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Guidelines allow for nursing home visits

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It was announced that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is providing new guidelines for limited outdoor visitation at nursing homes and community residential care facilities, commonly referred to as assisted living facilities.

“We understand how difficult it has been during these past few months for friends and families to be distanced from their loved ones who reside in nursing homes and similar facilities,” said Marshall Taylor, Acting Director of DHEC in the Sept. 1, statement. “We believe the visitation restrictions put in place have helped save lives and have helped protect the health and wellbeing of the dedicated workers who care for these residents.”

The agency said a facility’s ability to allow visitation depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to the following: Existing cases of the virus within the facility, the facility’s staffing capabilities and PPE availability and the facility’s ability to comply with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) testing requirements.

DHEC said the nursing home and assisted living facility will need a reasonable amount of time in order to meet the criteria outlined in these guidelines, meaning outdoor visitation will not be immediately available. South Carolinians are encouraged to coordinate directly with facilities to determine when visitation may be permitted and to coordinate visits when possible.

DHEC also recommends that these guidelines be used by intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

“Our first priority when developing these guidelines was to protect both the physical and mental health of our loved ones who call nursing homes and assisted living facilities their home,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director. “As we are all too aware, these vulnerable individuals are among those at highest risk for developing life-threatening and life-taking complications from COVID-19.”

The state health agency said limited outdoor visitation criteria and guidelines are based on the most recent CMS guidance for reopening nursing homes, CDC guidance for COVID-19 in nursing homes, and DHEC’s long-term care facility testing guidance, as well as visitation plans from other states.

For those facilities that are able to meet the criteria outlined in the guidelines, they may allow for physically distanced outdoor visitation for a limited period of time.

As of Sept, 1, 2020, there are 90 nursing homes in the state that meet the criteria of not having cases among residents or staff within the prior 14 days, and there are 31 nursing homes that have only had one case in the last 14 days.

Since visitation restrictions have been implemented to protect long-term care facility residents, 129 South Carolina nursing homes have taken advantage of the CMS COVID-19 Communicative Technology grant and received funding to connect residents with their family members using tablets, smart phones, and other devices.

This grant support provided a way for nursing home residents to see, hear and talk with their loved ones remotely.

“With these new guidelines, the Governor, DHEC, and the facilities that care for our loved ones are so happy to bring those critical connections from cyberspace to an outdoor space, and we look forward to many socially distanced but happy reunions,” Duwve said.

Pest management reducing disease and vectors on JB Charleston

The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron, pest management shop works with mission partners and multiple units controlling the pest population at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.

The pest management shop handles pests such as: palmetto bugs, mosquitos, filth flies, alligators, coyotes, and weeds on the flight line. If left unchecked, the common pests in any area can cause serious effects on a base and its surrounding community.

“You can have sanitation problems and diseases which can go rampant,” said Shanon Sheets, 628th CES pest management shop supervisor.

Senior Airman Jasmine Bergsieker, a pest management journeyman assigned to the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron, said one of the most important responsibilities of pest management is enabling the mission to continue without fear of infectious diseases or pests.

“For aircraft inspections we have to go on the C-17’s,” said Bergsieker. “If an aircraft were to get a mouse on it then we would go on there and try to get it.”

Pest management works with many different units and mission partners here on JB Charleston. Whether it be through how to get rid of pests while certain restrictions are in place, or getting notified there is an infestation that needs to be exterminated.

“We work with the joint base medical group in cases with bedbugs,” said Sheets In the mosquito fogging operations, we work conjunction with the National Guard Reserves. We coordinate through public health, public affairs, security forces and the Navy.

The geographic location of JB Charleston holds a set of unique operations that pest management handles. The Naval Weapons Station is located in an area where alligators can live, a situation Bergsieker has experienced handling in the past.

“Last year to preserve Charlie, the unofficial mascot of Joint Base Charleston, we had to remove some alligators,” said Bergsieker. “In one day we caught five alligators out of the Cooper River. It was unique opportunity getting to catch that many at one time. Not many other bases have alligators.”

