeding is not supposed to be a painful experience. In fact, pain is usually a red flag that something is wrong. While a baby’s latch can be strong, it’s not actually biting, not even when the baby is cutting teeth. As with any new skill, there is an adjustment period. WIC provides breastfeeding peer counselors, lactation consultants, and educational materials to help you get a good start and proper latch – a key to preventing pain. There’s a number of organizations in South Carolina (such as hospitals, lactation centers, and the WIC Program) that offers assistance with breastfeeding through lactation counselors, lactation consultants, peer counselors, and educational materials to help you get a good start and proper latch – a key to preventing pain.

Myth: If I breastfeed, the baby will want only me, or be spoiled.

Just because you breastfeed does not mean that your baby will only want you or be spoiled. While there is a joyful closeness and bonding that occurs during breastfeeding there are also many things others can do, especially dad. He can do things such as playing with the baby, holding baby skin to skin, changing diapers, and more. When dad holds baby skin-to-skin, he can also develop a special bond with the baby. For those worried about spoiling their babies, research shows that breastfed children grow up to be confident and self-sufficient when parents work to meet their other emotional needs.

Challenges of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be challenging, especially in the early days but you are not alone. Lactation consultants can help you find ways to make breastfeeding work for you and your baby. Some women face challenges while breastfeeding, while others do not. Additionally, some women may have certain problems with one baby that they may not have with others. Click here to learn more tackling breastfeeding challenges.

Human milk is the best milk

It is important for moms to know that any amount of breastmilk you give to your baby will be of great benefit because every ounce counts! Human breast milk has been the normal, natural milk to nourish babies since the very beginning of our existence. Breastfeeding promotes a joyful closeness with your baby and a special lifelong bond. It’s a gift only you can give your baby!

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Causing property damage, skin irritation, and increased expenses, bed bugs are a nuisance worldwide. The good news is that these creepy crawlers are not considered carriers of disease and are, therefore, not a public health threat! Commonly treated by insecticide spraying, there are several steps you can take to help protect your family from bed bugs:

  1. Know how to identify a bed bug and understand where they’re found.
  2. Conduct regular inspections for signs of an infestation.
  3. If you believe you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company to have your home or business properly treated.

DHEC does not have regulatory authority to intervene or respond to bed bug-related issues at hotels, homes, apartments, thrift stores, etc. Bed bugs at state-licensed healthcare facilities, however, should be reported to us via our online complaint form. For more information about filing a complaint about bed bugs at a regulated healthcare facility, please click here.

Even though we do not inspect, treat or conduct site visits in response to bed bug complaints in homes or hotels, we want to make sure that everyone has access to the information they need to help prevent a bed bug infestation in their home.

Like mosquito bites, bed bug bites typically result in a minor skin irritation. Some people might experience a more severe allergic reaction. If you believe that you are experiencing an adverse reaction to a bed bug bite, please seek medical attention from your healthcare provider.

For more information about bed bugs, click on the following: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

This July Fourth, Make Fireworks Safety A Priority

This July 4th many Americans and South Carolinians will continue the long tradition of lighting up the night with fireworks. While the displays are visually compelling, DHEC is urging everyone to put safety first if they are participating in any firework activities.

“Thousands of people are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained from fireworks,” said Neal Martin, program coordinator of DHEC’s Division of Injury, and Violence Prevention. “You cannot take safety for granted when it comes to fireworks.”

Fireworks can be harmful

Fireworks-related injuries are preventable. They range from minor and major burns to fractures and amputations. In South Carolina, the most common fireworks-related injuries are burns and open wounds to the hands, legs, head, and eyes.

“Fireworks are exciting to see this time of year, but they are dangerous when misused not only for the operator but also for bystanders and nearby structures,” said Bengie Leverett, Public Fire Education Officer at the Columbia Fire Department. “Everyone is urged to use extreme precaution when using the devices.”

Put safety first 

The best way to prevent fireworks injuries is to leave fireworks displays to trained professionals. However, if you still want to light up fireworks at home, DHEC and the Columbia Fire Department want you to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Observe local laws. If you’re unsure whether it is legal to use fireworks, check with local officials.
  • Monitor local weather conditions. Dry weather can make it easier for fireworks to start a fire.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Always read and follow directions on each firework.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors, away from homes, dry grass, and trees.
  • Always have an adult present when shooting fireworks.
  • Ensure everyone is out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap.
  • Light fireworks one at a time, and keep a safe distance.
  • After fireworks complete their burning, douse them with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding it to prevent a trash fire.

Never:

  • Point or throw fireworks at another person.
  • Re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
  • Give fireworks to small children.
  • Carry fireworks in your pocket.

Protect Your Pets

Aside from making sure your family and friends stay safe, it’s also important to protect our furry friends. Pets should be kept safely inside the house to avoid additional stress and the possibility of lost pets (who escape fencing to run from fireworks).

Dogs who are fearful of fireworks should be isolated in rooms that provide the most soundproofing from the loud noises of fireworks going off. You can also play the radio to further muffle the noises.

Make sure that your pets have proper, current, visible identification in case they escape during the fireworks.

Also, never take your pets to firework shows.

Please view the video below for more information on firework safety. You can also visit www.scdhec.gov and search for the keyword “fireworks.”

Unlock A New Career At DHEC’s Career Fairs

Calling all job seekers across the Palmetto State: DHEC is hosting career fairs across the state on March 8.

The career fairs will occur simultaneously from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the following locations:

Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

             1101 Lincoln St., Columbia, SC 29201

Pelham Medical Center Community Center

               2755 S. Hwy 14, Greer, SC 29650

Sumter County Library
111 North Harvin St., Sumter, SC 29150
University of South Carolina-Beaufort

           1 University Blvd., Bluffton, SC 29909

“This is a great opportunity for job seekers who want to give back to their community and state,” said Marcus Robinson, DHEC’s chief human resources officer. There are hundreds of openings, including environmental health managers, nurses, nutritionists, and IT and administrative positions that are ready to be filled.”

DHEC employees improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and the environment. DHEC offers an abundance of benefits, such as competitive healthcare rates and professional development to all its employees.

Prospective external and internal candidates can go online at scdhec.gov/agency/career and apply for all interested positions.

Walk-ins, new college graduates or soon-to-be college graduates are also highly encouraged to attend the event. Everyone will have the opportunity to meet with representatives and learn more about opportunities at DHEC.

Please visit DHEC’s Facebook page or Eventbrite to register for the job fair. Make sure to bring plenty of resumes and to dress for success.