Top executives opine on what's next for SC as Covid surges see more
After attending a Chamber of Commerce breakfast where a hospital CEO ticked off statistics about the number of unvaccinated patients suffering from Covid – many in their 20s and 30s – Nephron Pharmaceuticals CEO Lou Kennedy decided something had to be done.
So she mandated vaccination at her company and today, everyone at the West Columbia business, which manufactures generic respiratory products, has had the shot, she said. And she lost just 30 out of 2,000 employees over the decision.
“It was the right thing to do, and I encourage my fellow business leaders to follow suit,” Kennedy said. “Somebody had to be the first to do it, and why not make it us.”
In addition, Kennedy said, the company spent $2.5 million last year on people being out of work and overtime to cover them – money that could have been spent on innovation, such as the mask the company introduced for patients getting nebulizer treatments that protects the health care provider from respiratory droplets.
Kennedy spoke at an online event hosted by SC BIO, the Palmetto State’s life sciences group, to discuss what comes next in the pandemic.
South Carolina is still lagging in vaccinations, said SC BIO interim CEO Erin Ford, with Covid deaths on the rise.
By Sept. 7, just 49 percent of residents had been fully vaccinated, and 58 percent had had at least one shot, according to the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Meanwhile, nearly 780,000 cases had been confirmed by that date and 11,050 South Carolinians had died, DHEC reports.
But the number of vaccinations is slowly rising, Ford said, offering some hope that things will turn around.
The full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine pushed some people to get vaccinated in recent weeks, said Phyllis Arthur, vice president of infectious diseases and diagnostic policy at BIO Global, the world’s largest advocacy association representing member companies, state biotechnology groups, academic and research institutions.
But many are rolling up their sleeves after seeing how the Delta variant left loved ones sick and dying, she said.
“Delta is nearly twice as contagious as the previous variants,” she said. “And … (it) moved so quickly and spread so fast we saw a giant spike in cases and deaths. When immunization numbers go up, we will see cases come down.”
The speakers agreed that the greatest obstacle to making progress in the fight against the virus is the politicization of the pandemic and misinformation.
“There’s no R or D in the word science. It has nothing to do with your favorite politician,” said Kennedy. “This is science.”
Arthur said people should beware of misinformation and trust the scientists who’ve done the work on the virus.
“One of the things I ask people to do is look at the source of what you’re reading and hearing,” she said. “Look at the data yourself. It’s all publicly available and it’s very transparent.
And Dr. Matthew Cannon, dean of the Carolinas Campus of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, agreed.
“(It’s) being politicized, in my opinion, and I just hope people would look at it objectively, not through partisanship,” he said. “This is a public health crisis.”
Cannon said that as of Sept. 7, one Upstate hospital had 278 Covid patients and all but 25 were unvaccinated. Another had 566 Covid patients and all but 41 were unvaccinated. The average age of the vaccinated patients was 75 to 78, he said, and they were immunocompromised. The average age of the unvaccinated patients was 50, he said.
Though breakthrough cases occasionally occur among the vaccinated, Arthur said they typically are milder and of shorter duration.
She said she expects FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children younger than 12 in the next month or so and the Moderna vaccine in the next few months.
Kennedy said her antibody level dropped from 6,900 to 3,800 in recent weeks and is watching to see when the booster is approved.
There are still two steps to go before a booster is approved for the general population, but that it could come in a matter of weeks, Arthur said.
And Cannon said the college is working on research to determine when boosters should be given, noting the mRNA technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines has been around for years.
Arthur added that the mRNA technology will be able to be used for many vaccines and even disease treatments.
“You can speed the next product, and that can allow us to have many more innovations from the treatment perspective and the vaccine perspective,” she said. “It’s the same for monoclonal antibodies. And that will ripple through the industry for years to come.”
Cannon said he’s proud of the health care workers who are surrounded by contagious Covid patients putting them and their families at risk, but continue to step up every day for the greater good of the community.
Nonetheless, he said, he worries about the stress they endure, seeing so much loss and knowing it could be prevented.
Meanwhile, he said, although medical residents got the experience of learning how to work in the midst of a pandemic - something their predecessors never had - they are missing out on some hands-on training because hospitals are canceling elective procedures.
Kennedy said the employees who refused vaccination weren’t willing to listen to the science. And while she got lots of phone calls asking whether there were protests in the street about her mandate, it all went smoothly.
“There were a couple people grumbling in the plant,” she said, “but it amounted to much ado about nothing.”
All the speakers encouraged everyone to be vaccinated and wear masks.
“It will prevent you from giving the virus to someone else,” said Cannon, “or from them giving it to you.”
“We’re in this together,” said Arthur, “and we can get out of it together.”
Op-Ed: As a doctor in a COVID unit, I’m running out of compassion for the unvaccinated. Get the shotInfectious disease physician calls for vaccinations see more
My patient sat at the edge of his bed gasping for air while he tried to tell me his story, pausing to catch his breath after each word. The plastic tubes delivering oxygen through his nose hardly seemed adequate to stop his chest from heaving. He looked exhausted.
