Tag Archives: South Carolina

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!

The value of immunizations for infants can’t be overstated

Immunizations save lives. There is no denying it: Vaccines have drastically reduced infant death and disability caused by preventable diseases.

Just consider some of the milestones shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Through immunization, we can now protect infants and children from 14 vaccine-preventable diseases before age 2.
  • In the 1950s, nearly every child developed measles and, unfortunately, some even died from this serious disease. Many physicians today have never seen a case of the measles.
  • Among children born during 1994-2013, vaccination will prevent an estimated 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the course of their lifetimes. It also saves about $13.5 billion in direct costs.
  • The National Immunization Survey has consistently shown that childhood immunization rates for vaccines routinely recommended for children remain at or near record levels.

The importance of immunizations

Immunizations play a valuable role in protecting the health of not only our children, but families and communities. They not only help protect vaccinated individuals, but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

The success of vaccines in preventing disease can’t be overstated. Each year we pause to observe National Infant Immunization Week, which this year runs from April 22-29.  It is a time to highlight the importance of protecting infants from vaccine-preventable diseases and to celebrate the achievements of immunization programs in promoting healthy communities throughout the United States.  It is also a time to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring all children are fully protected from vaccine-preventable diseases through immunization.

Vaccine-preventable diseases still circulate in the United States and around the world, so continued vaccination is necessary to protect everyone from potential outbreaks. For example, measles is still common in many parts of the world, including some countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa, and travelers with measles continue to bring the disease into the United States. It’s easy for measles to spread when it reaches communities in the United States — or anywhere else — where groups of people are unvaccinated.

The best way to protect against childhood diseases

Remember, giving babies the recommended immunizations by age 2 is the best way to protect them from serious diseases, like whooping cough and measles.  Talk to your health care provider about what vaccines are recommended for your child, and make sure you keep all immunization and well-child appointments.  For more information about how to protect your child with immunizations, visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/protecting-children/index.html.

Make getting vaccinations less stressful

Even though you know you are keeping her safe from diseases, it’s hard to see your child cry when she gets her shots. But you can take some steps to make the process less stressful.

The CDC suggests trying the following tips before, during and after shots:

For babies and younger children

  • Distract and comfort your child by cuddling, singing or talking softly.
  • Smile and make eye contact with your child. Let your child know that everything is OK.
  • Comfort your child with a favorite toy or book. A blanket that smells familiar will help your child feel more comfortable.
  • Hold your child firmly on your lap, whenever possible.

For older children and adolescents

  • Take deep breaths with your child to help “blow out” the pain.
  • Point out interesting things in the room to help create distractions.
  • Tell or read stories. Be sure to pack their favorite book!
  • Support your child if he or she cries. Never scold a child for not “being brave.”

DHEC participates in national conference aimed at keeping plastics out marine waters and surrounding areas

On March 30, DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) participated in a national conference focused on the reduction and prevention of plastics in the ocean, coastal waters and surrounding areas, such as sand on the beach. Breaking Down Plastics brought together over 500 environmental experts, non-governmental organizations, public agencies, private companies and concerned citizens to discuss the impact that plastic pollution has on the ocean environment, public health and coastal communities.

OCRM’s Coastal Services Division Director, Dan Burger, moderated the panel Government Vanguards of the Aquatic Debris Movement. Dan highlighted OCRM’s efforts, including abandoned and poorly kept vessel removal, Adopt-A-Beach and its recent cigarette litter reduction pilot study on Folly Beach. Additionally, Dan talked about how DHEC is using its MyCoast mobile app to collect data that can be used to help target reduction and prevention efforts.

Panelists from the U.S. Army, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed the innovative roles government plays in plastic polymer research, plastic pollution source reduction and local partnership efforts that have resulted in significant pollution reduction and healthier environments. Outside at the Plastics Solutions Pavilion, DHEC staff members Liz Hartje (OCRM) and Adah Gorton (BLWM) distributed examples of innovative educational materials and discussed how DHEC works every day to foster partnerships, reduce pollution and promote recycling.

Although there is much work to be done, South Carolina’s coastal environment benefits from DHEC’s community-based pollution reduction efforts.

Complete conference details, including video of keynote speakers and panelists, is available at http://plastic.scaquarium.org/about.

To learn more about DHEC’s Marine Debris Program, please visit

http://www.scdhec.gov/HomeAndEnvironment/Water/CoastalManagement/MarineDebrisAbandonedVessel.

Maternal and Child Health shares information, tips for NPHW

During this National Public Health Week (April 3-9), divisions of the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health want to take a moment to highlight some programs as well as provide key information encouraging good health practices.

 Division of Children’s Health: First Sound

First Sound is South Carolina’s early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) program. All babies delivered in birthing hospitals are screened for hearing loss before going home. Some babies will need further evaluation to confirm results.

It is very important that babies are screened and, if recommended, follow up with further testing. Hearing loss occurs in newborn infants more frequently than any other health condition for which screening is required. Hearing is extremely important for the development of speech and language skills. Early detection of hearing loss enables the infant to receive early intervention services to avoid developmental delays in speech and language. Age-appropriate language development is essential to success in school.

