Tag Archives: Ebola

Ready, just in case

By Jim Beasley


(Photo: (L-R) Lori Goulet, RN & epi program manager; Fran Hall, RN & epi; Udoka Obiechefu, epi; Vicki Hinz, RN & epi; Karen Lowder, RN & epi; Heather Altier, Food Core; Rhonda Windham, RN & member, Outbreak Response Team. Not pictured: Carol Ciccone, lab consultant)

The emergence of new public health threats, such as Ebola and other illnesses, emphasizes the importance of proper training for DHEC’s staff. That’s why on March 26, 2015, DHEC’s Pee Dee epidemiological staff underwent training in the use of Powered Air Purifying Respirators — commonly known as PAPRs (pronounced “pappers”).

PAPRs include hoods and face shields to provide protection to health care workers from exposure to potential infectious airborne germs and viruses. These disease-causing agents are often transmitted when a sick person coughs, sneezes, vomits or undergoes a medical procedure. PAPRs, which are a type of personal protective equipment, provide an effective barrier to stop the spread of illness so the workers can provide care to a sick person.

Each member of the team was trained in the proper way to use the equipment, including how to put on, or “don,” and remove, or “doff,” the PAPRs, as well as replacement of filters and battery packs, and how to clean the equipment if it becomes contaminated.

It’s important to note that there are no cases of Ebola in South Carolina. But knowing that DHEC staff is training and preparing for this and other infectious diseases should be a comfort to all citizens of the state.

Congratulations and thanks for being prepared, Pee Dee epi staff!

DHEC Launches New Health Preparedness Network

By Jamie Shuster

HPN signupAs the state’s public health department, one of our most important missions is to help health care workers, organizations and first responders prepare to effectively identify and safely respond to possible public health threats. While we hope that dangerous diseases such as Ebola never appear in South Carolina, we are constantly working collaboratively with our health care partners in every corner of the state to make sure we’re ready to respond quickly to these kinds of emerging public health concerns.

That’s why this week DHEC launched our new Health Preparedness Network (HPN) to help ensure that all individuals who might be touched by a public health emergency receive the latest, most accurate information and guidance to facilitate early detection and prevention of potential outbreaks in South Carolina. Unlike our existing Health Alert Network, which focuses only on updating health care providers, HPN allows first responders, health care providers, school employees, coroners and funeral home staff, and even members of the general public to sign up to receive real-time updates and guidance on an ongoing basis.

One of the major benefits of this new approach is that it allows DHEC to push out information more quickly and to a broader audience than ever before through one streamlined communications tool. Now DHEC will be able to reach the state’s entire healthcare infrastructure and first responders all at once, which will enable both health care workers and organizations to receive information as quickly as possible and make needed adjustments to their service delivery process immediately to safely care for potential patients.

Thank you to our Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology (DADE) and Public Health Preparedness (PHP) teams in central office and our regions who continue to work tirelessly to make sure that South Carolina is prepared to rapidly respond to potentially serious health threats like the Ebola virus. For more information about the new Health Preparedness Network or to sign up to receive updates, click here.