He had tested positive for the coronavirus 10 days ago. He was under 50, mildly hypertensive but otherwise in good health. Eight days earlier he started coughing and having severe fatigue. His doctor started him on antibiotics. It did not work.
Fearing his symptoms were worsening, he started taking some hydroxychloroquine he had found on the internet. It did not work.
He was now experiencing shortness of breath while doing routine daily activities such as walking from his bedroom to the bathroom or putting on his shoes. He was a shell of his former self. He eventually made his way to a facility where he could receive monoclonal antibodies, a lab-produced transfusion that substitutes for the body’s own antibodies. It did not work.
He finally ended up in the ER with dangerously low oxygen levels, exceedingly high inflammatory markers and patchy areas of infection all over his lungs. Nothing had helped. He was getting worse. He could not breathe. His wife and two young children were at home, all infected with the virus. He and his wife had decided not to get vaccinated.
Last year, a case like this would have flattened me. I would have wrestled with the sadness and how unfair life was. Battled with the angst of how unlucky he was. This year, I struggled to find sympathy. It was August 2021, not 2020. The vaccine had been widely available for months in the U.S., free to anyone who wanted it, even offered in drugstores and supermarkets. Cutting-edge, revolutionary, mind-blowing, lifesaving vaccines were available where people shopped for groceries, and they still didn’t want them.
Outside his hospital door, I took a deep breath — battening down my anger and frustration — and went in. I had been working the COVID-19 units for 17 months straight, all day, every day. I had cared for hundreds of COVID patients. We all had, without being able to take breaks long enough to help us recover from this unending ordeal. Compassion fatigue was setting in. For those of us who hadn’t left after the hardest year of our professional lives, even hope was now in short supply.
Shouting through my N95 mask and the noise of the HEPA filter, I introduced myself. I calmly asked him why he decided not to get vaccinated.
“Well, I’m not an anti-vaxxer or anything. I was just waiting for the FDA to approve the vaccine first. I didn’t want to take anything experimental. I didn’t want to be the government’s guinea pig, and I don’t trust that it’s safe,” he said.
“Well,” I said, “I can pretty much guarantee we would have never met had you gotten vaccinated, because you would have never been hospitalized. All of our COVID units are full and every single patient in them is unvaccinated. Numbers don’t lie. The vaccines work.”
This was a common excuse people gave for not getting vaccinated, fearing the vaccine because the Food and Drug Administration had granted it only emergency use authorization so far, not permanent approval. Yet the treatments he had turned to — antibiotics, monoclonal antibodies and hydroxychloroquine — were considered experimental, with mixed evidence to support their use.
The only proven lifesaver we’ve had in this pandemic is a vaccine that many people don’t want. A vaccine we give away to other countries because supply overwhelms demand in the U.S. A vaccine people in other countries stand in line for hours to receive, if they can get it at all.
“Well,” I said, “I am going to treat you with remdesivir, which only recently received FDA approval.” I explained that it had been under an EUA for most of last year and had not been studied or administered as widely as COVID-19 vaccines. That more than 353 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in the U.S. along with more than 4.7 billion doses worldwide without any overwhelming, catastrophic side effects. “Not nearly as many doses of remdesivir have been given or studied in people and its long-term side effects are still unknown,” I said. “Do you still want me to give it to you?”
“Yes” he responded, “Whatever it takes to save my life.”
It did not work.
My patient died nine days later of a stroke. We, the care team, reconciled this loss by telling ourselves: He made a personal choice not to get vaccinated, not to protect himself or his family. We did everything we could with what we had to save him. This year, this tragedy, this unnecessary, entirely preventable loss, was on him.
The burden of this pandemic now rests on the shoulders of the unvaccinated. On those who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to, a decision they defend by declaring, “Vaccination is a deeply personal choice.” But perhaps never in history has anyone’s personal choice affected the world as a whole as it does right now. When hundreds and thousands of people continue to die — when the most vulnerable members of society, our children, cannot be vaccinated — the luxury of choice ceases to exist.
If you believe the pandemic is almost over and I can ride it out, without getting vaccinated, you could not be more wrong. This virus will find you.
If you believe I’ll just wait until the FDA approves the vaccine first, you may not live to see the day.
If you believe if I get infected I’ll just go to the hospital and get treated, there is no guarantee we can save your life, nor even a promise we’ll have a bed for you.
If you believe I’m pregnant and I don’t want the vaccine to affect me, my baby or my future fertility, it matters little if you’re not alive to see your newborn.
If you believe I won’t get my children vaccinated because I don’t know what the long-term effects will be, it matters little if they don’t live long enough for you to find out.
If you believe I’ll just let everyone else get vaccinated around me so I don’t have to, there are 93 million eligible, unvaccinated people in the “herd” who think the same way you do and are getting in the way of ending this pandemic.
If you believe vaccinated people are getting infected anyway, so what’s the point?, the vaccine was built to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from severe illness. Instead of fatal pneumonia, those with breakthrough infections have a short, bad cold, so the vaccine has already proved itself. The vaccinated are not dying of COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has mutated countless times during this pandemic, adapting to survive. Stacked up against a human race that has resisted change every step of the way — including wearing masks, social distancing, quarantining and now refusing lifesaving vaccines — it is easy to see who will win this war if human behavior fails to change quickly.