Sheets said while the Naval Weapon Station is next to a river, it creates a place for many mosquitos to thrive. Pest management and public health work together to trap the female mosquitoes and send them to a lab to get tested. If there is a positive result then 510th Areal Spray Squadron, a Youngstown Air Reserve Station out of Vena, Ohio, sprays the areas mosquitos live in to reduce the population and the threat of spreading a particular disease.

“Our mission is to help deter the mosquitoes by putting out larvicide to keep the baby mosquitoes from maturing into full grown adults,” said Sheets. “We’re putting down a barrier treatment of chemicals on their landing and resting places. When they go during the day to rest in the shaded areas of vegetation and come into contact with the insecticide it kills them and we keep the population down reducing the spread of diseases.”

Sheets said even though it is a small career field, there are still important tasks being managed while at a home base or on deployment.

“We’re a very small career field, probably less than 300 active duty Air Force wide,” said Sheets. “Most bases will have a pest control shop. Normally whenever deployments happen, we get sent in with the first or second wave of engineers. So we can do vector controls on new bases for rodents, insects, flies, scorpions, spiders, snakes and feral animals.”

Whether pests are here at JB Charleston or anywhere else in the world, if there is a base, there are pests, and where there are pests, there is pest management.

Dorchester County farmer builds state’s first malt house

In the rural farming community of St. George, surrounded by fields of nearly-mature cotton and peanuts, the state’s first and only malt house operates around the clock to create a malt made from locally-grown barley.

Malted barley is used by brewers to make beer. Malting is the first step in the process of making those widely-consumed fermented beverages. Until recently, South Carolina’s breweries sourced their malted barley from out of state companies. But now the Palmetto Malt Company is providing South Carolina-grown, harvested and malted barley.

Owned and operated by Jared Weathers, the Palmetto Malt Company is located on the very land that Weathers’ family has farmed for more than 50 years. Last month Weathers and his business partner, Alex Reeves, completed their first batch of malted barley and Wide Awake Brewing Company, a start-up craft beer microbrewery in Berkeley County, is brewing the first beer made from the batch.

Farm to Froth’

When Weathers, 27, first proposed growing malting barley on his family’s farm, the idea was not received well; it can be difficult to grow the crop in South Carolina due to the high humidity. But Weathers, a craft beer enthusiast, recognized an increased demand for malted barley as more local breweries open across the region. And perhaps more importantly, as a young farmer, Weathers was looking for opportunities to diversify.

“It took a lot of persuasion to convince my dad to give up some of his land to plant barley instead of cotton,” Weathers said. “Barley yields in the South are about half of what they are in the North.”

Neither his father nor many others in his family knew much about the craft beer scene happening in the Palmetto State. Weathers himself was also new to exploring the brewing process but his interest was piqued by the agricultural side to beer making — or as he likes to say; “taking it from farm to froth.”

“The farming side is my favorite part of the (beer making) process,” Weathers said. “Getting to see barley in a field and then going into a brewery and getting to taste what you grew…”

jbonala / joy bonala/Journal Scene  

Jared Weathers, owner of Palmetto Malt Company, shows malted barley created in his malt house located in St. George.

At first Weathers considered opening a farm brewery in St. George but he quickly learned that breweries are quite competitive and he talked himself out of that idea. Instead, with his knowledge of growing and harvesting grains, Weathers decided to research the malting process. He flew to Texas to shadow a professional maltster and then he was hooked. After earning a malting certification from Colorado State University, Weathers and his business partner, Alex Reeves, planned what machines to buy and install in St. George.

Intelligent Malt

Having an established farm with a seed cleaner and a bagging line in place made it easier for Weathers to try a new crop. His family’s 2,000-acre farm already grew corn, wheat, oats, rye, and soybeans. Because barley is planted in November and harvested in April, it can be grown through the off season of other crops.

“We could plug it in where land would have been laid out,” Weathers said.

He used a special variety of barley seed called Violetta. The two-row winter barley originates in Germany and is known for its malting quality attributes, early sprouting, and resistance to disease.

Weather’s first attempt at growing the seed proved successful. He began malting his first harvest just a few weeks ago. He uses an Intelligent Malting Unit with a 5-ton capacity. The machine is the only one of its kind used in South Carolina. It is controlled with an ipad; the software allows Weather’s to build his own recipes, schedule batches and provide real-time feedback.

