Improving patient care is at the heart of Rhythmlink's success see more
As Columbia, S.C.-based Rhythmlink International, LLC (RLI) prepares to turn 20 years old this year, co-founder and CEO Shawn Regan is reflective on just how far the organization has come since “the early days.”
After spending more than a decade in the medical device and medical services fields, Shawn and his partners created Rhythmlink in 2002 to meet the needs of neurophysiologic end-users whom they discovered were underserved by both large and small medical device companies. Shawn’s passion to apply innovative engineering solutions to address customer needs while improving patient care and reducing medical costs set him—and Rhythmlink—on a growth path that today has reached over 325 employees worldwide and has landed the organization on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies nine times.
Of greater pride to Regan is the company’s ten straight years on South Carolina’s Best Places to Work list — a testament to Rhythmlink’s culture and the commitment of the organization to valuing the contributions and talents of its associates… whatever their role.
RLI is in the business of connecting patients to machines to record or elicit physiology information. It designs, manufactures, and distributes medical devices that go on or in a patient to help monitor the brain and the nervous system to identify and prevent serious neurologic conditions such as paralysis, seizures, and strokes. Rhythmlink’s products are commonly used in operating rooms, intensive care units, and other neurological clinical settings in hospitals. The company is now recognized as a leader within its field at providing the important physical connection between patients and the diagnostic equipment to record or elicit neurophysiologic biopotentials.
Originally founded by neurodiagnostic technicians and engineers, Rhythmlink is resolutely focused on continuous innovation and delivering superior quality in all of its products – and its advancements and improvements in technology and branding have brought national and international recognition to the former South Carolina start-up.
Indicative of the company’s focus on innovative product development are two notable recent offerings developed and marketed by the company: its MR Conditional/CT Compatible Quick Connect Electrodes and its Guardian Needle Electrode.
Rhythmlink was the first company in the world to achieve FDA approval for MR Conditional EEG electrodes. Rhythmlink’s FDA-cleared MR Conditional/CT Compatible Quick Connect Electrodes help eliminate the need and cost to have staff available to remove and reapply electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes each time a patient requires magnetic resonance (MR) imaging during critical care continuous EEG monitoring, long term epilepsy monitoring or in many other situations.
Electroencephalography is the recording of brain activity (i.e., brain waves) to help identify dangerous brain activity such as seizures. Prior to Rhythmlink’s MR Conditional products, any time a patient needed to have their brain monitored and needed to get an imaging study done, caregivers had to take off the electrodes, image the patient and then re-apply the electrodes. Getting electrodes on the head is time-consuming, qualified staffing in hospitals is limited, and application and reapplication can result in skin breakdown at the site of the electrodes. Applying the electrodes once and keeping them on during a patient’s stay saves time and cost while improving patient safety.
RLI achieved full FDA clearance on its MR Conditional EEG electrodes and the Quick Connect Electrode product line built upon the previous clearance. The product can also be used in a CT without having to take the electrodes off the head and re-apply them, furthering its potential use.
Rhythmlink’s Guardian Needle Electrode is a subdermal needle electrode designed to reduce accidental needle sticks and reduce the risk of exposure to cross contamination. Commonly used in the operating room for real-time monitoring and protection of a patient’s nervous system, this subdermal needle can be used for critical care environments, the ICU, Emergency Room or anywhere a needle electrode is called for. Additionally, the Guardian Needle combines to work perfectly with RLI’s EEG template for quick and accurate electrode placement.
The product was originally conceived of by Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Health clinicians, developed by the Zucker Institute of Applied Neurosciences (ZIAN) engineers and is today manufactured and sold by Rhythmlink, a testament to the power of collaboration in medical device innovation. The effort — ten years in the making — will make the operating room a safer place for health care team members the world over.
Traditional subdermal needle electrodes are used during surgery to monitor a patient’s nervous system during dangerous cases to identify and prevent paralysis, stroke and other dangerous conditions and outcomes during surgery. The small needles can become dislodged and accidently stick health care personnel during the surgery, whereas the new Guardian needle aims to reduce or eliminate the accidental needle sticks. Following extensive talks, licensing, contribution of additional IP to the patent and obtaining FDA clearance, Rhythmlink launched the product just over one year ago.
Twenty years of hard work and growth have come and gone quickly at Rhythmlink, yet the founders’ original passion still rings true today: improving patient care is — and always will be — at the very heart of Rhythmlink’s success.