The most effective thing you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and the world is to GET VACCINATED.
And it will work.
Anita Sircar is an infectious-disease physician and clinical instructor of health sciences at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Hospitals are currently part of LifePoint Health see more
During the June meeting, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Medical University Hospital Authority (MUHA) Board of Trustees voted to purchase Providence Health and KershawHealth, which are currently part of LifePoint Health. The acquisition will include three community hospitals, a freestanding emergency department (FSED) and affiliated physician practice locations serving communities in the Midlands.
Providence Health serves Columbia, S.C., and the surrounding region, with two full-service hospitals and a freestanding emergency room. KershawHealth is a full-service medical center located in Camden, S.C., which has been an affiliate of MUSC Health since 2015.
“This is an exciting day for MUSC and for the state as we continue to develop our network with the acquisition of these health care facilities and establish a larger footprint in rural and underserved counties,” said David J. Cole, M.D., FACS, MUSC president. “As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we understand that we have a responsibility to enable better access to complex, high-end care while working to facilitate the best-quality local care possible. This acquisition will broaden our ability to serve greater numbers of patients, families and communities and that is a reason to celebrate,” Cole stated.
“MUSC has tremendous potential to meet the growing needs of patients and families around our state. That is why we are excited about today’s announcement. As the only comprehensive health sciences facility in the state, with an unmatched record of patient care and meaningful research, MUSC has the unique capacity to improve health outcomes for those it serves,” said James Lemon, D.M.D., chairman of the MUSC board.
“We are excited about the prospect of joining MUSC Health,” said Terry Gunn, market chief executive officer of Providence Health and KershawHealth. “Our objective is and has always been positioning our facilities for success so that we can fulfill our purpose of delivering high-quality care close to home. Aligning Providence and Kershaw with a preeminent regional academic health system will benefit our employees, providers and community, giving us new opportunities to change what’s possible in health care for our region.”
“This acquisition has the potential to be transformative for the Midlands and state,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and vice president for Health Affairs, University. “Our team looks forward to welcoming the patients, families and employees of Providence Health and KershawHealth to the MUSC Health network. We cannot wait to move forward, connecting our education, research and comprehensive health care mission to the three hospitals in Columbia and Camden as well as the freestanding emergency department in Winnsboro and the affiliated practice locations across the Midlands.”
MUSC Health anticipates hiring all active employees in good standing at compensation levels generally consistent with current rates and fair market value. MUSC team members will meet with the administrators at each of the facilities to determine staffing and needs, with the intent to make operations as efficient and successful as possible, maximizing value to patients, families and their respective communities.
“MUSC Health has existing relationships with several of these facilities through our longstanding affiliate network,” Cawley explained. “Incorporating them into our regional hospital network is another step toward fulfilling MUSC’s charge: to provide the right care in the right place at the right time to every patient and family that we encounter. This acquisition supports these efforts by increasing the reach of our network, enhancing our ability to deliver the highest- quality care at maximum efficiency as well as greater value for more communities statewide. We are excited to be fully integrated now with KershawHealth and will continue to work with our present partners and affiliates in the Midlands region to increase health care access and improve health outcomes.”
Terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed. The transaction can only be finalized after review and approval by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, which provides fiscal oversight for the state and meets the public sector needs by delivering quality, cost-effective insurance, procurement and engineering services. In addition, other customary regulatory reviews must also be completed.
The MUSC/MUHA Board of Trustees serve as separate bodies to govern the university and hospital. For more information about the MUSC Board of Trustees, visit http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/leadership/board/index.html.
About The Medical University of South Carolina
Founded in 1824 in Charleston, MUSC is the oldest medical school in the South as well as the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center, with a unique charge to serve the state through education, research and patient care. Each year, MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges: Dental Medicine, Graduate Studies, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. MUSC brought in more than $271 million in biomedical research funds in fiscal year 2020, continuing to lead the state in obtaining National Institutes of Health funding, with more than $129.9 million. For information on academic programs, visit musc.edu.
As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest-quality patient care available while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan and nearly 325 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2020, for the sixth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina. To learn more about clinical patient services, visit muschealth.org.
MUSC and its affiliates have collective annual budgets of $3.4 billion. The more than 17,000 MUSC team members include world-class faculty, physicians, specialty providers and scientists who deliver groundbreaking education, research, technology and patient care.
About Providence Health
Providence Health is one of the top-rated health systems in Columbia, SC. In total, Providence employs more than 1,800 dedicated staff. Founded in 1938 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Providence is known statewide for outstanding clinical quality and compassionate care. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid services awarded Providence Health a 4-star rating. The Providence open heart surgery program has consistently ranked in the top 15 percent of open heart programs in the nation. Both orthopedics and cardiac services have received the South Carolina BlueCross BlueShield Blue Distinction Center designation. For more information, visit YourProvidenceHealth.com.
