Rethinking chemo (copy)

Dr. Jennifer Beatty, right, is launching a fitness program with her business partner at The Breast Place. Exercise has been been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer. File/Staff  

Medicaid invests in opioid treatment

The South Carolina Medicaid agency announced Wednesday it will invest $1.2 million into a pilot program called "Managing Abstinence in Newborns." The effort will target babies who are opioid-dependent. 

Four hospitals across the state — Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville, Easley Baptist Hospital in Easley, Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia and Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill — have been selected to participate in the first phase of the program. Medicaid spokeswoman Colleen Mullis said each hospital was selected based on an application process and demonstrated need. 

The agency will ultimately invest $2.5 million over five years and expand the program to 10 hospitals. 

“While we’re still early in the project, this community-driven investment is producing better health outcomes for South Carolina’s children every day," said S.C. Medicaid Director Joshua Baker, in a press release.

The program was originally developed at Greenville Memorial Hospital.

Surgeons launch fitness program

Breast cancer surgeons in North Charleston recently launched "a New Year’s resolution reboot" to encourage women to get out and exercise. 

“Exercise is taking a more prominent role in the treatment of breast cancer,” said Dr. Jennifer Fiorini, co-owner of The Breast Place. “Cardiovascular exercise three times per week has been proven to reduce breast cancer risk."

Women are encouraged to follow Fiorini and fellow surgeon Dr. Jennifer Beatty on Instagram and Facebook as they undertake this fitness journey. 

“We are working to improve the long-term survival rate,” said Beatty, in a press release. “Our fitness challenge provides support and structure to help patients succeed in developing healthy habits. It’s also a great way to encourage the community not to lose sight of their 2018 New Year’s goals.

Organ donations increase

We Are Sharing Hope SC, an organ and tissue recovery service, announced recently that 560 organs were transplanted from South Carolina donors last year — the highest number in the group's 33-year history. 

The state has emerged as "one of the top 5 most giving areas of the country in terms of organ donation," according to a press release. More than half of South Carolinians who sign up for credentials at the Department of Motor Vehicles register as organ donors. 

Feb. 14 was National Donor Day. 

MUSC to grow pediatric burn unit

The Medical University of South Carolina and Shriners Hospitals for Children are teaming up to expand services for pediatric burn victims. 

The partnership was announced during the Darius Rucker Big Band Concert at the Charleston Gaillard Center. Rucker holds the event annually to raise money for the new children's hospital, which is currently under construction. 

“When it comes to marshaling resources to make a positive difference for children in need, the Shriners have an incredible history of impact," said MUSC President David Cole, in a press release. "As a result, it was natural for MUSC to reach out to Shriners Hospitals for Children to leverage their expertise and experiences in pediatric burn care delivery.”

Clemson student makes brain cancer breakthrough

Clemson University recently announced an undergraduate senior made a scientific discovery about gene expression and brain tumors. 

Student Leland Dunwoodie specifically identified, for the first time, 22 genes that are implicated in glioblastoma. It is the most aggressive form of brain tumor, and the same type recently diagnosed in Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona. 

Dunwoodie's findings were published in a scientific journal in January. 

“I definitely didn’t come to Clemson thinking about brain cancer research,” Dunwoodie said in a press release. “I was working on a project with grapes and other plants. I told Dr. (Alex) Feltus that I wanted to do some human stuff, and he said, ‘That’s cool – pick an organ.’"

Dunwoodie plans to attend medical school. 

DHEC promotes healthy dental habits

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The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is taking the opportunity during National Children's Dental Health Month to encourage parents to help kids develop good oral hygiene habits. 

This year's theme is "Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth for a healthy smile."

The state health department advises children to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes and to go to the dentist regularly. 

Tooth decay is prevalent among children in South Carolina, research shows.

Decline in teen births saves money

A new analysis from a nonprofit group called "Power to Decide" determined that the decline in teen pregnancy in South Carolina since the early 1990s has yielded a cost savings of $85 million.  

The teen birth rate in this state has dropped 67 percent since 1991. 

The analysis found this decline saved money related to Medicaid, food stamps and welfare spending. 

"While we are impressed with these positive trends, we recognize work must continue by all of us to maintain success," said Beth De Santis, CEO of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, in a press release. "It is also imperative that communities continue to invest in teen pregnancy prevention efforts whether it be federal, state, corporate or individual funds in order to see continued success in South Carolina."

Cancer group seeks volunteers

CanCare, a support group designed to pair cancer patients with cancer survivors, will hold its next training program on March 22 at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant. 

According to a press release about the program, "To become a CanCare volunteer, the individual must be a cancer survivor who has been finished with treatments for at least six months or the caregiver of a cancer survivor and attend one CanCare Training Class."

To sign up to volunteer or for more information about the training program, contact Lynn Joye by phone, (843) 991-7502, or by email,

— Lauren Sausser

Lauren Sausser is the Features Editor at The Post and Courier. She also covers health care issues in South Carolina.

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