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.

Way to Grow!

By Cassandra Harris

10.17.14 Misty Pearson_ way to grow blog

We are proud to announce that our Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity was recently recognized by the University of North Carolina (UNC) Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, along with the Center for Training and Research Translation, for their efforts to promote healthy eating and physical activity in the child care setting. Instrumental to this effort, Misty Pearson, our Early Care and Education Coordinator, initiated a partnership with the SC Department of Social Services to help address the prevalence of childhood obesity in South Carolina.

Through the voluntary ABC Grow Healthy program, Pearson and our team continue to work with partners across the state to improve the nutrition and physical activity environments of child care providers. Together, we have developed nutrition and physical activity-related standards for incorporation into the statewide ABC Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System (ABC Quality).

“We recognize that developing healthy behaviors early in life provides the foundation for lifelong wellness,” said Pearson. “Through working with our partners across the state we are able to reach our youth at a critical time in their development, providing them with the tools they need to succeed.” Continue reading

Raising Awareness: Breast Cancer in SC

breast cancer walkBy Jamie Shuster

This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that 3,750 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 670 will die from the disease. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’d like to share with you a few of the great efforts our agency and individual staff members are taking to help increase access to screening services and raise awareness of this disease that impacts so many South Carolina families.

Best Chance Network

As many of you know, increasing access to services is one of our top priorities at DHEC and one of our most successful access initiatives is the Best Chance Network (BCN). BCN is collaboration between DHEC, the American Cancer Society, and more than 250 health care providers across the state. Working together, this year we’ve helped more than 11,000 low-income, uninsured women access potentially lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to them.

Women between the ages of 40 and 64 who do not have health insurance and who meet certain income guidelines are eligible for the program. I encourage each of you to take a moment to check out our BCN site to learn more about this important screening program and share the link with your friends and loved ones. Continue reading