Tag Archives: SCDHEC

June 19th is #WorldSickleCellDay

Today (June 19th) is World Sickle Cell Day!  Every year, the international health community recognizes Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) as a debilitating genetic disease that impacts families across the globe. Keeping individuals and communities informed about the struggles that come with daily management of SCD, can help raise awareness as well as debunk stereotypes and stigmas associated with persons who have SCD.   

SCD affects millions of people worldwide and is particularly common among people originating from sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, South America and Central America, and Mediterranean countries, such as Turkey, Greece and Italy.

SCD affects approximately 100,000 Americans and occurs in about 1 out of every 365 African-American births. Individuals living with SCD suffer from both acute and chronic complications that require frequent contact with the medical system. These complications include acute sickle cell pain, fever, and acute chest syndrome (ACS), which is the term used for a number of different findings that includes chest pain, cough, fever, hypoxia and new lung infiltrates.

Here are some quick facts about SCD:

  • Sickle Cell Disease is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. The red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle” and the cells die early, which causes a constant storage of red blood cells. Healthy red blood cells are round and move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
  • To get SCD, the trait must be inherited from both parents who already have the SCD trait. People with the trait usually do not have any of the signs of the disease and live a normal life, but they can pass the trait to their children.
  • SCD is diagnosed with a simple blood test.  It is most often found at birth during routine newborn screening tests. Early diagnosis and treatment are important.
  • There are several treatment options available for individuals living with different complications of SCD, but the only cure for SCD is a bone marrow or stem cell transplant.  Transplants are very risky, and can have serious side effects, including death.  For the transplant to work, the bone marrow must be a close match (usually a brother or sister). 

SCD and COVID-19

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there is significant concern that the overlap of lung disease from COVID-19 with ACS may result in increased complications and amplification of healthcare utilization among individuals with SCD. Patients with SCD often have underlying cardiopulmonary co-morbidities that may predispose them to poor outcomes if they become infected with COVID-19. Source: hematology.org. 

Below are recommendations from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America (SCDAA) for patients with SCD regarding COVID-19:

  • Patients and parents should be educated about COVID-19 signs and symptoms and the importance of physical distancing to limit chances of exposure and infection.
  • Patients and parents should receive counseling to continue to monitor for fever or other signs of infection. Call  hospital, doctor, or nurse first for advice on where to go for an evaluation.
  • Be sure that patients have an ample supply of all prescribed medication at home (including analgesics) to manage both acute and chronic pain.
  • Patients should adhere closely to the correct use of medications.

SCD Partnerships

DHEC is committed to educating the community and public about the availability of resources and services for individuals and families living with sickle cell disease.  DHEC’s Division of Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN), provides assistance to persons with sickle cell disease by covering services, such as, medical expenses, physician visits, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and prescription drugs.  Assistance is offered to both children and adults who meet eligibility requirements. 

Additionally, CYSHCN engages with the four Sickle Community Based Organizations in the state — the James R. Clark Memorial Sickle Cell Foundation, – Louvenia D. Barksdale Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation, – Orangeburg Area Sickle Cell Foundation and – COBRA Human Services Agency Sickle Cell Program – to ensure persons living with SCD have access to community resources and support services. 

DHEC recognizes National #DamSafety Awareness Day

Sunday, May 31st is National #DamSafety Awareness Day. This day serves to encourage responsibility for dam safety, while promoting the benefits dams offer to communities. DHEC’s Dam Safety Program and their dedicated work on tools and initiatives help dam owners and the state’s dam safety program handle significant rainfall and other events that have the potential to impact dams.

DHEC’s Dam Safety Program has undergone a rebirth since October 2015’s historic floods.  Through the investments from the State Legislature, the Dam Safety Program has been able to add staff and improve its capabilities, including expanding education and outreach for dam owners. The Dam Safety team includes six Regional Dam Safety Engineers, as well as staff and engineers in the Bureau of Water, to work on permitting, inspections and increase interactions with dam owners.

