Congrats to DHEC’s Newest Drug Control Inspectors

By Jamie Shuster

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Inspector Rachel Richman receives the J.P. Strom award from Deputy Director of the SC Criminal Justice Academy Mike Lanier. (L-R: Deputy Director Mike Lanier, Inspector Rachel Richman, Bureau of Drug Control Director Lisa Thomson.)

Many people don’t know that our Bureau of Drug Control (BDC) serves not only a regulatory role, but also provides enforcement of South Carolina’s Controlled Substances Act. In fact, our BDC inspectors are actually pharmacists who have undergone additional training and become state law enforcement officers.

Our BDC inspectors conduct onsite inspections and audits of pharmacies, hospitals, and practitioners to make sure they are properly recording, storing, and handling controlled substances. These important members of our Public Health team make recommendations and offer assistance to help these entities follow proper procedures in handling controlled substances. They respond to complaints and concerns reported to DHEC that sometimes indicate criminal activity or misuse of controlled substances. When warranted, our BDC inspectors also make arrests.

We are proud to introduce the two newest members of our BDC law enforcement team, Inspector Megan Bates and Inspector Rachel McCoy Richman. Both Bates and Richman recently graduated from the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy, where they took part in an intensive twelve week long course to become certified Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers.

During the graduation ceremony, Richman received the academy’s J.P. Storm Award for her outstanding academic achievements. The award is presented to the member of the graduating class with the highest cumulative academic average. She is the 4th member of the BDC to be a recipient of this honor.

Congratulations to Megan and Rachel, and thank you to all of our BDC inspectors for the work that you do every day to protect South Carolinians from potential abuse of controlled substances.

South Carolina’s infant mortality rate at all-time low

By Jamie Shuster

Every year wmom and babiee release new data on infant mortality in South Carolina to give our partners and health care providers a benchmark of how the state is doing in our efforts to reduce infant deaths. This year, I’m pleased to announce that the data shows South Carolina is making great strides in keeping babies healthy and safe.

The newly released 2013 data shows that the infant mortality rate in South Carolina has hit a record low. Between 2005 and 2013, our state’s infant mortality rate dropped by over 25%, from 9.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 6.9 in 2013.

One of the sharpest declines in infant deaths was among African-American babies, with rates dropping from 12.5 in 2012 to 10 in 2013. While disparities in infant mortality rates persist by race, South Carolina’s racial disparity in infant mortality rates between African-Americans and Whites has fallen below the national average for the first time ever. We’re also encouraged by a 41% decrease in accidental sleep-related deaths between 2012 and 2013, which suggests that our state’s safe sleep educational efforts are also making a difference. Continue reading

The ABCs of Safe Sleep

By Cassandra Harris

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If you’re a new parent, you may have noticed that your newborn does not share the same sleep schedules as the rest of your household.  While patterns may change, newborn babies sleep up to 16 hours a day. With so many hours spent asleep, it’s important to make sure that where and how your baby sleeps is safe.

Sleep-related accidents are among the leading causes of infant mortality in South Carolina. One of the best ways to prevent sleep related deaths is by following the ABC’s of Safe Sleep – leave your baby Alone on their Back in their Crib.

New data reveals a significant reduction in accidental sleep-related deaths among infants in South Carolina, highlighting a 41% drop from 2012 to 2013. To keep these numbers moving in the right direction, DHEC is partnering with organizations across the state to promote safe sleep education.

In collaboration with our partners at Children’s Trust and members of the SC Safe Sleep Coalition, we have developed a new curriculum to promote safe sleep best practices. Through providing across-the-board messaging, this curriculum ensures that anyone carrying or advising on the care of an infant (i.e. mothers, fathers, grandparents, doctors, nurses, daycare workers, etc.) receives consistent education. In addition, we are working to increase safe sleep education in counties with the most sleep-related deaths.

While DHEC and our partners continue to work to reduce the risk of sleep related accidents, the most important work begins at home. Here are some things that you can do to help promote infant safety:

  • Remember the ABCs: leave your baby Alone on their Back in their Crib without blankets, pillows or bumper pads.
  • Get healthy before you get pregnant:
    • Quit smoking – Pregnant women can call our Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free help.
    • Get chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension under control.

For more information on safe-sleep practices, please visit: http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/ChildTeenHealth/EarlyChildhood/InfantSleepSafety/. ​