Founded in 1913 as Camden Hospital, KershawHealth is a full-service healthcare system proudly serving its community members in Kershaw County. KershawHealth is a 119-bed medical center and a 20-bed geriatric psychiatric unit. KershawHealth employs more than 700 dedicated staff. For more information, visit www.KershawHealth.org.
About LifePoint Health
LifePoint Health is a leading healthcare company dedicated to Making Communities Healthier®. Through its subsidiaries, it provides quality inpatient, outpatient and post-acute services close to home. LifePoint owns and operates community hospitals, regional health systems, physician practices, outpatient centers and post-acute facilities across the country. More information about the company can be found at www.LifePointHealth.net.
Columbia College partners for better health see more
Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center (dba Cooperative Health) and Columbia College are pleased to announce a partnership to bring health care services to its campus and the local community starting Monday, March 22.
Columbia Community Family Practice will provide primary and preventative services for adult and pediatric patients, in addition to behavioral health counseling. The practice will be housed inside a 2,000 square foot-building on the Columbia College campus, located at 4808 Colonial Drive.
“We are excited to be partnering with Cooperative Health to provide much needed services to our own campus and also to the broader neighborhood community,” said Dr. Tom Bogart, president of Columbia College. “Cooperative Health is an important health provider in the Midlands. This partnership is an example of how we are able to collaborate and respond to key issues in our community.”
Columbia Community Family Practice will promote optimal wellness in campus and community members by removing socioeconomic barriers to care; enabling individuals to make informed health decisions; and empowering individuals to be self-directed consumers of their health care services.
“Cooperative Health is ecstatic to partner with Columbia College to bring a comprehensive health care facility to its campus. The presence of Columbia Community Medical Practice will improve the health of the student body and others within the 29203 community. We would like to thank the dynamic leadership of Columbia College for making this possible and welcoming us,” said Peatra Cruz, Chief Organizational Development and Communications Officer.
La’Kia Singleton, MSN, FNP-BC, will serve as the lead provider at the Columbia Community Family Practice. She brings more than a decade of experience as a family nurse practitioner with a specialty of treating acute and chronic health conditions for all ages.
An opening for Columbia Community Family Practice was held at the site on Friday, March 19. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was invitation only but was live streamed on Cooperative Health and Columbia College Facebook channels. Columbia Community Family Practice will operate Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call (803) 888-1106 to schedule an appointment.
About Eau Claire Cooperative Health Center (dba Cooperative Health)
Cooperative Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and a Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) deemed facility. It operates as an independent non-profit organization providing primary care and preventative services with the aim of improving the health of patients on a community level. Cooperative Health offers comprehensive services including: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, women’s health, behavioral medicine, dental, pharmacy, orthopedics and podiatry. In 2019, Cooperative Health provided health care services to more than 61,000 patients throughout the Midlands of South Carolina. It has a network of sites located throughout medically underserved areas in Richland, Lexington, Fairfield, and Newberry counties. Cooperative Health is recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) as a Patient Centered Medical Home.
About Columbia College
Columbia College was founded in 1854 as Columbia Female College by the Methodist Conference of South Carolina. Columbia College continues to serve as an institution for higher education with approximately 1,200 male and female students in both undergraduate and graduate courses.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation expanding operations again, adding 380 jobs, $215.8 million investment$215.8 million investment will create 380 new jobs in Lexington County, SC see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nephron), a global leader in the production of generic respiratory medications and blow-fill-seal contract manufacturing, today announced plans to expand operations in Lexington County. The company's $215.8 million investment will create 380 new jobs.
A West Columbia, S.C.-based company, Nephron develops and produces safe, affordable generic inhalation solutions and suspension products, including those used to treat severe respiratory distress symptoms associated with COVID-19.
The company also operates an industry-leading 503B Outsourcing Facility division which produces pre-filled sterile syringes and IV bags for hospitals across America, in an effort to alleviate drug shortage needs. Nephron fills the needs of patients and health care professionals as they arise nationwide, and recently opened a CLIA-certified diagnostics lab.
Headquartered at 4500 12th Street in West Columbia, Nephron’s expansion will add new offices, a new warehouse and production space at its campus in Saxe-Gotha Industrial Park.
The expansion is expected to be completed by Q1 of 2021. Individuals interested in joining the Nephron team should visit https://www.nephronpharm.com/careers.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project.
“The Nephron family is extraordinarily grateful for the opportunity to grow in South Carolina. Thanks to our partnerships with state and local officials, and the trust they have placed in us, we have been able to provide life-saving medications to patients around the world and establish ourselves as the global leader in what we do. We are proud of these achievements and more, and we know our best days are ahead of us. That is what makes this latest announcement so special.” -Nephron Owner & CEO Lou Kennedy
“We are proud to have Nephron Pharmaceuticals in South Carolina. Since coming here they have become an integral part of the community, and recently have been vital in the fight against COVID-19. This new investment of more than $215 million creating 380 new jobs in Lexington County is a great win for Team South Carolina.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“Nephron is a longtime steward of South Carolina’s business community, and we congratulate them on their continued growth within our state. Today’s announcement is yet another big win for South Carolina, our people and our burgeoning life sciences sector.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“We are excited to continue to partner with such an innovative and forward-thinking company like Nephron Pharmaceuticals. We know that Lexington County is a great place to establish and grow a business, and Nephron’s continued success is a testament to good government-business relations.” -Lexington County Council Chairman Scott Whetstone
FIVE FAST FACTS
• Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation (Nephron) is expanding operations in Lexington County.