Jared Weathers uses an ipad to control his Intelligent Malt Unit on Thursday, September 3, 2020 in St. George.

Malting barley involves steeping, germinating and kilning the grain. The Intelligent Malt system uses a vertical design and is modular to grow with a maltster’s operation. The steeping tank allows for control over timing and air applications before grain moves down to the germination and kilning vessels. Once in germination and kilning, Weathers can adjust the system to create custom malts.

The entire process takes about a week to complete. Weathers said the most labor-intensive part is cleaning; he has to clean constantly.

After harvesting 200 acres of barley, Weathers has enough grain to malt 10,000 pounds of product each week until the next cycle. He’s currently selling malted barley to 15 breweries and said he hopes to expand his operation soon.

“Business has been very good, we’ve gotten a great reaction from the local breweries,” Weathers said. “It’s really great to see the community of South Carolina support South Carolina farmers and South Carolina agriculture.”

BCSD veteran teachers offer advice for first-year-teachers

Berkeley County School District is welcoming more than 100 new teachers to the district this upcoming school year.

Aug. 31 is the first day of school for teachers. To encourage and support new teachers as they prepare for their first year teaching, some of BCSD’s veteran teachers offered bits of tips and advice to help get rookie educators through the year.

The words of wisdom vary, but many teachers suggested similar tidbits: find a teacher who can be a mentor, be prepared for lessons to not go as planned and work on building relationships with students.

“You get to leave a lasting impression on the lives of your students. When they’ve left your classroom, make sure you’ve done everything you could to help that kid be successful. They might not say ‘thank you’, now, but down the road, they’ll always remember how you made them feel and that you genuinely ‘cared’ about them.” –Crystal Peace, P.E. teacher at Berkeley High

“Find a fellow teacher that you can laugh, cry or vent too. Set a schedule with getting papers copied, grading papers or lesson plans done so it doesn’t interfere with you having a life outside of the classroom.” –Brittany Berg, first-grade teacher at Westview Primary

“Build a good relationship with your grade level team, you will rely on each other throughout the year for planning, assessments, and ideas. Morning Meetings with your students are key to building a strong foundation in the classroom.” –Colleen Bendig, kindergarten teacher at Philip Simmons Elementary

“You really are your own boss when it comes to your teaching style and reaching the students in front of you. Be ready to take charge. … Teach to your strong points, but continue to strengthen your weak points to better round yourself out as a teacher.” –Greg Jasinski, AP Literature and LA and English teacher at Cross High

“Take the time developing and teaching effective classroom procedures in the beginning; this will save you time later this year, as well as in future years. Same goes for quality lessons.” –Katie McFarland, ESOL teacher at Sedgefield Middle

“I have found my textbook materials and online materials very helpful and useful. It is like having everything in one place. So that is helpful when it comes to planning and time management. Especially for first-year teachers who do not know where to look for or go for materials at this time. Overtime these materials will be revealed to teachers through professional development and from others who have had success.” –Lane Rouse, teacher cadet and ninth and 12th-grade geography teacher at Timberland High

“Teaching is a roller coaster ride with ups and downs but by the middle or towards the end of the school year it becomes calm. You never really know what any day will hold and that it is okay to struggle as long as you continue. There is a wonder about teaching you can only get through experience.” –Nicole Whitfield, eighth-grade science teacher at St. Stephen Middle

“Remember your why. Why did you want to be a teacher to begin with? When things get hard, focus on your why.” –Katelan Urbanic, second-grade teacher at Sangaree Elementary

“It is okay to make mistakes. We all do it. Even the most veteran teachers will admit that lessons didn’t go as planned or they didn’t handle a situation how they probably should have. What is most important is that we admit we made a mistake and that we try again.

Never give up on your students, your team or yourself.” –Meghan Lewis, fifth-grade math and science teacher at Berkeley Intermediate

“Focus on things you can control (inside your classroom), and intentionally invest in building positive professional relationships from day one with EVERY front office (guidance, nurse, budget, instructional coach, etc.) and custodial worker. They can be so helpful.” –Ben Lipari, JROTC teacher at Cross High