Working with Dam Owners

Working with dam owners is one of the most important aspects of dam safety. When an issue arises at a dam that could lead to failure, one of the most critical tasks for the owner is to lower the water level. One tool commonly used to lower water levels is a temporary siphon. The size and number of siphons required depends on the size of the reservoir and target water level. DHEC Dam Safety has developed a video to help dam owners through installation.

Telecommuting

DHEC Dam Safety has continued (relatively) routine operations while teleworking. Each Thursday morning, program staff from across the state connect together on Teams to discuss the development of webinars, tackling a challenging aspect of a permit review, or prepping for hurricane season. 

Hurricane Season

As Hurricane Season approaches, summer thunderstorms in South Carolina can sit over a drainage basin for an extended period of time and drop 6-8” of rain in a matter of hours. When such an event is forecast or has occurred, dam owners should:

  • Evaluate the water level in the pond/lake and determine if water levels can be safely lowered to make room for incoming flows.
  • Coordinate with dam owners and/ or property owners downstream.
  • Routinely clear debris from spillways.
  • Review your Emergency Action Plan.
  • Keep alert. As the storm passes, watch for rising waters.
  • Report any immediate safety concerns to the DHEC Dam Safety Program’s 24/7 line at 803-898- 1939.

Interns

For over 10 years, DHEC’s Dam Safety Program has brought on interns to assist with development of Emergency Action Plans, data management, and mapping. Interns have been hired full-time to start careers with the Dam Safety Program here at DHEC and other have gone to work in the private sector at companies such as Trane and Dominion Energy.

Upcoming Webinars

DHEC Dam Safety has partnered with FEMA and Argonne National Laboratory on a series of webinars for dam owners, with a focus on the unique challenges faced by those dams owned by HOAs. Two webinars have been completed and the recordings posted to DHEC’s YouTube page. Additional presentations are scheduled for June 2 and July 7.

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. ​​​​​​​

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.

Find Healthcare Services with DHEC’s “Find a Facility” Interactive Map

The start of a new year brings New Year’s resolutions, many of which are related to improving our health. Let DHEC help you find the healthcare facilities that can assist you with your resolutions by using our Find a Facility interactive map.

Accessible on any Internet-connected device, Find a Facility is an interactive map identifying all DHEC-licensed healthcare facilities. The map allows users to search for specific facilities or filter facility types based on the user’s preferences.

Licensed healthcare facilities available in the map:

  • Adult Day Care Facilities
  • Ambulatory Surgical Facilities
  • Birthing Centers
  • Body Piercing Facilities
  • Community Residential Care Facilities
  • Hearing Aid Specialists (permanent and temporary)
  • Home Health Agencies
  • Hospice Facilities and Programs
  • Hospitals
  • Intermediate Care Facilities (15-bed and +16-bed building types)
  • In-Home Care Providers
  • PSAD Facilities (inpatient and outpatient types)
  • Licensed Midwives
  • Midwife Apprentices
  • Nursing Homes
  • Renal Dialysis Facilities
  • Residential Treatment Facilities for Children and Adolescents
  • Tattoo Facilities

“This application is designed to help individuals conduct their own research on healthcare facilities and services,” said Gwendolyn Thompson, interim deputy director of Health Regulation. “Whether seeking a licensed tattoo facility or trying to find an in-home care provider, this map makes it easy to find important information all in one place.”

Clicking a pin on the zoomable map opens a detailed window for an individual facility that provides the following information:

  • Facility name
  • Facility physical address
  • Facility phone number
  • Facility administrator’s name and direct phone number
  • Facility email address (multiple, if applicable)
  • Facility license number and expiration date
  • County and ownership type of facility
  • Facility mailing address
  • Facility licensee name, if different than facility name
  • Licensed room capacities, if applicable, including:
    • Certified number of operation rooms
    • Certified number of endoscopy rooms
    • Certified number of procedure rooms
  • Regulation(s) that the facility complies with

Find a Facility is a public-use, interactive map and database, developed as a result of joint efforts between DHEC’s Health Regulations and GIS teams.

“This free application allows us to share our resources with the community at large,” said Veronica Moore, GIS program manager. “We encourage healthcare facilities, medical professionals and the general public to take advantage of the application and the valuable data it offers.”