• The $215.8 million investment is projected to create 380 new jobs.
• Nephron is a global leader in the production of generic respiratory medications and blow-fill-seal contract manufacturing.
• Headquartered at 4500 12th Street in West Columbia, S.C.
• Individuals interested in joining the Nephron team should visit https://www.nephronpharm.com/careers.
Spartanburg Regional's Gibbs Cancer Center to open expanded facility see more
With a seven-story, $72 million expansion set to open on March 16, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System’s Gibbs Cancer Center plans to offer patients treatment beyond traditional chemotherapy and radiation.
At a ribbon-cutting held Thursday, staff unveiled the 191,000-square-foot expansion. The center includes a new physical therapy gym, patient accessible-kitchen, retail shop featuring wigs and prosthesis-fitting services and an on-site outpatient pharmacy. The facility offers radiation, medical and surgical oncology along with cyber knife technologies, centralized lab services, genetic counseling and an integrative medicine center.
“We’re blessed in the Upstate to have a world-class cancer center here that enables patients not to have to travel far,” said Tony Kouskolekas, Pelham Medical Center’s president. “They are able to get first-quality opinions and recommendations on cancer care, and what makes us a little different is that our doctors are committed to what we call multi-disciplinary care. Historically, they have gotten together to discuss someone’s case once someone was diagnosed with cancer. Now, the design of this building will allow them to come together while patients are in the building for multidisciplinary clinics, so that patients can get opinions from multiple providers while they are here for one visit.”
Kouskolekas expects that the center will bring 80 jobs to the area in its first stages, but notes that there is plenty of room to grow as needed.
“To be involved with the planning of this and working with our cancer team has just been another great facet, Kouskolekas said. “Our campus is poised for growth: we have plenty of land and so if we need to do something, we certainly can.”
According to Dr. Michael Starnes, Gibbs Cancer Center’s radiation oncology director, 36 exam rooms have been reserved for the March 16 opening, bringing the center to 75% capacity. Starnes said the center prioritizes clinical research and holistic care alongside traditional treatment measures. The integrative medicine center will allow patients a bridge to recovery through massage and art therapy, tai chi and cooking classes recorded for outpatient survivors to follow.
The new space raises the center’s capacity from less than 10 infusion treatment beds to 40 treatment rooms.
Dr. Heather Allen, a radiology oncologist at Gibbs Cancer Center, noted that the new facility streamlines and strengthens collaborative treatment opportunities spearheaded by oncologists Drs. James Bearden and Julian Josey when they founded the Gibbs Cancer Center 40 years ago.
“They were ahead of the game. This is the model that works, but it wasn’t in place 40 years ago. It was their vision to take a new paradigm shift in cancer treatment and bring it home to the local area,” Allen said.
MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion open see more
The long-awaited MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital and Pearl Tourville Women’s Pavilion opened Saturday, bringing a dedicated space for women’s and children’s health care to the Lowcountry.
In just under 12 hours, Medical University of South Carolina staff and partners transported almost 200 patients from the former MUSC Children’s Hospital on Ashley Avenue to the new building on the corner of Courtenay Drive and Calhoun Street.
“We saw an incredible amount of teamwork and a very professional approach to the whole thing, but also just a whole lot of joy,” said Mark Scheurer, MUSC Children’s Hospital chief medical officer and project leader. “It was really fun just watching the little things happen that you talked about in the planning period when they were just hypothetical.”
The 11-story hospital includes the state’s only level-one pediatric trauma and burn unit and the state’s largest level-four NICU.
Starting with patients in the neonatal intensive care unit, teams simultaneously transported patients along four routes with the use of 36 ambulances, Scheurer said.
The 11-story, 625,000-square-foot hospital includes a 20% increase in capacity. It has the state’s only level-one pediatric trauma and burn unit and the state’s largest level-four NICU. There also is an advanced fetal care center and a dedicated elevator for transporting mothers in labor from the hospital’s entrance directly to the fourth-floor maternity pavilion.
“This new hospital is so important for the community because it will offer a different experience for women and children and their families because they (the team) will be able to deliver care using new technology,” said Carolyn Donohue, MUSC’s executive director of nursing for children’s and women’s health. “It also involves our patients to be able to use that technology to improve their ability to communicate with the health care team and their family during the acute care of their hospitalization.”
This $389 million project was expected to open in October and then December. Neither opening took place delayed after setbacks from Hurricane Dorian and because the hospital didn’t pass safety and regulatory inspections.
The hospital began its operating room and outpatient services Monday. Staff members will continue to move in any remaining supplies and equipment and to monitor operations to make sure they work as smoothly as planned.