Women, Infants and Children program (WIC)

WIC is a special supplemental nutrition program that also provides breastfeeding information, support and assistance.

  • WIC offers a positive clinic environment that supports breastfeeding
  • WIC mothers are encouraged to breastfeed their infants, unless there is a medical reason not to.
  • WIC mothers choosing to breastfeed are provided support and information through peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and other experts. Support groups, classes and breastfeeding educational materials are also available.
  • Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps and other supplies, if appropriate, to help with the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.

Division of Oral Health: A few brief messages dental health

  • Prevent tooth decay by brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
  • Pregnant women need to visit the dentist regularly even when pregnant.
  • Drink from the tap. Drinking fluoridated water is an easy way to prevent tooth decay.

Division of Women’s Health: Take precautions against Zika

The CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to areas with Zika risk.

  • Avoid traveling to affected regions, especially if you are or are trying to become pregnant.
  • Travelers should wear repellent for at least two weeks after returning because that’s how long the virus stays in a person’s bloodstream.
  • If a mosquito bites a person who has Zika in their blood, that mosquito can pick up the virus and pass it on to another human when it takes its next blood meal.
  • Travelers should also wait at least six months to have unprotected sex after visiting an area with risk of Zika because the virus can persist in semen and in the vaginal tract long after symptoms emerge.

Division of Research and Planning: Safe sleep reminder for babies

A safe sleep environment can help reduce a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other sleep-related causes of infant death. This is a good reminder for parents, family members and other caregivers of any infant under one year of age. This 1-minute video shows the ABC‘s of how to create a safe sleep environment for baby – Alone, on his/her Back, in a Crib (or other safety approved sleep surface):  https://youtu.be/Rs9Jw3uIoaU.

For more information

Visit the DHEC website for more information on the agency’s observance of National Public Health Week. You can also go to the official National Public Health Week website.

DHEC works to preserve, protect the health of all of South Carolina

By Lilian Peake, MD
Director, Health Services

When we at the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) say that our vision is healthy people living in healthy communities, we aren’t feeding South Carolinians some feel-good line. We mean it.

Protecting and preserving the collective health of residents and the communities in which they live is at the heart of what we do as the state’s public health agency.

Ensuring the well-being of entire populations

Although doctors do the critical work of treating diseases and injuries one patient at a time, we at DHEC are charged with addressing disease and injury for the state’s population as a whole. Instead of treating the individual who suffers a heart attack, we analyze the links between heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. That information allows DHEC and partners across the state to develop programs to prevent and control heart disease.

That’s the essence of public health: ensuring the well-being of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood or as large as a region or the entire state. When health care providers report an infectious disease outbreak, we are there. When the need arises to plan and prepare for the potential of a new threat like Zika virus entering our state, we are there. When natural disasters arise — whether a damaging hurricane or a perilous flood — we are there.

Agency’s skilled workers help build public education system

DHEC employs many skilled professionals and experts who work tirelessly to help build and maintain a public health system capable of preventing and responding to the various emergencies and outbreaks that sometimes arise. The work of these public health and environmental control professionals covers a wide range of areas, including chronic disease, aging, safe drinking water, disaster response, tobacco control and so much more.

The agency investigates nearly 400 acute disease outbreaks and 55,000 disease reports a year; conducts more than 90,000 inspections covering a diverse range of programs; and has legal responsibilities that include more than 360 state or federal statutes, regulations and provisos.

Our team uses a multiplicity of methods to help prevent and respond to public health threats and reverse negative trends. Those methods include developing educational materials and programs, administering needed services and proposing policy changes. Our work includes efforts to make sure everyone has an opportunity for a healthy life.

Helping hundreds of thousands stay healthy

With DHEC locations in all 46 counties around the state, residents make numerous clinic visits each year, whether for TB therapy or a flu vaccine. Three programs in particular comprise the vast majority of visits to our clinics: the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, Preventive Health (family planning services and STD testing/treatment) and Immunization.

DHEC helps hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians stay healthy every year. In 2016, the agency:

  • Delivered high‐quality health and wellness services to 757,813 South Carolinians in our community health
  • Provided nutrition counseling and assistance to 183,141 women, infants and
  • Provided 60,388 newborn screening test results for babies.
  • Evaluated 12,731 new sites for septic tanks, resulting in 8,988 permits.
  • Performed 39,504 food safety-related inspections, investigated 4,725 complaints, and issued 2,129 permits.
  • Conducted 12,800 initial investigations of potential rabies exposure, with 12,211 follow-up investigations involving wild and domestic animals.

Although we work year-round to educate and inform residents about a wide range of public health issues, this week — National Public Health Week (April 3-9) — gives us an opportunity to highlight the impact public health programs and services have on protecting and improving the well-being of all South Carolinians. We will spend this week celebrating the importance of public health and those who work in the field, while educating citizens about various health issues and how they can improve their quality of life.

It all feeds into our ultimate goal of ensuring that South Carolina remains a state where healthy people live in healthy communities.