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Monday
Jul222013

Record Mosquito Populations No Big Surprise

You're not imagining that high-pitched whine in your ear or the itch on your arm. Mosquito populations across the country are booming following extended periods of heat, humidity and above-average rainfall. The blood-sucking bugs are booming in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire and other states. The swarm has led some to worry about a resulting increase in West Nile Virus, although experts say the disease isn't present in every state or every type of mosquito.
 
If you think it's still a bit early in the year to be seeing so many skeeters, you're right. Mosquitoes are usually at their worst in early August, but the hot, wet summer has sped up their breeding cycle according to AccuWeather.com, which says the bugs are hatching and maturing faster than normal.
 
Meanwhile, the West Nile Virus also spreads faster in warm weather. The disease hasn't been heavily present yet, though. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have only been 23 reported cases of West Nile Virus to date this year, most of which were in Mississippi, Nevada and South Dakota. None of the states were mosquito populations are currently booming have had any reported cases of West Nile Virus.
 
In part that may be because the weather has not affected all mosquito species equally. In Georgia, the Southern house mosquito, which carries the West Nile Virus, is not booming this year. According to a report from the Athens Banner-Herald, heavy rains washed that particular species out of the storm sewers where they normally hatch, lowering their population.
 
That doesn't mean Georgia is out of the woods, though. Asian tiger mosquitoes are present "by the millions" in the state because there is so much free-standing water.
 
Heavy rains in Virginia could also lead to booming bug populations. Experts warned readers of the Martinsville Bulletin to make sure there isn't any freestanding water in flower pots, gutters or other containers, since that's where female mosquitoes lay their eggs.
 
In South Carolina, crews have been out spraying for mosquitoes every night, trying to stop populations from exploding more than they already have. Calhoun County Mosquito Control Supervisor Ron Gibson told the Times and Democrat that this the worst year for skeeters in more than a decade.
 
The problem isn't only in the South. This is also the worst year in recent memory for mosquitoes in New Hampshire, according to the Sentinel Source. There, eggs that have long lain dormant have sprung to life after a particularly wet year. Luckily, tests have shown that the bugs there do not appear to be carrying West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis, another disease that can be relatively common in the region.
 
There is a bright side to the early swarms. Mosquitoes have a short lifespan, so if they are maturing early this year, they may also die out early. According to experts interviewed by AccuWeather, this year's mosquito season could be shorted to just two weeks instead of its usual four. That's news worth buzzing about.
Monday
Jul222013

Wastewater Smoke Test Set for Stovehaven Area July 23-25

Anderson County Wastewater Management will be performing a smoke test on sewer lines throughout Stonehaven Subdivision and the Dixon Rd. area on July 23-25. Smoke may be seen escaping from the sewer lines, service lines and plumbing roof vents on structures during the test.

The smoke is harmless. It is being applied to determine the need for preventative maintenance. The smoke testing will take place between 8:00 AM and 3:00 PM.

If you should have any question s, please call (864) 260-4023 between the hours of 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday.

Monday
Jul222013

Upstate in Serious Need of Foster Parents

Anderson County and the rest of the Upstate are in serious need of foster parents. In Anderson County 150 children are currently awaiting placement, many of whom are teenagers or those with special needs. 

The South Carolina Youth Advocate Program is working to provide training, support and a monthly stipend to qualified families willing to offer foster homes. 

There is also a specil need for sibling placements. Brothers and sisters who are not split into different homes or placed in group homes are better off than those who are not. The placement for older teens is also a critical area of need. 

"Having a consistent, loving adult in the life of a teen to help maneuver their everyday life experiences is priceless and needed," said Betsy Gray-Manning, recruiter for the Resource Family Program South Carolina Youth Advocate Program. 

The following are the number of children needing foster homes in the Upstate, listed by county:

Anderson- 150
Greenville- 291
Oconee- 63
Pickens- 138
Spartanburg- 128
Cherokee- 48
Abbeville- 17
Greenwood- 10
Laurens- 91
Newberry- 23

For more information contact Gray-Manning at 864-312-6700

Monday
Jul222013

G News: S.C. Schools Serving Healthiest Lunches

More South Carolina schools are serving healthier lunches than in any other state.

Almost 93 percent of South Carolina school districts meet standards implemented last year, according to figures states reported to the Agriculture Department. No other state had a compliance rate of 90 percent. Mississippi was second with 83.4 percent, followed by Florida at 82.3 percent. Nationally, 53.7 percent of school districts are meeting the regulations.

