Tag Archives: hospitals

DHEC Celebrates National Hospital Week

DHEC recognizes the American Hospital Association’s annual National Hospital Week by celebrating our hospitals and the professionals that work in them. South Carolina currently has 105 licensed hospitals staffed with nurses, doctors, practitioners and a variety of staff members that provide medical care, services, and compassion to patients.  

As hospitals continue to respond to the COVID-19 state of emergency, its skilled staff and factions of healthcare professionals are working diligently to prevent the spread of the virus while simultaneously treating up to the most severe COVID-19 patients.

“This pandemic is unprecedented and beyond what anyone could have imagined,“ said Charlene Bell, Interim Director of the Hospital Division in Healthcare Quality. “The way that hospitals from even the most rural regions of the state have promptly and pre-emptively communicated with local health departments and DHEC since the start of the outbreak in order to make sure that they have sufficient hospital beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), supplies, adequate staff, and infection control measures in place is outstanding.“

DHEC is also working closely with hospitals to contain and screen COVID-19 by creating alternate care sites (ACS), which include the following:

  • COVID-19 specimen collection sites
  • Mobile and popup testing clinics
  • Extension of a hospital’s emergency department (e.g., triage and screening tents)
  • COVID-19 isolation sites
  • Limited COVID-19 medical care isolation sites
  • Low-acuity alternate care sites

 “DHEC is working with hospitals in inspecting and opening up construction spaces so select ACS can be approved,” Charlene saidThe ACS are very important because they relieve hospitals from having too many patients in a common area at a time with a mix of COVID-19 positive and negative patients, and now COVID-19 patients can be allocated to the proper areas of the hospital without having to pass through unnecessary channels.Hospitals can separate these individuals and test, screen, and care for them in a far more timely and efficient matter.”

DHEC has currently approved 51 alternate care sites. The agency is also carefully monitoring the intensive care units of all hospitals daily.

“Frontline healthcare workers in South Carolina’s hospitals are the true heroes of COVID-19,” said Thornton Kirby, President and CEO of the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA).

The SCHA has is thanking healthcare workers throughout the state by deploying a “Healthcare Heroes Truck” to visit hospitals and share messages of appreciation.

DHEC thanks hospitals and the hundreds of staff at each facility for their sacrifices, skills, and life-saving work. COVID-19 has infiltrated every hospital and healthcare system in the state, and our hospitals continue to prove how incredibly efficient and compassionate they are by prioritizing every patient who enters their doors and positively affecting more lives than we can ever know.

DHEC’s mission to improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public is evident in our hospitals and the healthcare professionals who dedicate themselves to the most vulnerable in our communities.

The agency’s partnership with SCHA and celebrating National Hospital Week is a way we Promote Teamwork as well as Leadership and Collaboration. ​​​​​​​

DHEC in the News: Infant mortality, flu shots, Zero Harm Award

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

South Carolina DHEC releases new infant mortality data for 2016

(WCIV) — South Carolina DHEC released new information showing that South Carolina’s infant mortality has remained at 7.0 deaths per 1000 births.

This data shows four fewer deaths in 2016 then the in the previous year.

Recent reports say there is a 26 percent decrease in the overall rate of infant mortality in the last 20 years, even though data does show a slight increase in infant mortality among some populations.

DHEC provides flu shots to students

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is working with the school district to provide the flu vaccine at your child’s school this fall. The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent the flu.

Kershaw Health earns zero harm award

Kershaw Health has earned a South Carolina “Certified Zero Harm Award” from the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA) in recognition of the facility’s excellent work in preventing hospital-acquired infections.

Newborn Screening Awareness Month: Our Best Foot Forward

Newborn Staff Blog Photo 1

Newborn Screening and First Sound/Hearing Screening Program Staff
(Left to right): Tanya Spells, MS, MT(ASCP) Newborn Screening Program Manager, Tara Carroll, MCD, CCC/A First Sound Program Manager, Jyotsna Achanta, First Sound Program Data Manager, Dr. Eileen Walsh, Pediatric Medical Consultant, Janice Eichelberger, First Sound Program Coordinator, Dana Smith, R.N. Newborn Screening Follow Up Program Coordinator, Jennifer Schlub, RD, LD, Nutritionist IV                  

We celebrate Newborn Screening Awareness Month each September as more than just a casual observance. Screening babies for certain serious health conditions at birth is critical.

Identifying babies with potential health conditions at birth makes it possible to begin early intervention and/or treatment before harmful effects happen. Newborn Screening includes testing for inherited disorders, hearing loss and congenital heart defects.

