Welcome to 2018!
Happy New Year!
As we start 2018 with the excitement of meeting new challenges and opportunities to improve health and health care in South Carolina, it’s a time to reflect on last year and to advance that work in the new year. It is also a time to say thank you. Your collaboration and investment is what allows all of us to truly make a positive impact in our state.
Our key activities and accomplishments from the past year include:
- Offering the third session of the Health Policy Fellows Program for members of the General Assembly. We will formally recognize 13 new Fellows later this month. We also piloted a local version of the program in Florence County focusing on the social determinants of health and actions locally elected officials can take to include health in all policies and support economic development. We are grateful to The Duke Endowment, Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps for supporting our Fellows Program.
- Our continued work in behavioral health rooted in advancing the recommendations from the Behavioral Health Taskforce report, “Hope for Tomorrow: The Collective Approach for Transforming South Carolina’s Behavioral Health Systems,” laid the groundwork for the development and launch of the South Carolina Behavioral Health Coalition in August. The Institute remains deeply committed to this work and our participation within the Coalition.
- The Long-Term Care Implementation Leadership Council continued to focus on prioritized recommendations from the report, “Creating Direction: A Guide for Improving Long-Term Care in South Carolina.” The Leadership Council focused on the formative planning necessary to develop and implement a Vulnerable Adult Abuse Registry (Recommendation #14) and is collaborating with the South Carolina Bar’s Vulnerable Adult Task Force to create a report of best practices to inform critical aspects of enabling legislation.
- The SCale Down Initiative continues to make remarkable progress with active engagement from nearly 100 stakeholders to implement the State Obesity Action Plan. In 2017, the South Carolina Medical Association’s Childhood Obesity Taskforce officially merged with the SCale Down Initiative to eliminate duplication of effort and increase efficiency of state efforts for obesity prevention. Through this collaborative work, SCale Down continues to gain momentum and is making strides in addressing obesity in our state through policy, systems and environmental changes.
- Our Board of Directors continued to evolve with new executive leadership and the addition of new members. Ms. Pamela Lackey was named Chair and Mr. Joel A. Smith III Vice-Chair. Joining the board in 2017 were Representative Terry Alexander, Senator Ronnie Cromer, Dr. Chanita Hughes-Halbert, The Honorable Inez M. Tenenbaum and Dr. Windsor Westbrook Sherrill.
- The Institute expanded its commitment to providing opportunities for professional growth and development for students through recognizing the outstanding student research of Matt Yuen and by providing mentorship and practice opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from across the state, including Nikita Deshpande and Elijah Christian. Learn more about our newest practicum student, Sarah King, later this year!
- We welcomed new staff members Shaena Rouse and Katie Zenger to provide management of the SCale Down Initiative and health care workforce initiatives, respectively. Maya Pack and Megan Weis took on new roles as co-directors for the Institute.
It’s an exciting time filled with uncertainty for those of us working in health and health care, but through our shared focus and commitment to the need to improve health outcomes for all who live in South Carolina, we will continue to lead work for collective impact and health in all policies. Moving forward, we will continue to expand our Health Policy Fellows Program and engagement with alumni, provide updates on progress made on the recommendations from the Behavioral Health and Long-Term Care Taskforce reports, share expertise in health policy, facilitate progress on the collaborative work to advance obesity prevention through the SCale Down Initiative and launch conversations around the health care workforce in South Carolina.
We look forward to continued work with our valued partners in 2018 as a part of these and other events and initiatives.