Congress required in 2010 that school lunch standards be updated with the goal of reducing childhood obesity and improving children’s diets.

The regulations call for more fruits and vegetables, and limit meats. Fat-free milk must be included, while any form of trans fat is prohibited.

States are reimbursed 6 cents per lunch served for school districts that meet regulations.

“We wanted to make sure we could provide nutritious meals according to USDA standard,” said Keith Ringer, program manager at the South Carolina Department of Education. He said the money received from the USDA will pay for more fruits and vegetables for student lunches.

Every school district in the country is required to meet the regulations, but there is no deadline. Every school within the district must meet regulations to get reimbursed.

Fritz Mason, public affairs officer for the South Carolina Department of Education, said the department has no problem accepting federal aid as long as it does not come with mandates. In 2009, Republican South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford rejected $700 million in federal economic stimulus money.

Full Story Here

Friday
Jul192013

S.C. Jobless Rate Up in June; Anderson Jumps to 8.2 Percent

The South Carolina unemployment rate was 8.1 percent in June, up slightly from the 8 percent in May, officials reported Thursday. Anderson County unemployment jumped from 7.2 to 8.2 percent.

In June, the number of unemployed people rose by 1,904 for a total of 174,423, and the

number of those who are employed decreased by 4,767. That brings the level of employed in South Carolina to 1,991,908, according to the state Department of Employment and Workforce.

Nationally, the unemployment rate remained at 7.6 percent.

Economists have warned that jobless rates could grow in May and June in-part because of high school and college graduates entering the labor market.

Nearly all of South Carolina’s 46 counties reported increased unemployment rates for June. County-level numbers aren’t adjusted seasonally, and agency data experts said those numbers likely went up because more people began looking for work.

Full Story Here

Friday
Jul192013

WSJ: Greenwood TB Outbreak Slow Response Brings Scrutiny 

South Carolina health officials are under fire for a delayed response to a tuberculosis outbreak at a rural elementary school in which hundreds of people were exposed to the contagious airborne disease, including 465 children who weren't tested until nearly three months after local nurses discovered the outbreak.

Alanzo Pearson, a student at Ninety Six Primary School in South Carolina, was among 1,526 children and adults to be tested for TB after an outbreak earlier this year. Here, Alanzo leaves a state testing site in June.

Some 53 of those children were infected with TB, including 10 who were diagnosed with an active form of the disease, meaning they had symptoms of TB that require lengthy drug treatment to cure. A person who is infected but doesn't have an active form of the disease still requires some treatment, usually just one drug.

All told, 1,526 adults and children have been tested, 106 were infected, and 12 developed active TB, according to state officials.

Several employees of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control were either fired or suspended; those fired include three nurses and the head of the state's TB unit. The nurses have each filed lawsuits against the state seeking lost wages and other damages.

DHEC Director Catherine Templeton said this week in multiple statements that her department had botched the probe, waiting until late May to notify parents after local nurses discovered the possible outbreak at Ninety Six Primary School in rural Greenwood County in early March.

The local DHEC nurses became concerned after a visibly ill school custodian went to the hospital and tested positive for TB. The hospital on March 8 notified the local health department nurses, who began an investigation by visiting the janitor at home and contacting supervisors in Columbia, according to court filings.

The nurses tested some school staff and asked several times for permission from state health department administrators to begin informing parents and administering TB tests to children and other staff, but it wasn't granted, according to their lawyer and correspondence in court filings.

Ms. Templeton, the director, learned of the outbreak during an unrelated site visit to Greenwood County in late May and started an immediate investigation, according to a spokesman. The state later called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which said it sent two epidemiologists who spent about a week earlier this month assisting with the investigation.

In a statement Thursday, Ms. Templeton laid much of the blame at the feet of the three local nurses, who she says didn't follow procedures and didn't do enough to grab their supervisors' attention in a crisis. "The investigation did not begin in a timely manner, the public-health protocols were ignored, and the conclusions from the investigation were nonsensical," Ms. Templeton said. She added that the nurses "could have obtained the authority they needed to properly conduct the investigation by contacting me."

State officials said the children with active TB weren't infectious. But children infected with TB have to be treated and watched carefully, TB experts say. They may have more subtle symptoms, or become infected in other parts of the body aside from the lungs. Young children are also particularly at risk of developing active TB if infected, TB experts say.