Accolades pour in for celebrated Clemson educator and leader see more
Clemson University's Dr. Martine LaBerge is the recipient of InnoVision’s 2021 Dr. Charles Townes Individual Achievement Award in recognition of her impressive career leading Clemson University’s Bioengineering department and its many initiatives and collaborations around South Carolina. Dr. LaBerge was honored Tuesday, November 9th when Innovision celebrated her achievements, contributions and leadership.
View the Award Presentation video here.
Congratulations to Martine from the entire SC life sciences community and SCBIO!
Development is the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation see more
Environmental permitting is underway for the Agriculture-Technology Campus in Hampton County, with a goal of starting operations at the indoor farming supersite by the end of next year.
The $314 million development is being billed as the largest agriculture-based Opportunity Zone project in the nation. Its announcement last September at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus off Interstate 95 in Early Branch attracted hundreds of boosters, including the nation’s top farm official at the time in Sonny Perdue — the agriculture chief under former President Donald Trump.
Thing have been relatively quiet since then, but plenty of work has been taking place behind the scenes, said Kay Maxwell, marketing manager for the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance.
She said a group of precision farming specialists from the Netherlands spent months conducting studies at the industrial park to determine how greenhouses there can get the maximum benefit from sunlight, humidity and other weather conditions. The Netherlands is the world’s second-leading agricultural exporter, behind the United States, and has pioneered indoor growing techniques that use little water or soil and no pesticides.
More traditional studies — such as wetlands permitting and geotechnical engineering — are now taking place, Maxwell said. The alliance also is marketing the project to companies interested in either growing crops at the property or using an onsite packaging and distribution center to deliver South Carolina-grown products to store shelves.
“We have talked to companies as far as Europe and Asia, as well as a lot of domestic companies, that are very interested in South Carolina because of this project,” Maxwell said. “There are a lot of different avenues in which other companies can be involved.”
While the Ag-Tech Campus has five years to qualify for state and local tax credits, Maxwell said she expects some operations will begin much sooner.
The project also qualifies for a $7 million rural infrastructure grant from the state that would pass through Hampton County Council, though none of the funds have been released to date, according to the S.C. Commerce Department.
The Ag-Tech Campus is a partnership between Columbia-based finance group GEM Opportunity Fund and a trio of food and packaging firms that will grow produce in environmentally controlled greenhouses at the 1,000-acre site.
Zeb Portanova, chief executive of GEM, said in a March 30 interview with Fundviews Podcast that he had recently submitted a financing package for the project with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agency is providing grants for Opportunity Zone projects, which are also eligible for federal tax breaks and fall under a program designed to encourage investment in low-income urban and rural communities.
Portanova has said the Ag-Tech Campus will create roughly 1,500 jobs by 2025. Another GEM project — a $30 million hemp growing and processing facility — will be nearby. Maxwell said greenhouses are already being constructed for the latter project, which is expected to create 107 jobs, and start operations by the end of this year.
Rhythmlink International honored as a Best Places to Work in South Carolina for tenth consecutive yearTen years in a row for life sciences firm Rhythmlink see more
For the tenth consecutive year Rhythmlink has been awarded a spot on the “Best Places to Work in South Carolina” list in the Small Employer category, honored by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. This year Rhythmlink placed 13 out 20 total companies in this category, earning a spot on a final list of the 81 most innovative and top-notch employers across the state.
“Rhythmlink takes pride in achieving this honor for the tenth consecutive year,” said Shawn Regan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer for Rhythmlink International, LLC. “We could not achieve our mission of improving patient care or uphold our values and culture without the significant contribution of our employees, and this honor helps us know we remain on the right track for making that possible,” said Regan.
Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in South Carolina. The first part consisted of evaluating each company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking. Several questions on the survey dealt with how Rhythmlink has responded to challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it has affected the workplace.
Joe Straczek, Chief Financial Officer for Rhythmlink, believes that despite the challenges, Rhythmlink employees remained focused and dedicated to their work. “As a health care company, our employees know the value of their work in our industry, and believe they have an opportunity to make a difference,” said Straczek. “One of the things that makes our culture special is a willingness and ability to adapt to changes and struggles, while always keeping the customer top of mind.”
Ranked companies were recognized at an annual reception and awards dinner at the Columbia Convention Center on August 4, 2021.
