Like many regions, South Carolina and North Carolina face serious health threats. When it comes to stroke, diabetes and obesity, our statistics are among the worst in the nation.
Consider these facts: In South Carolina, one in six African-Americans has been diagnosed with diabetes. One in ten adults in North Carolina has been diagnosed with diabetes, and it’s estimated that one in three has yet to be diagnosed. South Carolina and North Carolina are part of the “Stroke Belt” because our death rates from stroke are higher than national averages. In both states, approximately 30 percent of adults are obese.
This week, there’s good news. With a $15.3 million grant from the Duke Endowment to Health Sciences South Carolina, a first-in-the-nation, two-state collaborative has been launched to support those working to address such threats to public health.
Health Sciences South Carolina is leading the effort. In 2004, the visionary leaders of Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina, Greenville Health System, Palmetto Health System and Spartanburg Regional Health System formed Health Sciences, an organization committed to large-scale collaborative research. Soon thereafter, the collaborative expanded to include AnMed Health, McLeod Health and Self Regional Healthcare, creating a statewide, data-driven research organization focused on improving health and health care in South Carolina.
This grant enables Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University and their respective health systems to join the efforts of Health Sciences South Carolina to improve health in both states. Health Sciences’ research-enabling data and sophisticated analytics will be available to researchers and clinicians in both South Carolina and North Carolina, allowing these bright minds to work together more closely and use data to develop actionable plans aimed at reducing a wide range of health problems.
The Duke Endowment, a private foundation based in Charlotte, has had a long relationship with Health Sciences South Carolina. In 2006, the endowment made the largest health-care grant in its history — $21 million — toHealth Sciences; it made a second grant of $11.25 million in 2011. The grants supported efforts to build critical health-research infrastructure and tools that would serve as the foundation of statewide learning.
The Duke Endowment’s investment is well-timed. The nation’s health-care system is in a state of transition as it seeks to provide more people with higher quality care in new, more efficient ways. Health Sciences and its Learning Health System have been using data-driven research to achieve improved health quality and better delivery systems. Late last year, Health Sciences was recognized as a national model for collaborative health improvement by the Association of American Medical Colleges. The achievement demonstrated that Health Sciences and its collaborators are moving in the right direction.
We are excited about the strong leadership in place at Health Sciences South Carolina, most notably Dr. Helga Rippen, the new president and CEO. A national expert in health informatics, she also serves on the faculty of USC and Clemson. Dr. Rippen and the entire Health Sciences staff are uniquely qualified to bring together the top universities and health systems in South Carolina and North Carolina in a unified effort.
We couldn’t be more proud of this incredible collaboration to make good health possible for all South Carolinians and North Carolinians.
Ms. Shaw is a Greenville businesswoman and chair of the Duke Endowment Board of Trustees; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.