Full Story Here

Thursday
Jul182013

Plastic Omnium Collapse Cause Under Review

The cause collapse of Plastic Omnium's expansion struction under construction last night is under review. A source speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Anderson Observer, that weather might not have been the chief cause of the almost total collapse of the steel frame of the planned addition to the plant.

Story developing...

Thursday
Jul182013

Bloomberg: Psychiatric Patient Stuck in AnMed ER for 38 Days

Growing Problem Nationwide

When a mentally ill patient arrived at AnMed Health Medical Centers’ emergency room in May, staff at the Anderson, South Carolina, facility scurried to find a hospital with enough room for an admission.

Everywhere was full, including a nearby psychiatric hospital. Unable to find any place that had available beds, the patient spent 13 days languishing in the ER. Such stays are increasingly common at the hospital -- in one case last year a patient was stuck in the ER for 38 days, costing the hospital $56,392 on extra nursing, security and physician care.

“It’s a continuous onslaught,” said David Cothran, director of emergency services at AnMed Health. “Budget cuts for outpatient and inpatient psychiatric care have made the ER the safety net. It’s unreal.”

U.S. hospital emergency rooms are becoming holding pens for psychiatric patients. People are being kept on site for days and sometimes weeks, a symptom of an overtaxed health system grappling with steep cuts to mental-health services. The number of psychiatric beds nationwide has decreased by at least 14 percent since 2005, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a nonprofit group that focuses on severe mental illness.

At the same time, almost 15 million visits to hospital emergency departments in 2010 involved a mental health or substance abuse diagnosis, according to the Rockville, Maryland-based Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. That’s up from about 10 million in 2005.

Perfect Storm

That number will probably soon rise dramatically. The U.S. Affordable Care Act, which begins its main expansion of health insurance Oct. 1, will extend coverage for about 25 million Americans who are now uninsured. Various provisions require benefit packages to include treatment for mental health by fiscal year 2014, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website.

The increase in patients with mental health coverage will likely overwhelm existing community-based treatment programs and providers, which may drive even more psychiatric patients to the ER, Mark Pearlmutter, a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, said in an interview.

“We already have the perfect storm of psychiatric patients in the ER, and until there are more resources, it will worsen,” he said. “Most hospitals are already at capacity and the extra volume and boarding would be extremely challenging.”

Holding the mentally ill endangers other patients because it ties up staff, adds to ER crowding, and leads to longer waits, said Robert Bitterman, president of Harbor Springs, Michigan-based Bitterman Health Law Consulting Group Inc.

Satan Fears

Cathy Heinz, 38, a lactation consultant in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has brought her 66-year old mother to the ER about eight times in four years, she said. Her mother has early-stage dementia and schizoaffective disorder, which can lead to abnormal mood and psychosis. In a crisis, she’ll think Satan is after her or that others are trying to kill her, she said.

The situation is often too extreme to first bring her to her doctor, Heinz said.

Every time she heads to the emergency room, Heinz packs a bag of crackers and other snacks because she knows it may be days before her mother gets a bed in a hospital psychiatric clinic. In November 2011, she stayed with her mother in the ER for about three days at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (127917MF) in Norfolk, Virginia, she said. During another three day stay in February, Heinz said nurses asked her to lock herself in a room with her mother because another patient was out of control.

Psychiatric Unit

Sentara Hospital declined to comment on Heinz’s experience due to patient confidentiality, Dale Gauding, a spokesman, said in an interview. Sentara Healthcare in December will open a 24-bed inpatient general psychiatric unit that also serves geriatric patients at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, partly to alleviate boarding in the ER, he said.

Virginia Beach has seen a doubling in psychiatric consults done in the ER over the past five years, Joanne Inman, vice president of operations at the hospital, said in an interview.

Security is often insufficient at some emergency departments and patients have escaped or become violent during their long stays, Heinz said.

“One time, someone broke out and was biting a nurse,” said Heinz. “One time I had to hold my mother back because I thought she was going to attack a doctor.”

Timely Manner

Almost 90 percent of emergency department administrators say they’re often or sometimes unable to transfer mental health patients in a timely manner, according to a 2010 study by Lafayette, Louisiana-based Schumacher Group, an ER management company.

More than 70 percent say they board these patients for 24 hours or longer, and 10 percent said they keep them a week or more.

Of the almost 129 million visits to U.S. hospital emergency rooms in 2010, an estimated 14 million involved mental health diagnoses and almost 40 percent of those patients were admitted to the hospital from the emergency room, according to the most recent data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Andre Walker, a 27-year-old schizophrenic who loved writing rap music and lived with his mother, was brought by ambulance to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, North Carolina, in April 2011 because he was having a psychiatric emergency.