Rhythmlink International is a medical device manufacturer specializing in devices that help connect patients to machines to record or elicit physiologic information. Rhythmlink designs, manufactures, and distributes a variety of medical devices for intraoperative neuromonitoring, electroencephalography, evoked potentials, polysomnography, long-term epilepsy monitoring and critical care units. Founded by neurodiagnostic technologists and engineers in 2002, Rhythmlink enhances patient care worldwide by transforming medical device technology that links patients to equipment. Rhythmlink also offers custom packaging, custom products, private labeling, and contract manufacturing services.
Once again, Lou Kennedy and Nephron step up for South Carolina see more
A South Carolina-based pharmaceutical manufacturer that has offered coronavirus vaccines to the public and run thousands of COVID-19 tests throughout the pandemic will now require all of its employees to get inoculated.
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. is mandating that all of the company’s nearly 2,000 workers be fully vaccinated or have started a two-dose vaccine series by Aug. 27, unless the employee has “an exemption or reasonable accommodation,” according to CEO Lou Kennedy.
The company is one of the first major businesses in South Carolina, other than hospitals, to publicly declare such a directive. Details of the requirement were shared with The Associated Press ahead of an official announcement Monday.
“As COVID-19 cases, driven by the deadly serious Delta variant, continue to impact communities and businesses alike, we can be one of the first businesses of our size to have a fully-vaccinated workforce,” Kennedy wrote in a company-wide letter.
Kennedy told reporters that employees who are not vaccinated by the deadline and can’t provide a medical or religious exemption will be fired, and she isn’t worried about lawsuits.
“I’ll be very sad if we lose even the first person,” Kennedy said. “I hate that, but we’ve got to do what is right, to keep us healthy so we can keep others healthy.”
Nephron, which makes a number of drugs used to treat COVID-19 patients, is also mandating all visitors, vendors and guests be fully vaccinated. Those who need the shots can get them from Nephron itself, which has run a vaccine site in West Columbia since February.
The company is still compiling data on how many of its workers are vaccinated.
A growing number of hospitals around the state, including the Medical University of South Carolina and Tidelands, have made vaccination a requirement for health care employees. Prisma Health, South Carolina’s largest hospital system, has offered incentives to staffers instead, news outlets have reported.
The Nephron announcement comes as vaccine rates continue to lag. Less than half of eligible South Carolinians were fully vaccinated as of last week, according to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Although most businesses in the state have yet to implement such requirements, the resurgence of the virus with the highly contagious delta variant has prompted many to consider a mandate, S.C. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Morgan told The Associated Press on Monday.
More and more businesses will likely require employees to be vaccinated, following Nephron’s lead and the expected full approval of the vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration later this fall, Morgan said: “Momentum is growing.”
Lawmakers in the South Carolina Senate did approve a proposal that would prevent employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for workers earlier this year. That measure still awaits House action.
Lou Kennedy authors a perspective every South Carolina resident should read see more
Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corp. manufactures lifesaving medications that help people breathe. In the midst of a pandemic, it is more critical than ever that our team stays healthy, so we can keep patients healthy.
This was one reason we stayed motivated over the past year to step up for our community, state and nation to aid the response to COVID-19. When the opportunity arose for Nephron to partner with Dominion Energy South Carolina and launch a COVID-19 vaccination drive-thru, we embraced it — just as many of our employees, myself included, jumped at the chance to be vaccinated.
It was the least we could do to help keep South Carolina’s recovery on track. After all, we have been proud of the way our state, guided by Gov. Henry McMaster, has led. We struck the right balance between public health and economic prosperity. We never closed down, and we avoided many of the problems neighboring states have battled.
However, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the lag our state — and, frankly, our company — has seen in citizens being vaccinated. The initial enthusiasm for getting vaccinated has given way to hesitancy. I want to change that. I hope my colleagues around the business community will join me in the effort.
Why is it important to me for the people of South Carolina, the employees of our company and workers everywhere to get vaccinated?
After a year of masks and mandates, viruses and virtual meetings, I am tired of having the economy impacted, and recreation curtailed, by concerns that interacting with people could lead to long-term health challenges, such as those associated with COVID-19. I agree with our governor: We do not need new restrictions in South Carolina. It is time to return to normal — for good.
I also believe in science. As the CEO of one of the fastest-growing pharmaceuticals manufacturers in the country, I work with dozens of brilliant scientists. We know there are real concerns about contracting COVID-19 and the new, dangerous strains of the virus cropping up around the world.
If we truly want to return to normal, and do so in a permanent way, then there is no alternative to getting vaccinated. Luckily, in South Carolina, there are countless places where vaccines are available. Come to the Nephron drive-thru vaccination location (in West Columbia) and get your shot. There is no charge. Or contact the state Department of Health and Environmental Control about where to get vaccinated. Again, there is no charge.