Life sciences in South Carolina is big business -- and getting bigger by the day. Read why... see more
In this article published simultaneously in Charleston Business Magazine, Columbia Business Magazine and Greenville Business Magazine, SCBIO CEO Sam Konduros paints a picture of the diversity of the rapidly-growing life sciences industry, and why the future is exceedingly bright -- and getting brighter -- as the $11.4 billion industry soars to new heights across South Carolina.
Life sciences in South Carolina spans a diverse spectrum—from major pharmaceutical companies to globally known medical device companies.
It encompasses start-ups and early stage innovation companies and embraces prestigious research universities and acclaimed health care systems employing some of America’s finest minds. It includes research and medical labs, bioscience-related distribution, even Bio-Ag tied to the state’s historical agricultural segment. Click to read complete article...
South Carolina’s $90-million research pipeline creates jobs and improves healthcare, researchers sayResearch pipeline adds jobs and improves healthcare in South Carolina see more
The $41.8 million that has flowed into Clemson University for three separate research centers could be the beginning of a larger enterprise that brings South Carolina new business, improved patient care and lower healthcare costs.
But success will hinge on how well some of the state’s largest institutions can work together, researchers said.
The funding comes from a National Institutes of Health program that is aimed at helping South Carolina, 22 other states and Puerto Rico establish Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence. Each has a specific research theme and can receive as much as $30 million distributed in three phases over 15 years. SC BioCRAFT, launched in 2009, has received two phases of funding totaling $20.3 million. Clemson officials announced Oct. 18 that SC-TRIMH received $11 million in its first phase of funding. EPIC started in 2015 with $10.5 million.
Those centers could be just the start of a continuous funding stream– a big one that transforms the South Carolina healthcare industry. Clemson officials are preparing to apply for a fourth center and have set a goal of continuously maintaining three centers. The plan would create a pipeline worth up to $90 million at any given time constantly flowing into South Carolina for biomedical research.
Clemson bioengineers lead two of the centers, SC BioCRAFT and SC-TRIMH. They said they rely on clinicians from Greenville Health System and the Medical University of South Carolina to guide their research, ensuring it remains relevant to what happens in real-world hospitals and clinics.
“Team effort is what is required,” said Naren Vyavahare, the director of SC BioCRAFT. “A lot of institutions are required for these big grants.”
One of the gems of the centers is that junior faculty members are mentored so that they can compete for their own federal funding. SC BioCRAFT is credited with mentoring 23 faculty members and generating $35 million in addition to the $20.3 million that funds the center itself. The center is also bearing fruit off campus. Research done at SC BioCRAFT has led to 16 patents, four spin-off companies and better care for patients suffering from ailments ranging from diabetes to traumatic brain injury.
The success of SC BioCRAFT could be a harbinger for the newest center, SC-TRIMH, which is led by Hai Yao, theErnest R. Norville Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering at Clemson.
A key part of SC-TRIMH’s mission is developing virtual human trials that would allow researchers to test new devices with computational models before trying them on humans. The idea is to close the gap between animal and human trials, allowing new devices to move from the lab to patients’ bedsides more quickly and less expensively. It’s an approach that has been used for drugs, but SC-TRIMH will be the first to try to apply it to medical devices, a step that could attract device manufacturers to the state, Yao said.
“The companies are going to come to us,” Yao said. “Why? Because we have the technology, and we have clinical partners here. So, we can test their products– not just test their products but use our technology to totally redesign their products.”
Initial research could apply to bad discs in the back, hip replacements and disorders of the temporomandibular joint, Yao said.
Martine LaBerge, chair of the Department of Bioengineering at Clemson, said SC-TRIMH could improve patient care for South Carolinians by staking a claim as a national leader in musculoskeletal health, the center’s primary focus.
“If we’re the leader, why would a patient need to fly to another state for treatment?” she asked. “We’ll become the leading health provider. Patients from other states may have to fly to South Carolina. This is our goal, and collaboration among institutions will be crucial to making it happen.”
Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research at Clemson, said officials are preparing to apply for a fourth center but will have to wait until 2020, because NIH rules limit each institution to three centers in the first two phases. He said that he is hopeful that SC BioCRAFT will receive Phase III funding.
“This is excellent for a university without a medical school,” Karanfil said. “Of course, with all credit, we are working with GHS, MUSC and USC. Their clinical expertise is indispensable.”
Vyavahare, the Hunter Endowed Chair at Clemson, took the lead in organizing the university’s first center, SC BioCRAFT, starting in 2006. The first proposal was rejected, and then a federal funding shortfall in 2008 put the program on hold for a year, he said. SC BioCRAFT received its first $10 million in 2009, and funding was renewed for the second phase five years later. Vyvahare said he is most proud of the center’s junior faculty.
SC BioCRAFT provided mentors who helped guide them through the research funding process, he said. The center also helped pay for new research equipment that is crucial to generating the data needed for a successful research proposal, Vyavahare said.
“It’s a good way to start your career quickly,” Vyavahare said. “A lot of people started getting good data, and everybody started getting funding.”
SC BioCRAFT is an acronym for the South Carolina Bioengineering Center for Regeneration and Formation of Tissues. SC-TRIMH stands for the South Carolina Center for Translational Research Improving Musculoskeletal Health. EPIC stands for Eukaryotic Pathogens Innovation Center.