An ER doctor evaluated him and decided at 6:45 p.m. that he needed to be committed to a mental health facility, according to a lawsuit filed in state court in Fayetteville. Cape Fear last year settled the lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed sum.

No Beds

At 8 p.m., there were still no available beds at several locations, according to the lawsuit, and Walker became more agitated. Around 9:20 p.m., Walker tried to leave. He was restrained by company police and security officers, according to the lawsuit.

One officer grabbed Walker in a choke hold and pulled him to the floor, according to the lawsuit, and three other officers grabbed other parts of his body. After a few minutes of struggle, Walker became unresponsive and was tied down with leather restraints, according to the lawsuit. Staff tried to resuscitate him and he died, based on the complaint.

The medical examiner concluded Walker died due to suffocation by restraint, the lawsuit states.

“Medical facilities should have someone in the ER that knows how to deal with patients who have a mental disorder,” said Andre’s mother, Valerie Walker, 54. “If they keep them there, if they board them there for hours, they should have a designated area for them and people who are trained deal with them.”

Lock Down

The lawsuit has been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties, Lou Patalano, general counsel and senior vice present of legal services at Cape Fear Valley Health System, said in an interview. He declined to comment further.

Keeping mentally ill patients in the ER is expensive. Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, has a locked, psychiatric emergency room on the floor above the main emergency room. It has safety features such as unbreakable glass windows where patients can be triaged quickly by a psychiatrist and a resident.

Oconee Medical Center’s ER in Seneca, South Carolina, has spent $21,060 this year on sitters to monitor psychiatric patients and has a room with cameras for violent patients.

“What do we do if they want to leave? I’m not going to go out in the parking lot and wrestle them,” Edwin Leap, an emergency room doctor, said in an interview.

Suicidal Patient

On a recent spring night at University of California San Diego Health System’s Hillcrest ER, a suicidal patient slumbered in a room with the lights kept off. He wakened to talk to the rushed ER doctor, James Dunford, who is also medical director for the city of San Diego’s emergency medical services system. Dunford assured him the hospital was trying to find an available bed. Until then, he’d have to stay in the ER.

In the doorway, the hospital posted an emergency department technician who makes as much as $25 an hour to keep watch around the clock. The sitter quietly thumbed through a dog-eared novel. Two other psychiatric patients were also being held in the room. At Hillcrest, one technician may watch up to three patients.

There are only 45 beds for the uninsured at the nearby county psychiatric hospital, and when they’re full, patients without coverage wait in the ER while staff calls around trying to find a place to take them. Between 1995 and 2010, the state lost 3,000 beds, almost a 30 percent drop, for psychiatric inpatient care than in 1995, according to the California Hospital Association report.

“It’s a real challenge,” says Dunford. “There are not enough beds, so we have to keep them here. It ties up beds, resources and staff.”

AnMed Health’s Cothran agrees. “You can’t get angry at the patient, they need the help,” he said. “Then when you have someone who acts up, it’s distressing to the little grandmother who is just waiting in the ER for care.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Armour in Washington at sarmour@bloomberg.net

Wednesday
Jul172013

United Way, AnMed, Police Sponsor Anti-Drug Program Event

Two North Charleston (South Carolina) police officers at the center of an innovative program to reform would-be criminals are coming to Anderson July 25, 6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Anderson Civic Center. This event is free and open to the public.

The North Charleston officers in charge of the program, narcotics detectives: Charity Prosser, a 39-year-old mother and wife, and her partner, Jamel Foster, a Navy veteran and father of four, were featured last March on National TV news magazine Dateline. The Stop and Take A New Direction (STAND) program ushers young men through a program aimed at getting entry level drug dealers to take jobs rather than continuing to sell narcotics.

“Violence is defined as “physical force exerted for the purpose of violating, damaging, or abusing,” and sadly, violence is a part of everyday life. It’s in our movies and television shows, and we live in a world where power is often established through violence”, stated Chief Jim Stewart of the City of Anderson Police Department.  “Being involved with drugs or violence guarantees you a trip to one of three places: the hospital, prison, or the grave.  Ending violence won’t happen unless we go beyond wishful thinking. The world is full of endless opportunities and it’s our responsibility to make it a better place by making ourselves better and that starts with setting that example for our youth.  Peacemaking is active work, hard work, and frustrating work.  Safety and security in a community comes from a network of cooperation. As a realist I know we will never eliminate violence, but we can lessen it.  We are all role models at some capacity but we have a choice on whether or not we want to make a positive or negative impact on the lives of our youth” he stated. 