Do you own a business? Give your employees incentives to get the shot. We did. Employees who received the vaccine by a certain date at Nephron were entered into a drawing to receive free paid time off. This was a win-win — for workers, it was a chance to earn a meaningful prize, and for the company, it meant a safer and healthier work environment.
Nephron employees who still have not been vaccinated are required to wear masks. Like other critical health care and manufacturing facilities, Nephron is a place too many people depend on for us to risk a widespread outbreak of any virus. What we hope is that we can encourage enough of our employees to get vaccinated that we do not have to consider additional mandates or more serious measures in response to unvaccinated employees.
Vaccinations remain one of the surest ways each of us can do the right thing — by our friends, families, state and nation — during these unprecedented days. If you have not been vaccinated, I hope you will join me and get the shot. Each of us can contribute to the health and safety of our companies and our country. Doing so may mean the difference between keeping the place where you work open and seeing it closed — not to mention the difference between life and death.
Lou Kennedy is CEO of Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation and a Lexington resident.
Expanded use of test builds on previous month’s publication of successful interim clinical data see more
Functional precision oncology innovator Kiyatec announced today that it is initiating use of the 3D Predict™ Glioma test outside of its 3D-PREDICT clinical study. Recently published peer-reviewed data demonstrated successful use of this test for patients with either newly diagnosed or recurrent high-grade gliomas, which includes glioblastoma (GBM).
In choosing July 21, 2021, to announce the expanded use of its test, KIYATEC joins the country in shining a light on glioblastoma, which is the most common, treatment-resistant, and deadliest type of brain cancer. A recent bipartisan U.S. Senate resolution declared today as Glioblastoma Awareness Day in order to highlight the severity of GBM, and show support for individuals who are currently living with GBM, as well as caregivers and families. Additionally, the resolution encourages continued investment into glioblastoma research and treatments.
“At the core of KIYATEC’s mission is the desire to improve cancer patients’ lives. We’re excited to take the next step in fulfilling this mission by expanding the use of our testing for patients with GBM, which is such an aggressive cancer with few treatment options,” said Lillia Holmes, Chief Operations Officer at KIYATEC.
In a patient, the biological interaction between their live cancer cells and the administered therapy drives treatment outcomes. Measurement of this interaction, before prescribing a treatment plan, is not typically part of today’s cancer treatment paradigm. KIYATEC’s test results add this measurement into the information that informs oncologists’ treatment decisions for a given patient. This approach translated to patient benefit while demonstrating clinically relevant accuracy, as documented in the June Neuro-Oncology Advances publication.
The 3D Predict™ Glioma test is designed to work within the current framework of standard of care for high-grade glioma patients. Since live cells are required for the test, a patient’s oncologist must sync sample submission with the timing of the first surgery for newly diagnosed patients, or recurrent surgeries for relapsed patients. Oncologists interested in the potential use of the test to inform their decision-making, or requesting test kits to provide samples, should contact the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our goal is to provide oncologists with a more effective decision-making tool, by combining individual patient’s cancer cells with potential treatment drugs,” said Stephen Shuford, first author on the company’s recent Neuro-Oncology Advances publication.
The Senate resolution recognizes that:
- The five-year survival rate for GBM patients is 7%,
- The median length of survival is 8 months,
- Approximately 13,000 Americans will be diagnosed with GBM in 2021,
- Brain cancer has the highest per-patient initial cost of care, and
- Despite being first described over a century ago, there are only four FDA approved drugs and one device for GBM.
KIYATEC aims to make a meaningful impact for patients who are facing this challenging cancer.
KIYATEC is a functional precision oncology company that measures the response of each patient’s live cancer cells to inform oncologists’ treatment selection decisions. The company’s Clinical Services business offers or is developing clinical tests for high-grade glioma, ovarian, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers, and rare tumors in its CLIA-certified lab. The company’s Drug Development Services business works in partnership with leading biopharmaceutical companies to unlock response dynamics for their investigational drug candidates across the majority of solid tumor types.
GHGC earns major grant see more
The National MPS Society has awarded a $100,000 grant to Heather Flanagan-Steet, PhD, Director of Functional Studies at the Greenwood Genetic Center (GGC). Flanagan-Steet will lead the two-year project designed to better understand the biology of skeletal disorders in patients with these rare disorders and identify new therapies.
Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS), as a group, affect approximately 1 in 25,000 individuals. These progressive diseases cause widespread damage throughout the body, including the heart, bones, joints, respiratory system and central nervous system, leading to a shortened lifespan. Skeletal abnormalities are a common feature of MPS disorders and can lead to pain, impaired growth, and limited mobility.
Flanagan-Steet’s work will involve the use of zebrafish models of three MPS disorders, MPS II (Hunter syndrome), MPS IVA (Morquio syndrome), and ML II (I-cell disease), to pinpoint common pathways involved in the bone and cartilage disease seen in patients with MPS.
“Because zebrafish and humans share 70% of the same DNA, we can mimic MPS in the zebrafish, allowing us to study how the patient mutations actually cause the clinical features of these disorders,” said Flanagan-Steet. “The fish provide a really powerful tool both to help us understand exactly how these skeletal issues develop and then to assess which treatments may improve or prevent those issues. By directly comparing the mechanisms in these three different disease models, we hope to identify therapeutic approaches that may benefit multiple diseases.”
The MPS Society provides support resources for families as well as funding for research into this group of disorders which can affect the health, development, quality of life, and lifespan of affected individuals. GGC has a long-standing interest in MPS disorders including providing clinical care, diagnostic testing, and research for many of these rare conditions.
“We are so grateful for the support of the MPS Society, an organization led by families who are dedicated to raising awareness, supporting research, and ultimately finding cures for these disorders,” said Flanagan-Steet. “We are excited to advance this work and contribute to improving the quality of life for all individuals and families impacted by MPS disorders.”
About the MPS Society
The National MPS Society exists to cure, support, and advocate for MPS and ML. Their mission serves individuals, families, and friends affected by Mucopolysaccharidoses and Mucolipidosis through supporting research, supporting families, and increasing public and professional awareness. For more information on MPS and ML, please visit www.mpssociety.org.
MUSC completes purchase of hospitals see more
Providence Health is no more in the Capital City.
The hospital, originally founded by the Catholic Sister of Charity, is now state-owned MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center, following the finalization of its purchase by MUSC Health University Medical Center.
With the $75 million purchase South Carolina’s second-largest hospital system added Providence’s downtown and northeast facilities to its fleet of care centers around the state, as well as the former KershawHealth hospital in Camden — now known as MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center — and the emergency room in Fairfield County — now known as MUSC Health Fairfield Emergency and Imaging.
The hospitals were previously owned by Tennessee-based for-profit LifePoint Health.
All of LifePoint’s existing 2,000 employees were offered to remain on staff under the new ownership, said MUSC Health CEO Dr. Pat Cawley said.
The deal takes MUSC to more than 2,000 beds and 19,000 employees across the state.
Buying Providence Health is the latest in MUSC’s major expansion outside of its Charleston base where it had been contained for nearly 200 years before it branched outside the area for the first time with the acquisition of four community hospitals in 2019. The public, nonprofit health system receives financial support out of the state budget.
The deal comes months after Prisma Health, the state’s largest health care system terminated its own agreement to purchase LifePoint’s facilities. Prisma, which operates three major hospitals in Columbia, abandoned its efforts April 9 after it was plagued for more than a year by legal and regulatory challenges.
Had the purchase been finalized, it would have taken the Columbia area down to two hospital systems — Prisma and Lexington Medical Center. And it would have made the state’s largest system even larger.
USC earns award of excellence see more
In recognition of their dedication and innovations in overcoming the challenges of delivering the experiential curriculum during the past year, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Experiential Education Section has bestowed the Award for Excellence in Experiential Education upon the faculty and staff of experiential offices at the colleges and schools of pharmacy, including the University of South Carolina College of Pharmacy.
The Experiential Education team of Jennifer Baker, director of experiential programs; Whitney Maxwell, associate director of experiential programs; Kathryn Kenard, student service program coordinator; and Nancy Blaisdell, administrative assistant, received certificates of recognition from the AACP during a presentation by Julie Sease, interim dean of the College of Pharmacy.
The AACP Experiential Education Section Award of Excellence in Experiential Education is normally presented each year to an individual, but this year, the organization chose to recognize programs across the country.
When the University closed in March 2020, the Office of Experiential Education for the College of Pharmacy mobilized to a virtual unit overnight as there could be no pause in operations to keep students progressing through the Pharm.D. curriculum. With the status of hundreds of rotations changing on what seemed like an hourly basis during the spring and summer of 2020, Baker and Maxwell navigated rotation rescheduling while Kenard and Blaisdell tirelessly worked through site onboarding requirements to efficiently move students on and off rotation without missing a beat.