Researchers said one of the key ingredients in the success of SC BioCRAFT and SC-TRIMH is Clemson’s deep integration with GHS and MUSC.
Both centers are based at the Clemson University Biomedical Engineering Innovation Campus, or CUBEInC, which is on the GHS Patewood Medical Campus in Greenville. Research is also conducted at MUSC, where Clemson has space in the medical university’s Bioengineering Building.
The value of collaboration was a consistent theme when researchers from the three institutions gathered to announce the creation of SC-TRIMH.
Scott Sasser, chief clinical officer for the GHS western region, said that Clemson was the health system’s primary research partner.
“That was by design, and it is unique,” he said. “We are so thankful for your investment in the medical school. The successful medical education of every student who walks through our doors is inextricably tied to your commitment to research that this project exemplifies.
“The novel methodology that will be used in this program will lead to new innovations and new devices that will not only change health outcomes but will help us all address the rising cost of healthcare in this country.”
Michael Kern, a professor in the Department of Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology at MUSC, said what excites him most about SC-TRIMH is the chance to continue working with Yao.
“My research and Hai’s research before the COBRE grant have dovetailed nicely,” he said, using the acronym for the NIH funding program. “We’ve worked quite closely together for the previous 12 years. With the COBRE, we will be able to continue our work together to benefit young investigators and help them mature in their science.”
Kathleen Brady, associate provost for clinical and translational science at MUSC, said collaboration is part of a growing trend in research because it leads to success.
“When groups get together, studying a similar problem, you’re much more likely to come up with innovative solutions,” she said. “They are usually innovative solutions that neither group could have come up with on their own. SC-TRIMH is a perfect example of that– people with very different expertise coming together to do something unique and innovative.”
Spence Taylor, president of GHS, said in a written statement that working together can lead to significantly improved health care and health outcomes in South Carolina and the nation.
“These innovative partnerships between Clemson faculty and GHS clinicians allow us to solve clinical challenges by leveraging medical insights with the extraordinary research depth of Clemson,” he said. “What we do today can pave the way for transformational improvements to health care for generations to come.”
Vincent Pellegrini, chair of the Department of Orthopedics at MUSC, said much of the SC-TRIMH research will focus on musculoskeletal conditions that result from normal aging, including arthritis at the base of the thumb, hip replacement prostheses and tendon degeneration.
“The really exciting thing about the COBRE is that it juxtaposes the engineering, science and clinical medicine with the appropriate individuals in those disciplines on the same campus under the same roof to come up with real, clinically relevant devices and products that benefit patients,” he said.
Michael Kissenberth, a GHS orthopedic surgeon, said the collaboration will allow the institutions to complement each other
“We at GHS will be able to advise on the clinical needs that Clemson can then use to develop the technology that improves health outcomes,” he said. “In some cases, the technology may exist, and we can help show how it can be applied.”
Kyle Jeray, a GHS orthopedic surgeon, said SC-TRIMH will strengthen the collaborative spirit in South Carolina’s research community.
“Through SC-TRIMH, we will enhance the research infrastructure at Clemson and GHS by developing essential core facilities, fostering research collaborations and increasing scientific expertise of junior and senior faculty members,” he said.
Windsor Sherrill, associate vice president for Health Research at Clemson and chief science officer at GHS, said she wanted to recognize Tommy Gallien, the manager/coordinator for SC-TRIMH. She also wanted to acknowledge the Clemson University School of Health Research, or CUSHR.
“CUSHR is the interdisciplinary health research entity at Clemson that connects health researchers across colleges and departments with clinical researchers at health care systems such as GHS and MUSC,” she said. “The junior investigators for the SC-TRIMH initiative are from several different departments, ensuring that we have multidisciplinary focus to solve complex health care problems. The big challenges in health care do not fit neatly within one discipline or even in one university. SC-TRIMH is the kind of program we envision with CUSHR– one that leverages talents across Clemson health research faculty with the input of clinicians research at our partner institutions.”
Anand Gramopadhye, dean of the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences, congratulated Yao and his team on the SC-TRIMH grant.
“Through this grant, Dr. Yao and his team from Clemson, GHS and MUSC are strengthening the biomedical research capacity for South Carolina,” he said. “The award is a testament to the scholarship that Dr. Yao brings to Clemson and the power of collaboration to achieve the most innovative results.”
MUSC expands footprint with acquisition of four community hospitals in South Carolina. see more
The Medical University of South Carolina board of trustees voted Monday night to acquire four community hospitals in north-central South Carolina and the Pee Dee.
Community Health Systems, a publicly traded hospital company based in Franklin, Tenn., plans to sell the hospitals, plus their associated physician clinics and outpatient services, to MUSC:
- Chester Regional Medical Center, an 82-bed licensed facility.
- Carolinas Hospital System in Florence, a 396-bed regional, acute-care facility.
- Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, a 225-bed all private-room facility.
- Carolinas Hospital System – Marion in Mullins, a 124-bed acute-care facility providing a variety of inpatient and outpatient services, as well as a 92-bed nursing center.