Sponsored by the AnMed Health, the Anderson Police Department and the United Way of Anderson County, this candid conversation with the STAND officers is part of the Upstate Movement…107 Days of Nonviolence sponsored by FM station 107.3 JAMZ. The purpose of the 107 Days Movement is to inspire youth and adults of Upstate South Carolina to collaborate, communicate and facilitate events that encourage nonviolence. 

For additional information, contact Lynn Dingle (864) 226-3438.

Wednesday
Jul172013

AnMed Listed Among "Most Wired" Hospitals

AnMed Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s Most Wired hospitals and health systems, according to the 2013 Most Wired Survey. The survey results were released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. 

“This year’s Most Wired organizations exemplify progress through innovation” says Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “The hospital field can learn from these outstanding organizations ways that IT can help to improve efficiency.” 

Among the key findings this year, 69 percent of Most Wired hospitals and 60 percent of all surveyed hospitals report that medication orders are entered electronically by physicians. This represents a significant increase from 2004 results when only 27 percent of Most Wired hospitals and 12 percent of all hospitals responded, “Yes.” 

At AnMed Health, information technology is an integral part of providing care. Patient medical records have been electronic since 2000, and AnMed Health was the first in the state to implement PACS, a picture archiving and communication system that gives doctors and clinicians instant and remote access to radiology images. AnMed Health has also introduced speech recognition software that transforms dictated reports into electronic text, allowing radiologists to produce more accurate reports quickly and easily. Today, physicians routinely use a computer-based portal to review monitor data, nursing documentation and diagnostic test results.  

AnMed Health is in the process of bringing electronic health records to every owned doctor’s office. And in the hospital, handwritten orders are already a thing of the past. Physicians use a computerized physician order entry system (CPOE), which sends doctors’ orders directly to caregivers and departments without handwriting and legibility issues.  On nursing units, nurses scan barcodes to ensure patients receive the right medicine in the right dose at the right time, and Horizon Perinatal Care allows caregivers to electronically document and store maternal vital signs and fetal tracings in obstetrical patients.  

Wednesday
Jul172013

Report: S.C. Reserve Fund Among Top in Nation

South Carolina lawmakers had to make hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts following the Great Recession – and it appears to have had an interesting effect on the state’s spending.

In 2007, a year before the Great Recession hit, South Carolina’s reserves equaled 2.56 percent of its spending – good enough for 35th in the country, according to an analysis by the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group.

Rainy Day funds as percentage of spending, state-by-state, 2007. Map from The Tax Foundation.

Click map for larger view

But in 2013, South Carolina’s reserves equaled 6.04 percent of its spending, giving it the 10th best percentage in the country.

Rainy Day funds as percentage of spending, state-by-state, 2013. Map from The Tax Foundation.

Click map for larger view

“Although these rates are a far cry from 18% and fall below even the lower end of the spectrum of expected revenue shortfalls during an economic downturn (13%), they are nevertheless a significant improvement from 6 years ago,” Richard Borean, a spokesman for the Tax Foundation, said in a news release.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

Wednesday
Jul172013

Anderson NHC Honors Cathy Rudisill

Cathy Rudisill, center, was recently honored as the National HealthCare Corporation's Dietary Partner of the Year.Rudisill, center, is shown here at her awards ceremony with NHC South Carolina Regional Vice President Sonny Kinney, left, and Margaret Freeman, a former NHC S.C. Regional Dietician. Rudisill, who has been with NHC for more than 25 years, is also an active in the commmunity with the Special Olypics, where she is a champion swimmer and where she was chosen to participate in the World Special Olypics in Irelanda several years ago. She also participates in aeorbics classes at the YMCA, along with Zumba, kickboxing and sculpting classes.  

Wednesday
Jul172013

Verizon Invested $27 M in S.C. During First Half of 2013

Verizon Wireless announced today it invested over $27 million in South Carolina during the first half of 2013 to improve and expand its wireless broadband and voice networks. The company's high-speed 4G LTE wireless service is now available to more than 97 percent of all South Carolinians.

Verizon's coverage in South Carolina spans 27,806 square miles of the state.

Read more about Verizon Wireless Invests $27 Million in South Carolina Network In First Half of 2013 - BWWGeeksWorld by geeks.broadwayworld.com