“Through the hard work and commitment of our preceptors and practice sites, we were able to successfully graduate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 on time,” says Baker. “Our team was dedicated to our students even while serving on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19. While our experiences were not unique, as everyone’s worlds were turned upside down during the pandemic, I can confidently say that our students and College are blessed with the best preceptors and faculty.
“We are so grateful for the unwavering support from College administration and for this recognition by the AACP Experiential Education Section. It was incredible to see the collaboration that occurred within our profession at the local, state and national level to support all pharmacy students.”
7 years in a row for MUSC see more
MUSC Health University Medical Center in Charleston was named by U.S. News & World Report for the seventh year in a row as the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina, with three of MUSC Health’s specialty areas ranking among the best in the entire country: ear, nose and throat; gynecology and cancer.
Seventeen other MUSC Health programs are considered “high performing” specialties, procedures or conditions in the 2021-2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings: gastroenterology and GI surgery, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, aortic valve surgery, heart attack, heart bypass surgery, heart failure, back surgery (spinal fusion), hip replacement, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer surgery, pneumonia, stroke, colon cancer surgery, rheumatology, orthopedics and urology.
In addition, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is designated as “high performing” in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure.
“Once again, South Carolinians can take great pride and comfort in the knowledge that their only public, statewide hospital system is consistently cited as one of the best in the country,” said Patrick J. Cawley, M.D., MUSC Health CEO and MUSC vice president for Health Affairs, University. “It’s a transformational time in health care and these rankings are a testament to our care team’s commitment to ensure that our patients are receiving the right care, in the right place and at the right time. The achievements in our Charleston and Florence divisions made despite the pandemic should remind us all what’s possible through innovation, teamwork, and growth.”
U.S. News & World Report unveiled the 32th edition of the Best Hospitals rankings at https://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Designed to help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases, Best Hospitals 2021-22 includes consumer-friendly data and information on 4,750 medical centers nationwide in 15 specialties and 17 procedures and conditions. In the 15 specialty areas, 175 hospitals were ranked in at least one specialty. In rankings by state and metro area, U.S. News & World Report recognized hospitals as high performing across multiple areas of care.
“I am so proud that U.S. News & World Report has recognized MUSC Health Florence Medical Center as high performing in four areas – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart failure, heart attack and kidney failure,” said Jay Hinesley, MUSC Health Florence Division CEO. “The last year has been a challenge for everyone in health care, and these recognitions are a true testament to all the hard work of our care team members and their dedication to our patients, families and communities. We are committed to continuing to preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina and beyond.”
The U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals methodologies, in most areas of care, are based largely or entirely on objective measures such as risk-adjusted survival and readmission rates, volume, patient experience, patient safety and quality of nursing, among other care-related indicators.
1. - U.S. News & World Report’s produced Best Hospitals with RTI International, a leading research organization based in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Life sciences booming in Spartanburg, Upstate see more
Spartanburg County – and the entire Upstate – are welcoming a growing interest and investments from life sciences companies. The Upstate has a long-established history and infrastructure that have supported life sciences companies with raw materials, production and packaging operations, and distribution.
Now, new research and innovation businesses are further supporting industry growth and fueling an ecosystem ripe for start-ups.
More than 670 life sciences firms of all sizes call the Upstate home, with 13 companies announcing new locations in the area in the last few years.
The newest of those companies in Spartanburg is Epica International, the leader in advanced, ultra-high-resolution mobile medical imaging and robotic applications for human and animal health, and industrial enterprises.
The company announced its headquarters and operations in Spartanburg, covering its subsidiary companies Epica Human Health, Epica Animal Health and Roboticom. Epica established corporate, imaging and robotic system demos at its facility, currently located inside the Spark Center SC on the Tyger River Campus of Spartanburg Community College.
“Epica’s investment in Spartanburg goes hand-in-hand with a diversified economic development strategy we’ve put in place countywide, targeting specifically investments from bioscience and life sciences industries,” said OneSpartanburg, Inc. Chief Economic Development Officer Katherine O’Neill. “These types of advanced, heavy-technology industries coming to our county gives us a considerable strategic advantage for future development and job growth.”
Another life sciences company – Pall Corporation – announced its intent to invest in Spartanburg County earlier in 2021. Pall announced its Spartanburg County operations would create 425 new jobs and $30.2 million in investment.
Pall serves the needs of customers across the broad spectrum of life sciences and industry and works with clients around the world to advance health, safety and environmentally responsible technologies. The company’s Spartanburg facility supports the rapid development of vaccines and therapeutics, including COVID-19 vaccines.
