Tag Archives: Department of Health and Environmental Control

CLIA Program highlighted during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week

This week is Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and we at DHEC want to highlight our Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) Program. 

CLIA was created in 1988 to establish quality standards for all laboratory testing. It is through CLIA that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for overseeing all the laboratory testing performed on humans in the U.S., except for clinical trials and research.

Some responsibilities of our CLIA team include surveying, certifying and recertifying laboratories for participation in Medicare and Medicaid programs based on federal and safety standards. Our CLIA survey team ensures that laboratory facilities performing tests on human specimens obtain proper CLIA certification and comply with CLIA regulations. The team also makes recommendations to CMS regarding survey findings and investigates complaint allegations of CLIA violations.

MedLabProfessionals Photo

CLIA team members (left to right): Mary Jo Roue, Lakeisha Wright, Ashley Gibbs, Kiawania Reed and Amelyn Olson.

“DHEC’s role with CLIA entitles quality standards for laboratories to ensure the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of the patient’s results,” said Kiawania Reed, Bureau of Certification. “I make a difference by promoting teamwork, serving the community, and assuring achievable standards of quality and professionalism in our pursuit of healthy people living in healthy communities.”

Our CLIA Program must meet CMS performance expectations annually. CMS conducts a review every year to assess  DHEC’s ability to meet specific performance standards and to evaluate our performance of CLIA surveys and certification activities. Our CLIA team has met 100 percent of all performance standards for the past two consecutive federal fiscal years.

Many thanks to the members of our CLIA team for their hard work!

Cervical Health Awareness Month

By Trenessa K. Jones, DSL
Best Chance Network Director
Division of Cancer Prevention & Control

Cervical Health Awareness Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from cervical cancer, which was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for U.S. women.

While more work remains to prevent and respond to cervical cancer, fortunately the death rate has gone down with the increased use of screening tests.

You may qualify for free screening

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s (DHEC) Best Chance Network (BCN), along with its many partners, work to educate the public on the importance of cervical cancer screenings and help those who cannot afford to get screened.

BCN, which is administered by DHEC’s Cancer Prevention and Control Division, offers breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to women who have no health insurance or only have hospitalization insurance, who are between the ages of 30 and 64, and who meet certain program and income guidelines. The BCN program partners with more than 450 health care providers in the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these under-served women. The program also offers diagnosis and treatment, data tracking, public education and more.

The work of BCN

Since its inception in 1991, BCN has provided more than 225,000 breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for eligible women, assisting nearly 11,000 this past year alone.

According to the National Cancer Institute/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention State Cancer Profile, an average of 190 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer a year, while about 72 women die from the disease every year in South Carolina.  Thanks to an increase in routine Pap smears, cervical cancer rates have dropped drastically in the last 60 years, but South Carolina still ranks 14th in the nation for new cases of cervical cancer and 11th in the nation for cervical cancer deaths.

Cervical cancer symptoms may not be present in early stages.  That’s why routine screenings are so important; when caught and treated early, cervical cancer is highly curable.

“No woman in South Carolina should die from this highly preventable cancer. Regular screenings and follow up care are critical and if found early and treated it can be cured,” said Virginie Daguise, Ph.D., director of DHEC’s Bureau of Community Health and Chronic Disease Prevention.

Visit the DHEC website for more information on BCN.

Those working with older people or the chronically ill should get a flu shot

The flu is a serious health threat to vulnerable populations such as people 65 and older and those living with chronic medical conditions. People in those groups account for the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

People living with and caring for high-risk persons should take every precaution to protect themselves and those they are caring for during influenza season. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu, and DHEC and the CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get vaccinated annually.

Health care workers are recommended, and sometimes required by an employer, to be vaccinated against the flu. The reason is quite simple: Staff in doctors’ offices, hospitals and long-term care facilities have direct or indirect contact with patients.  Health care staff are at risk not only of becoming infected with influenza at work, but also of spreading it to patients and their coworkers.

