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DHEC regulates assisted living communities; new director appointed

DHEC regulates assisted living communities; new director appointed

On January 8, 2015, the Board of South Carolina Department Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a press release that Catherine Templeton was officially stepping down from her position as Director effective January 12, 2015.  During her term as the Secretary of Labor and as Director of DHEC, she was known as a reformer and she left some big shoes for her successor to fill.

Catherine Heigel, Director of SC DHECOn April 24, 2015, the board announced that it has selected and appoint Catherine Heigel as director of the Department.  Ms. Heigel was selected from 99 candidates that applied for the position during the nationwide search that began in February.  Her resume can be found at:

Board Chairman Allen Amsler said about her selection, “With her strong background and leadership skills, we are confident in Heigel’s ability to successfully continue the Board’s vision and propel the agency forward.”

Ms. Heigel holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina and a law degree from the Ohio State University School of Law.  She most recently served as General Counsel and Corporate Strategies Office for Elliott Davis Decosimo, LLC.

“Heigel’s expertise and knowledge in law and management will serve as valuable assets for the future of DHEC as we continue our work to promote and protect the health of the public and the environment,” said Amsler.

The board appoints DHEC directors to serve a four-year term.  The appointment is subject to approval by the Governor, and the advice and consent of the Senate.

How does DHEC impact Seniors in SC?

DHEC is a large organization with many divisions which provide many services relevant to seniors and those caring for seniors in our state.  Specifically, they inspect and provide permits for Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, In-Home Care and Home Health.  They provide In-home care options, licensing, public health information and food safety regulations.  All of these apply directly to seniors in addition to the many other divisions and services provided that impact our states population as a whole.  The rest of this article discusses the specific agency functions that relate to seniors.

In Home Care

DHEC’s Home Health Services may work with you if you have recently been discharged from a hospital or rehab facility or if you are having temporary or chronic health problems.  They may help you develop a personalized plan of care that meets your health care needs.  In order to qualify for services, you will need a physician’s order and in order to stay home, you will need a caregiver present in the home.  **Private duty aides and sitters are not covered under DHEC Home Health Services.  However, the Community Long Term Care (CLTC) which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services offers programs to help individuals who want to live at home, need assistance with their care, and are financially eligible for Medicaid.  The in-home services available through DHEC include:

  •         Skilled Nursing
  •         Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Medical Social Services
  • Home Health Aide
  • Care and Education of other Specialty Services:
    • Circulatory System Diseases
    • Endocrine System Diseases
    • Musculoskeletal System Diseases
    • Skin/Subcutaneous Diseases
    • Respiratory Disease

How are these services paid for?
The Home Health division provides many services, including home health services which may be paid for all or in part by:

  •         Medicare
  •         Medicare Advantage Programs
  • Medicaid
  • Medicaid HMO
  • Private Insurance Plans
  • Veterans Administration
  • Self Pay

Licensing Assisted Living, Home Health, In Home Care, Information, Maps and Public Health Information

The DHEC Division of Health Licensing is also a source of information on virtually any kind of health care provider including in home care agencies, home health agencies, assisted living facilities (which they call Community Residential Care Facilities) and Skilled Nursing Facilities. They also track and map public health information and provide a place for citizen’s to file complaints on licensed agencies.

According to their website, “the Division of Health Licensing has the ultimate goal of ensuring that individuals receiving care and services from healthcare activities licensed by DHEC are provided appropriate care and services in a manner and, in an environment that promotes their health, safety, and well-being.” They inspect and investigate healthcare facilities and providers, provide consultations as needed, and recommend enforcement actions as deemed appropriate.

Food Safety

DHEC is also responsible for inspecting and providing permits for food businesses as well as for assisted living and independent living communities.  Currently, they do not inspect kitchens in independent living communities so there is no rating for those facilities. They rate food providers using a scale of A, B or C.  They also offer educational information for home cooks which is available on their website.

If you are looking for help finding licensed agencies or providers for yourself or a senior loved one, we can help.  Sorting through websites looking for answers is time consuming and difficult, our job is to help make that easier for you and provide you the answers you need.

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