"Spartanburg County provides Pall with the diverse workforce we need to manufacture life-saving therapeutics and vaccines. We look forward to building our presence in this county,” said Pall Life Sciences President Joseph Repp at the time of the company’s announcement.
Statewide, South Carolina has a significant presence in the medical device sector. And the manufacturing supply chain is robust when it comes to life sciences, mirroring the strength of the area’s overall manufacturing prowess.
From 2015-2019, medical devices and equipment companies added 35% more jobs and accounted for 11.5% of the new companies coming to the Upstate. And on top of that, more than 700 clinical trials are being undertaken across the Upstate at any given time in the fields of oncology, companion diagnostics, genetics and more.
The Upstate in particular has a network of acclaimed hospitals, technical training schools and more than 26 colleges and universities actively working with industry leaders and educators on all levels to ensure access a highly-skilled workforce for decades to come.
“Spartanburg’s historic advantages when it comes to infrastructure, distribution capabilities and even the county’s location, make it a favorable home for continued investments from biosciences and life science industries,” said O’Neill. “That positions us well for the future as these industries continue to bring higher-wage, knowledge-based jobs to Spartanburg.”
Issues over $3 million in funds to colleges, universities see more
SCRA has announced the funding of over $3.3 million to selected colleges and universities for translational research projects to address key challenges facing the state’s industrial base. SCRA’s funding is being matched by the academic institutions and industry partners, bringing the total amount of the projects to over $6.7 million.
The projects are being funded through the SCRA-Academia Collaboration Team (SACT) program. The goal of the SACT is to connect industry with multi-institutional academic teams and build bridges among the institutions to foster engagement and advance technologies, many of which will enter the marketplace and lead to the creation of South Carolina-based jobs.
- $1.8 million was awarded to Clemson University to modernize South Carolina’s manufacturing assets to enable Industry 4.0 (the ongoing automation of traditional manufacturing and industrial practices, using modern smart technology). Clemson is partnering with the University of South Carolina, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Greenville Technical College, and Trident Technical College.
- $1.2 million was awarded to the University of South Carolina to enable factory-to-factory networking for the future of manufacturing operations. The University is partnering with Clemson University, Greenville Technical College, and Midlands Technical College.
- $305,000 was awarded to Francis Marion University to improve workforce readiness and capabilities in South Carolina. The University is partnering with The Citadel.
“I’m energized by the opportunities and positive outcomes from this intersection of academic research, entrepreneurship, and industry in the state. These collaborations provide the greatest potential for innovation, economic growth, and overall advancement of the region,” said Kella Player, SCRA Program Manager.
SCRA’s program directors and industry advisors will review the progress on these SACT research projects on an ongoing basis. Funds will be provided in stages as milestones are met.
“We are fortunate to have high-quality research and development being conducted at our state’s colleges and universities. Many of the technologies on which they are working today will produce the new companies of tomorrow. It’s a honor for SCRA to support these collaborations,” said Bob Quinn, SCRA Executive Director.
Since 2018, SACT grants have funded 17 collaborations among South Carolina-based academic institutions and 41 industry partners. These projects have produced an 8:1 multiple in additional funding from other sources such as industry and the federal government.
SCRA grants are funded in part by the Industry Partnership Fund (IPF). IPF contributors are South Carolina businesses and individuals who receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for investing in the state’s innovation economy.
Helping patients stay out of hospital, recover faster see more
Prisma Health is taking key elements of inpatient care into patients’ homes to help them stay out of the hospital under a new program for the Midlands called Home Recovery Care.
The model has been used at Prisma Health hospitals in the Upstate, according to a news release.
For patients under care through Prisma Health Richland Hospital, the organization partners with Nashville, Tenn.-based Contessa to deliver the service at its third site, the news release said.
The program launched at Greenville Memorial Hospital in 2019 and expanded to Oconee Memorial Hospital last year. In the Upstate, the program has a 90% acceptance rate and an average patient satisfaction score of 98%, according to the release.
Prisma Health was one of the first health systems approved to provide Home Recovery Care to Medicare fee-for-service patients under the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Hospitals Without Walls waiver, the release said. Programs that encourage hospitals to find healthy ways to stay out of emergency rooms and hospital rooms have been part of Medicare/Medicaid rules for years, with the COVID-19 pandemic spurring more efforts.