Vaccination of long-term health care staff is especially important because most of their patients are elderly or have chronic health issues and are at higher risk of flu complications.  Residents and staff in long-term care facilities often have regular close contact.  According to the CDC, studies show that during a confirmed influenza outbreak in a long-term care facility, up to one in three residents and one in four staff develop an influenza-like illness. Click here for more information on why it is important for health care personnel in long-term care to be vaccinated against the flu.

Visit the CDC’s website to see how to improve vaccination coverage among long-term health care personnel. Visitors at the website also can access an influenza toolkit for long-term care employers.

It’s not too late to get your flu vaccine!  Even if you don’t have a regular health care provider the flu vaccine is available in many settings. In addition to DHEC clinics, many local providers — including doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, college health centers, schools and workplaces — now offer flu vaccines. DHEC encourages everyone to find the facility that works best for them.

Be prepared for winter weather

With snow predicted for parts of South Carolina Saturday, now is a good time to remember to prepare for winter weather. Winter storms and cold temperatures can be hazardous. The best way to stay safe and healthy is to plan ahead and prepare your homes and cars for possible bad weather.

Snowfall, ice storms and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with an ice storm or extreme cold. If you are prepared, you will be more likely to stay safe and healthy when temperatures start to fall.

Take precautions

Here are some tips from the SC Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help in your preparation:

  • Include winter supplies like shovels and rock salt in your household emergency kit.
  • Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off.
  • Stock food that needs no cooking or refrigeration and water stored in clean containers.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
  • Portable generators are commonly used in the winter as a result of storm-induced power outages. Carbon monoxide fumes are odorless and deadly. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to prevent death from carbon monoxide.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
  • Chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.
  • Have your vehicle serviced to ensure it is prepared for the winter season.
  • In every vehicle, place a winter emergency kit that includes: a shovel; windshield scraper and small broom; flashlight; battery-powered radio; extra batteries; water; snack food; matches; extra hats, socks and mittens; first aid kit with a pocket knife; medications; blankets; tow chain or rope; road salt and sand; booster cables; emergency flares; and a fluorescent distress flag.
  • When outdoor wear appropriate outdoor clothing: a tightly woven, preferably wind-resistant coat or jacket; inner layers of light, warm clothing; mittens; hats; scarves; and waterproof boots.
  • Avoid traveling when the weather service has issued advisories. If you must travel, inform a friend or relative of your proposed route and expected time of arrival.

Watch out for family and friends

Above all, be ready to check on family and neighbors who are especially at risk from cold weather hazards: young children, older adults and the chronically ill. Bring pets inside. If you can’t bring them inside, be sure they have adequate, warm shelter and unfrozen water to drink.

Download SCEMD’s Severe Winter Weather Guide. Also, visit the CDC’s website for more information about staying safe and healthy in the winter.

Strive for a safer, healthier life in 2017

In 2017, be purposeful about changing habits, taking precautions and instituting preventive measures aimed at improving your health and quality of life. Making the right decisions could make 2017 your healthiest yet.

A few tips to consider

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you:

  • Be smokefree. If you are ready to quit, call the S.C. Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669), or for services in Spanish, call 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569). Read this blog post to learn more. For more information on the S.C. Tobacco Quitline, visit the DHEC website.
  • Protect yourself from injury or disease by wearing a helmet when biking, using sunscreen when outdoors and insect repellent to protect yourself from mosquito-borne illnesses.
  • Make an appointment for a check-up, vaccination or screening. Regular health exams and tests can help find problems early or even before they start.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water to prevent the spread of infection and illness.
  • Make healthy food choices. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts, and is low in saturated fats, transfats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars.
  • Be active to improve overall health. Exercise. Also, try simple things such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Get enough sleep. Insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.

More information is available

For more assistance in making 2017 your healthiest year yet, visit the CDC website.