Community Outreach  > Community Health Initiatives  > Accomplishments 


Palmetto Health Office of Community Health
Summary of Issues and Accomplishments, 1998–2006

Cancer Initiative

The Challenge: Cancer is the second leading cause of death in South Carolina. Minorities die from cancers such as prostate, breast, lung and cervical cancer at higher rates. Factors such as lack of health insurance or transportation can impede access to health care, leading to late diagnosis and poor chances of survival.

The Solution: A community cancer education and prevention program that provides screening, early diagnosis and treatment for those people who are uninsured and/or who have limited access to the health care system.

The Results:

  • We have provided more than 42,000 screenings; 109 people were found to have cancer and received appropriate follow-up treatment.
  • More than 3,200 people have participated in our smoking cessation classes, and more than 70 percent have successfully quit smoking.
  • We have provided tobacco prevention education for more than 23,000 sixth graders in Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties.

Diabetes Initiative

The Challenge: Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in South Carolina. An estimated 385,685 South Carolinians are unaware that they have diabetes. More than 3,000 South Carolinians die from diabets or other diseases associated with diabetes each year. African Americans are twice as likely to have diabetes than their white counterparts.

The Solution: A community-based diabetes initiative that provides a multi-pronged approach to early detection and prevention of type 2 diabetes through screening and nutrition and physical activity education.

The Results:

  • We have provided more than 11,700 screenings for type 2 diabetes; 143 people were found to have diabetes and 325 were pre-diabetic.
  • Approximately 3,210 people have enrolled in Healthy Richland's walking club. Participants have reported walking enough steps to circle the Earth four times.
  • Approximately 1,467 fifth-grade students and college freshmen have benefited from Healthy Richland's nutrition and physical activity programs. Students report weight loss and positive behavioral changes regarding diet and exercise.
  • The Diabetes Prevention Program was implemented to help patients diagnosed as pre-diabetic delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes through education and lifestyle change.

Teen Health Initiative

The Challenge: Although teen pregnancy rates are declining, South Carolina still ranks high.  Pregnant teens are less likely to receive prenatal care and are more likely to deliver prematurely. Children of teens are more likely to suffer health problems.

The Solution: Palmetto Health’s Teen Talk program helps teens make healthy choices by promoting self-esteem and encouraging goal setting through group discussions held at area schools. Palmetto Health’s Teen Reach program teaches teens about pregnancy prevention with help from the faith community.

The Results:

  • More than 3,000 teens from 36 schools in Richland, Lexington and Pickens counties have participated in the Teen Talk program.
  • Nearly 40 churches have taught more than 3,000 teens about pregnancy prevention.

Maternal and Child Health Initiative

The Challenge: Although infant mortality rates continue to decrease, African-American babies are still dying at twice the rate of white babies. The number of low birth weight babies born to African Americans also is twice as high than for whites.

The Solution: Palmetto Healthy Start, a national initiative operated through a federally funded grant, works to reduce infant mortality, the number of low birth-weight babies and other health disparities in Richland, Lexington and Fairfield counties through education and outreach.

The Results:

  • We have provided prenatal care and found medical homes for approximately 7,000 medically indigent pregnant women and infants.
  • More than 2,000 participants have attended our free childbirth classes.
  • We have provided dental screenings to more than 2,400 pregnant women since 2002.
  • Among Palmetto Healthy Start participants, the prematurity rate has decreased 47 percent from 2003–2006; the low birth-weight rate has decreased 65 percent.

Richland Care 

The Challenge: More than 19 percent of the population in South Carolina is without health insurance at any point in a year. The uninsured wait to seek healthcare services and report lower health status and worse health outcomes than their insured counterparts. This results in increased use of indigent hospital emergency department and inpatient services.

The Solution: Richland Care is a healthcare delivery system for residents of Richland County who have low incomes and who do not have health insurance. Healthcare services, including care management, are provided to participants for free or low-cost. A Community Coalition advises Richland Care and is comprised of more than 20 partnering organizations.

The Results:

  • Richland Care has touched the lives of more than 11,000 people and has helped participants receive needed healthcare services.
  • Richland Care participants have significantly reduced utilization of emergency departments and hospital inpatient services, yielding savings to the hospitals and healthcare community.

Community Partnerships

Palmetto Health also has funded several outstanding community health initiatives, including:

  • Family Service Center Medicaid Dental Programs
           —Free dental care services to more than 4,700 Medicaid children and 4,400 low-income, uninsured adults

  • Columbia Oral Health Clinic HIV/AIDS Dental Program
           —Free dental care services to more than 5,500 low-income, uninsured men and women living with HIV/AIDS

  • Palmetto Health Scholarship
           — Scholarships have been provided to 17 minority students pursuing master’s degrees in Health Services Policy Management at the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health; four are employed with Palmetto Health.

  • Parish Nurse Program
           — More than 18,000 free health services for Columbia’s elderly

  • Samaritan Clinic of Pickens County
           — More than 13,600 free patient visits and more than 96,600 prescriptions filled free of charge

  • Family Connection of South Carolina’s Breathe Easy Program
          — Emotional support and education for more than 700 underserved families who have children with asthma
          — Evaluation data show an 83 percent decrease in emergency room visits for children whose parents participate in the program

  • Free Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) for all middle and high schools in Richland and Pickens counties, including staff training.