Fifteen years ago this month, I joined the staff at the newly formed South Carolina Public Health Institute (SCPHI). In 2011, SCPHI evolved into what is now known as the South Carolina Institute of Medicine & Public Health (IMPH). When I came to the Institute, I found a team of passionate people, rallied around a shared mission of improving public health in South Carolina.

When I started at the Institute in 2009, South Carolina was a very different state. We have experienced numerous natural disasters that have affected the health of South Carolinians—on a generational scale. Many of our rural hospitals have closed their doors, straining an already overburdened acute care system. We have been through a pandemic that has forever altered the way we view health and health care delivery in our state. Although we have experienced extraordinary challenges, we remain optimistic about the future as we have made great strides toward improving public health in our state. During my tenure at the Institute, we have collaborated with partners to draft policy recommendations for our state’s behavioral health and long-term care systems to respond to the growing need for services. We’ve envisioned a health care workforce for the future, to support new models of care delivery and population level health improvement. We’ve supported efforts to fight chronic diseases and promote healthy lifestyles, understanding that the environments in which families live have a significant impact on their ability to make healthy choices.

In June of 2022, our team worked with the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) to provide opioid settlement fund strategies for communities across the state. We presented this work alongside the Governor and Attorney General to support communities as they make critical decisions to best support their friends and neighbors.

Our most recent convening, the Social Isolation Taskforce, brought together professionals, providers and patients to address a new kind of public health emergency, the growing prevalence of isolation among our state’s older adults. Together with partners at the South Carolina Department on Aging and the Office for the Study of Aging at the Arnold School of Public Health, an inclusive, ongoing coalition, South Carolina’s Operation to Confront Social Isolation and Loneliness (SOCIAL Aging) was formed.

None of this work would be possible without the IMPH Board of Directors and staff. As the heart of our organization, they work diligently to prioritize our state’s most pressing health issues and develop solutions for action. My predecessor, founding Executive Director Kester Freeman, Jr. continues to infuse his passion into the organization, reminding us to never slow down.

I want to also give my thanks to the many partners IMPH has worked with over the years. Through a spirit of collaboration, determination and hard work, we have made strides toward a healthier future for South Carolinians.

As I reflect on the last 15 years, I find myself excited and energized for the future, and I cannot wait to see what the next 15 years will bring for IMPH and South Carolina.

With deep gratitude and appreciation,

Maya Pack