This is the first time MUSC has agreed to acquire other hospitals. Once the acquisition is complete, MUSC will employ more than 16,400 people throughout the state.
The Medical University of South Carolina's board of trustees voted Monday to acquire four community hospitals in the first quarter, pending approval by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority. (Photo/File)
“The additions will increase the size and scale of the MUSC Health network, and in today’s environment, larger, more efficient health care systems can deliver greater value to patients and have a positive impact on population health,” board Chairman Charles Schulze said in a news release. The MUSC board’s unanimous vote to approve the acquisition came after two hours of discussion in executive session during a special called meeting. Once called to order, the meeting almost immediately went into executive session, which is closed to the public, and the subsequent public vote took less than two minutes.
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter, according to a news release from Community Health Systems. MUSC spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said in an email that no dollar figure for the acquisition was available yet. The transaction must still be approved by the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, according to the board’s resolution.
“As the state’s leading academic health center, we must be prepared for the future,” MUSC President Dr. David Cole said in a news release. “MUSC is committed to providing the best health care possible for our communities and state through strategic partnerships and our emerging MUSC Health network.”
MUSC receives grant for expansion of telehealth program see more
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) palliative care program has received a $1,278,000 grant from The Duke Endowment to create a statewide, palliative care telehealth program.
Providing end of life and comfort care to those in need, especially for the state’s most vulnerable and rural populations, is the primary aim of the new effort. Program leadership expects not only an improvement to accessibility for this kind of care, but also potential cost savings to individual patients and the system as a whole. Click for full details.
South Carolina life sciences gets another huge boost with BD's $150 million investment in Sumter see more
Medical technology company creating 125 new jobs
COLUMBIA, S.C. - BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company), a leading global medical technology company, today announced a $150 million investment in its existing Sumter County manufacturing facility. The company is projected to create an additional 125 new jobs over the next several years.
Employing more than 65,000 associates worldwide, BD is one of the world's largest medical technology companies and supports health care providers in more than 190 countries. BD's Sumter County facility has been in operation since 1970, manufacturing blood collection devices that are critical to the health care industry.
Located at 1575 Airport Road in Sumter, S.C., BD's Sumter facility is actively hiring for the new positions, and interested applicants should visit www.bd.com/careers for more information.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development has approved job development credits related to this project, as well as a $600,000 Set Aside grant to assist with the costs of road work and site preparation.
"For nearly 50 years, BD's Sumter facility has consistently delivered superior quality products, vital for our customers and their patients, through a talented and engaged workforce. We would like to thank TheLINK economic development alliance, Sumter Economic Development, the City of Sumter, Sumter County and the S.C. Department of Commerce for their continued support of BD and our employees as we continue to invest in the facility. We look forward to the ongoing success of our BD Sumter manufacturing team as they continue to advance the world of health." -BD Executive Vice President of Global Operations and Chief Supply Chain Officer Jim Borzi
"After opening in our state more than 40 years ago, we're thrilled that BD continues to grow and succeed here. This announcement once again demonstrates that South Carolina is a place where medical technology companies want to do business, and we welcome this new $150 million investment." -Gov. Henry McMaster
"Not only does our state excel in advanced manufacturing, we're also increasingly a top choice for companies in the life sciences sector. BD has been a strong member of Team South Carolina for decades, and we congratulate them on their ongoing success." -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
"BD has been a leading employer in this county since opening its doors in 1970. We are grateful for their continued investment in our community and our people." -Sumter County Council Chairman James McCain
"We have long-enjoyed BD as a key component in the fabric of our industrial portfolio. This investment demonstrates their trust in our leadership, their commitment to the success of their business and their belief in our ability to regenerate the talent needed to produce the quality of goods for which BD is known." -Sumter Economic Development Chairman Greg Thompson
FIVE FAST FACTS
- BD is investing in its existing Sumter County manufacturing facility.
- $150 million investment to create 125 new jobs.
- Employing more than 65,000 associates worldwide, BD is one of the largest medical technology companies in the world and supports health care providers in more than 190 countries.
- Located at 1575 Airport Road in Sumter, S.C., BD's facility manufactures blood collection devices for the health care industry.
BD is actively hiring for the new positions, and interested applicants should visit www.bd.com/careers for more information.
BD is one of the largest global medical technology companies in the world and is advancing the world of health by improving medical discovery, diagnostics and the delivery of care. The company supports the heroes on the frontlines of health care by developing innovative technology, services and solutions that help advance both clinical therapy for patients and clinical process for health care providers. BD and its 65,000 employees have a passion and commitment to help improve patient outcomes, improve the safety and efficiency of clinicians' care delivery process, enable laboratory scientists to better diagnose disease and advance researchers' capabilities to develop the next generation of diagnostics and therapeutics. BD has a presence in virtually every country and partners with organizations around the world to address some of the most challenging global health issues. By working in close collaboration with customers, BD can help enhance outcomes, lower costs, increase efficiencies, improve safety and expand access to health care. In 2017, BD welcomed C. R. Bard and its products into the BD family. For more information on BD, please visit www.bd.com.