DHEC Awarded National Accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board

Director Simmer, MD: “Achieving national accreditation reaffirms DHEC’s commitment to excellence as we work with our partners to serve all South Carolinians.”

February 19, 2021


COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced it has been awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). Public health accreditation, which lasts five years, sets standards against which the nation’s governmental public health departments use to continuously improve the quality of their services and performance.

“At a time in our nation’s history when public health has been thrusted into the spotlight, DHEC hopes that achieving national accreditation will help reaffirm our commitment to putting people and their needs first,” said DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer, MD, MPH, DFAPA. “Together with our many community partners, we are focused on continually improving our services and performance to better protect the health and safety of all South Carolinians, now and well into the future.”

This national accreditation program is a nonprofit organization that receives support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Its aim is to advance and transform public health practices by championing performance improvement, strong infrastructure, and innovation. These goals are fully in sync with DHEC’s strategic plan and the agency’s core values of embracing service, inspiring innovation, promoting teamwork and pursuing excellence.

“The value of becoming nationally accredited through PHAB extends far beyond the interior walls of the health department,” said PHAB President and CEO Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN. “People living and working in communities served by these health departments can be assured that their health department is strong and has the capacity to protect and promote their health. Just going through the accreditation process itself helps health departments pinpoint the areas that are critical to improving the work they do for their communities.”

Often called the “backbone” of the public health system, public health departments are on the front lines of communities’ efforts to protect and promote health and prevent disease and injury. Across the nation, health departments provide services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; ensuring access to safe food, water, clean air, and life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to public health emergencies.

To achieve accreditation, health departments must go through a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets a set of quality standards and measures. During the accreditation process, DHEC has already taken several actions to improve core services, including:

  • Launching a new immunization information system to help the agency and immunization providers ensure access and availability of essential immunizations to help keep South Carolinians healthy.
  • Spearheading the successful statewide transition to eWIC, providing South Carolina families that qualify for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services access to healthy foods easier than ever before. South Carolina’s WIC program aims to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.
  • Collaborating with community partners across the state to develop a comprehensive statewide health improvement plan, Live Healthy SC.

Here’s what community partners from across South Carolina are saying:

“I started my career at DHEC and recall the initial conversations regarding accreditation as PHAB and the standards were developed,” said S.C. Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare’s Director of Community Engagement, Megan Weis, DrPH, MPH, MCHES. “This milestone in DHEC’s journey is a well-deserved recognition of the years of commitment and dedication to public health I have observed working with DHEC leadership and staff as a collaborative partner for numerous programs and initiatives.”

“We celebrate the accreditation of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control,” said Fact Forward Chief Executive Officer, E.A. “Beth” De Santis, MSN. “Their work is so vital to the equitable health of all our citizens and especially our young people. We have collaborated with DHEC for over 20 years and look forward to continuing our work with DHEC for many, many more.”

“The mission of the Center for Community Health Alignment at the Arnold School of Public Health of UofSC is to work with communities to co-create solutions towards health equity, and DHEC is one of our partners that helps us fulfill this commitment,” said the Center for Community Health Alignment Executive Director, Julie Smithwick. “The hard work that has gone into achieving accreditation is further evidence of DHEC’s commitment to South Carolina, and we look forward to building even stronger collaborations that build on community strengths and advance health equity.”

“This national accreditation has set South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control on a course to continually develop, revise, and improve its work to address public health standards,” said the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina Chair, Juana Spears Slade, CDM. “Thank you for including the Alliance for a Healthier South Carolina in this process.”


About the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board. The agency and its staff are committed to improving the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and the environment. Learn more about DHEC at scdhec.gov. For more information, please contact Cristi Moore at [email protected] or via phone at 803-898-7769.

About the Public Health Accreditation Board
The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) was created to serve as the national public health accrediting body and is jointly funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The development of national public health department accreditation has involved, and is supported by, public health leaders and practitioners from the national, state, local, Tribal, and territorial levels. For more information, contact PHAB Communications Manager Janalle Goosby at [email protected] Learn more about PHAB and accreditation at www.phaboard.org, and by signing up for the PHAB e-newsletter