Newborn screening in South Carolina

In South Carolina, we screen nearly 57,000 babies each year. So far in 2017, the newborn bloodspot screening program has identified 76 infants with inherited disorders and 28 cases of Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) have been reported by SC hospitals. Annually, 75-100 infants are identified with some form of hearing loss.  

The newborn screen originally began testing for just one disorder, Phenylketonuria (PKU). The South Carolina newborn screening test panel now includes 53 different disorders, such as Cystic Fibrosis, Sickle Cell disease and trait, Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID), Congenital Hypothyroidism, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, hearing loss, (CCHD), and multiple Inborn Errors of Metabolism. For a complete list and description please visit babysfirsttest.org/newborn-screening/states/south-carolina.

You may wonder how South Carolina came to screen for these disorders. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Advisory Committee on Heritable Disorders in Newborns and Children (ACHDNC) uses an evidence-based process to evaluate specific disorders for addition to the Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP).  Most US newborn screening programs follow the RUSP in determining the conditions for which infants are screened.

The programs that conduct the screenings

The Newborn Hearing Program, First Sound, assesses infants to detect hearing loss and every birthing hospital in the state checks infants for Critical Congenital Heart Disease (CCHD) to ensure newborns’ hearts are healthy.

The Newborn Screening Blood Spot Program (NBS) screens infants for inherited disorders via a panel of laboratory tests. A few drops of blood are collected 24-48 hours after birth by pricking an infant’s heel. Once the sample is collected, it is sent to the DHEC Public Health Laboratory, Newborn Screening section for testing. The NBS laboratory receives approximately 1,200 specimens each week.  The NBS Blood Spot Program operates six days a week, Monday-Saturday, most weeks of the year.

Newborn Staff Blog Photo 2 (3)

Public Health Newborn Screening Laboratory Director, Supervisor, and Staff

The Newborn Screening Lab has a group of laboratory technologists that performs the screening tests. Testing is initiated the day the specimen is received and most testing is completed within two days. The laboratory mails a final laboratory report for normal and abnormal test results to the individual or facility who submitted the specimen and to the physician of record. Any abnormal result is repeated for verification before follow-up staff is notified.

The Newborn Screening Program staff work closely with the pediatric medical consultant, primary healthcare providers, medical specialists and health departments around the state. Providers are notified of abnormal results by follow-up staff to ensure infants are getting the care required for the specific disorder which they screen positive. These patients are followed until a diagnosis is made by either the primary care provider or specialist to whom they are referred.

New disorders under consideration for addition to our test panel are Pompe Disease, Mucopolysaccharidosis Type 1 (MPS 1) and X-linked Adrenoleukodystrophy (X-ALD).

For more information

Keep up with current newborn screening initiatives in our quarterly newsletter, Footnotes. For more information about newborn screening in South Carolina, contact us at newbornscreening@dhec.sc.gov.

Promoting Breastfeeding in South Carolina

By Jamie Shuster

breastfeedingIt’s World Breastfeeding Week, which provides us with an opportunity to highlight the great work our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is doing to encourage more South Carolina women to breastfeed their babies.

Promoting breastfeeding is one of our priority focuses at DHEC Public Health. Increasing the number of women who choose to breastfeed is an effective, evidence-based strategy to fight childhood obesity. And we know that getting a good start is critical to helping moms successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding. Our WIC breastfeeding peer counseling program helps moms get off to a strong start by connecting new moms to education and support at the hospital before mom and baby are discharged. Continue reading

Addressing hospital-associated infections in South Carolina

By Jamie Shuster

Hospital-associated infections continue to be a serious public health concern. A new study released by the CDC this week reveals that 4 percent of patients develop a new infection while hospitalized, 11 percent of which turn deadly.

Here at DHEC Public Health, we provide data surveillance and reports on healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) to help health care organizations identify problems and track trends. Our healthcare-associated infections epidemiologist Kate Habicht does a great job overseeing this data collection and reporting to the 78 hospitals in South Carolina that are required to report this information under the Hospital Infections Disclosure Act (HIDA). Kate also provides support to the S.C. Hospital Association, which is the organization in our state that leads healthcare-associated infection prevention initiatives.

Each year, DHEC produces two reports on facility-specific HAIs that are distributed to hospitals and legislators, and is available to the general public on our website. These reports provide consumers and public health officials with a way to measure and compare South Carolina’s progress in preventing HAIs. They also help to promote better infection control practices across the state.

Special thanks to Kate for her hard work in monitoring and reporting HAIs. Her work is helping South Carolina health care providers identify ways to prevent these infections in the future.