Task force reviews health and environmental services in SC

State News

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — A task force charged with evaluating the organizational framework and responsibilities related to the health and environmental protection services in South Carolina gave their recommendations to state leaders this week.

The Task Force to Strengthen the Health and Promote the Environment of South Carolina, also known as SHaPE SC, began meeting in June.

Over the last five months, the task force has crafted a report for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Wednesday they shared that report with DHEC’s Board.

Members of SHaPE SC came up with twenty-eight recommendations to improve DHEC, the state Department of Mental Health and other agencies.

They suggested improved funding for the agencies and higher salaries for employees. They also recommended better communication within the agencies, the community and with state lawmakers.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would restructure DHEC. It would essentially split the agency that oversees the state’s public health and environment. That House and Senate versions of this legislation remains in committee.

Officials with SHaPE SC said they couldn’t come to a consensus on restructuring. Facilitator Bernie Hawkins said, “There was certainly a vigorous discussion on whether alignment changes would be beneficial but we couldn’t reach a consensus between the three committees on that point.”

DHEC’s board approved SHaPE SC’s report Wednesday morning. DHEC Director Dr. Edward Simmer said his agency would begin work implementing some of these recommendations regardless of what lawmakers decide to do with the agency in the future.

He told the board, “We intend to pull our leadership together and assign each one of these areas to people who are the right owners for these and set timelines for things to get done.”

The Board also voted to send the report to the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President.

To read the full report, click here.

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