Local pediatric residents ace boards again
For the fourth consecutive year, all of the graduates of the Palmetto Health/University of South Carolina School of Medicine pediatrics residency program passed the American Board of Pediatrics certification examination.
This marks the ninth time in the last 14 years that graduates have achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the exam, a distinction that makes it one of the top pediatrics programs in the nation. It means the people running the program do a good job of selecting candidates and then a better job of teaching them.
This matters to South Carolinians because many of these new pediatricians decide to stay in the state. Nationally, about half of doctors end up staying in the state where they complete their residencies. For the Palmetto Health/USC School of Medicine pediatrics graduates, about 57 percent have stayed in the state since 1997.
“This kind of success continues to attract prospective residents from a growing list of medical schools from our region and beyond,” said Dr. Robert C. Holleman Jr., program director. “We already have a record number of applicants this year before these results even came in.”
For the graduates who complete the three-year residency program, passing the certification exam is the last step to becoming fully credentialed pediatricians. Nationally, fewer than 80 percent of pediatric residents have passed the certification exam on first try in recent years.
Breastfeeding rates rising in state program
The breastfeeding rate among South Carolina’s poor increased in the past year as part of an effort to improve the health of newborns.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control reported a 13 percent jump in the number of mothers in the state’s Women, Infants and Children program who are fully breastfeeding. The raw numbers jumped from 2,087 to 2,362.
“Breastfeeding is the first step in preventing childhood obesity,” said Colleen Donovan, director of the state Women, Infants and Children program. “Breastfed infants have a reduced rate of obesity compared to formula-fed infants. Infants who are exclusively breastfed have (fewer) food allergies and are generally healthier babies. Healthier children also lead to lower healthcare costs in the state.”
A federal grant has allowed the state to hire and train more breastfeeding peer counselors, who provide expectant and new mothers with information and encouragement. They also contact mothers after birth. The number of peer counselors in the state has increased to 47 from 26 in 2010.
Prescription drug card benefits United Way
The United Way Association of South Carolina has endorsed the Coast2Coast Rx card, a free prescription discount card that helps consumers save on the cost of prescription drugs.
Not only do users of the free cards save on prescription drugs, Coast2Coast contributes $1.25 to United Way of South Carolina each time a prescription is filled using the card.
For information on the Coast2Coast card, go to www.coast2coastrx.com.
There are dozens of different free prescription drug discount cards out there. All provide some level of discount at participating pharmacies. Most are free.
Check your home for dangerous radon
State health officials urge residents to get their homes tested for cancer-causing radon gas, and they are offering free test kits as encouragement.
Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the country has elevated levels of radon, which is difficult to monitor because it’s invisible, odorless and tasteless. Free test kits designed to monitor radon levels can be ordered from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s website or by calling (800) 768-0362. Kits also can be found at local hardware stores or ordered directly from radon testing companies.
The highest levels of radon in South Carolina are in the Upstate, but it occurs throughout the state. January is designated Radon Action Month to raise awareness about the problem.
Radon is dispersed to healthy levels in outdoor air but can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers.
Compiled by Joey Holleman