Sunscreen dispenser

Ten dispensers like these were installed at the Riverdogs stadium on June 17. They dispense measured doses of 30 SPF sunscreen. Provided/Belmond Charleston Place.

Forgot your sunscreen? There may soon be dispensers of the stuff on the path to the beach and in the area's parks. 

There are already 10 of the sunscreen receptacles at the Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park stadium, installed last Sunday. The SPF 30 sunscreen is free at the dispensers.

The initiative is intended to help bring down cases of melanoma. More cases of the skin cancer have been diagnosed every year in South Carolina, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control. 

In 2015, 2,451 new cases were diagnosed, representing about 8 percent of all cancers in this state. One-hundred thirty-four people died of melanoma that year.

The death rate from melanoma has remained level over the years, even as the mortality rate for cancer on the whole has declined, according to DHEC. Young people between 18 and 25 years old are especially at risk for the disease, according to a press release from Belmond Charleston Place, a local organizer of the sunscreen receptacles. Other partners include the Medical University of South Carolina and the city of Charleston. 

Alexandra Bailey, spokeswoman for Belmond Charleston Place, said the city of Charleston has received more dispensers and staff are scouting where in each park they should be placed. The tentative list of parks include:

  • Washington Park
  • Waterfront Park
  • White Point Garden
  • Both entrances to the Ravenel Bridge
  • Marion Square
  • Brittlebank Park
  • Colonial Lake/Moultrie Playground
  • Hampton Park
  • Harmon Field/Herbert Hasel Pool
  • Hazel Parker Playground
  • Charleston Maritime Center
  • St. Julian Devine Community Center

Bailey said there is no definite date yet.

National organizers have put 4,000 dispensers in place across the country, in an effort to make sunscreen more easily available to the public.

Coordinators are hoping to raise $70,000 this year to fund the initiative. Donations to the campaign come along with incentives from Belmond Charleston Place, including a hotel stay for the highest tier. 

"We are always looking for corporate or personal sponsors and would love to get these in more areas outside of Charleston," Bailey said.

Opioid prescriptions dive in S.C.

A new report from the health consulting firm Avalere shows the volume of painkiller medications has dropped off as the state has responded to an epidemic of addiction and overdose. 

The report showed the amount of prescription opioids sold dropped by 11 percent across the country in 2017 compared to the year before. In South Carolina, the rate dropped by a little less, about 10 percent.

Avalere used data from the Drug Enforcement Agency for its study, which examined the effects of legislation in a number of states.

South Carolina passed a handful of laws this year. Gov. Henry McMaster signed nine into law recently, all aimed at curbing overuse of the pills.

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In 2016, 616 people died of an opioid overdose in this state, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The report concluded that stiffer laws have resulted in lower rates of prescriptions. It remains to be seen whether that will be true for South Carolina.

VA sensitive to LGBTQ patients

A report out June 15 shows the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center is a top performer in staff's "commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBTQ patients and their families."

The report, done annually by the Human Rights Campaign, gives accolades to medical facilities that offer equitable care by the organization's judgment. Criteria include nondiscrimination policies, equal visitation rights for same-sex partners and parents and education on LGBTQ issues for staff members.

“It is our mission here at the Ralph H. Johnson VA to treat each and every veteran with the utmost respect in our daily interactions,” said Scott Isaacks, director and CEO of the medical center, in a press release. “Our staff works tirelessly to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all patients.”

A free copy of the report is available at www.hrc.org/hei.

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

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