The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), as a centralized public health system, is well positioned to use resources provided by this grant to improve and build systems that will enhance agency capabilities and place funding directly into local communities, ultimately resulting in improved health outcomes for traditionally underserved populations. The disparities within our state and communities were accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent response effort further strained South Carolina’s already underfunded public health system. The ability to recruit and retain staff, particularly public health staff is especially challenging in today’s competitive workforce climate. SC EQUIPS will create systems which are Equity minded, Quality driven, United in community, Invested in service, Promote retention, and Support sustainability (EQUIPS). Through SC EQUIPS, we will demonstrate SC DHEC plans to implement new programs and strategies in South Carolina to ensure that the state public health agency is readily able to provide equitable health services.
DHEC intends to use these funds to enhance our capacity to provide local communities opportunities for improved health. Underserved populations within these communities are most impacted by lack of resources and additional public health staff will provide more direct services and engage with our communities, provide education and data, and facilitate assessments and health improvement planning processes so that DHEC will be better equipped to make informed public health decisions and provide necessary resources and services, resulting in improved health outcomes for South Carolina residents in need.
SC EQUIPS activities include but are not limited to: hiring of diverse staff in DHEC’s central office programs and local health departments; training, support and retention initiatives for new and existing staff; administering the grant; enacting data governance and data modernization policies; evaluation of proposed activities; increasing awareness and practice of diversity, equity and inclusion principles; program planning; increasing performance management and quality improvement capacity; instituting program management software, training and expanding continuous quality improvement training and utilization across public health; and paying for select infrastructure needs.
DHEC recognizes the significance of providing robust and equitable public health services to all parts of the state. The funding and resources provided by this grant will contribute to long-term outcomes, including accelerated prevention, preparedness, and response rate to emerging threats, and improved public health outcomes, both of which DHEC prioritizes as a part of our agency mission.