“Prisma Health has had great success with the program in the Upstate, and we are thrilled to provide this level of home care to more South Carolinians by adding it at Richland,” Bo Cofield, Prisma Health Richland Hospital CEO, said in the release. “The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced that going beyond the walls of the traditional hospital setting often gives our patients a better option for acute-level health care. Home Recovery Care was in place before the pandemic, but it is now gaining momentum. We believe this kind of service is essential to the care of our patients and is an important component of health care.”
Home recovery is more satisfying for patients and costs less than traditional recovery in a hospital, according to the release.
The care is for patients with acute, non-life-threatening medical conditions. Roughly 150 diagnoses are considered eligible for the service and range from congestive heart failure and pneumonia to dehydration, cellulitis and urinary tract infections. Patients must be evaluated by a Prisma Health doctor to determine if their conditions can be safely treated in the home instead of a standard hospital environment, according to the release.
The program includes 24-hour access to a recovery care coordinator and continual monitoring for up to 30 days, the release said. The in-home work is done by Prisma Health’s home-health registered nurses and by physician consultation utilizing telehealth.
“Since we launched the program, we have served 300 patients and saved patients from being hospitalized for 1,000 additional inpatient days,” Angela Orsky, vice president of post-acute services at Prisma Health, said in the release. “Our patient likelihood to recommend scores are 100, and we are exceeding all our quality targets. Our home health clinicians in partnership with our hospitalists have exceled in the ability to care for complex patients safely in their homes.”
PMLS donates rapid antigen tests to Diabetes Education camps see more
Premier Medical Laboratory Services donates rapid antigen tests to Diabetes Education and Camping Association Camps
Many children with diabetes look forward to summer camp each year to, not only spend time with friends, but with other children who can relate to similar day-to-day obstacles that living with diabetes can present. The Diabetes Education and Camping Association (DECA) unites the global diabetes camping community, providing leadership, education, and resources to make camps for those with diabetes more impactful. As most summer camps across the US resumed this year, diabetes camps were faced with the extraordinary obstacle of protecting children who are at higher risk for COVID-19 complications due to diabetes. To bring summer camps for children living with diabetes back this year and to help protect these children, one of the nation’s largest laboratories, Premier Medical Laboratory Services, donated thousands of COVID-19 tests to DECA camps in 19 states across the nation, enabling them to safely return to camp this year.
“We know DECA and each of their camps do so much for the diabetes community - helping kids to learn how to manage the disease as well as support emotional wellbeing,” said Kevin Murdock, Founder and CEO of PMLS. “With diabetes being a global pandemic, it’s a large focus for Premier Medical Laboratory Services to provide top healthcare solutions for patients with diabetes. We are honored to help camps that improve the lives of children and adolescents with diabetes.”
For some children, a diabetes camp is their first opportunity to meet a friend who also has diabetes, or their first time staying somewhere without their parents. It’s a great place for them to adopt a new hobby or learn skills that give them more self-confidence. Along with the feeling of independence and support, diabetes camps have been shown to provide children with an increase in diabetes self-care abilities and decreased diabetes-specific distress. (1) For caregivers, diabetes camps provide a medically sound environment where they can feel assured that their children are safe and their diabetes care needs are met.
Terry Ackley, Executive Director of DECA added: “The safety of children with diabetes is the highest priority of diabetes camps. Covid-19 has presented significant challenges to the operation of diabetes camps this year. It has required that they carefully study their program delivery model and incorporate additional health and safety protocols following the newest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. A tool that is very important to safely serving children with diabetes at camp is Covid-19 testing. Premier Medical Laboratory Services approached the diabetes camping community to offer their much-needed support. Our community greatly appreciates their generous donation of a large quantity of rapid antigen tests to diabetes camps across the United States. Premier Medical Laboratory Services has been instrumental to the ability of diabetes camps to operate this year. Their support is helping children learn more about how to manage their diabetes, build resilience to living with this difficult health condition, develop cherished friendships and have lots of fun!”
Aside from offering COVID-19 testing and many other medical diagnostics solutions, PMLS is continually searching for innovative diabetes prevention and maintenance applications. With some of the most advanced testing panels for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, PMLS also introduced to the US a first of its kind predictive genetic test for type 2 diabetes, which allows patients to know their risk of future onset of the disease determined by their individual genetic make-up. Along with this, Premier Medical Laboratory Services is currently working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on initiatives to bring soccer clinics to diabetes communities as part of their mission to improve patient lives both medically and through community outreach. PMLS is soon to announce more breakthrough solutions for diabetes care.
For more information on Premier Medical Laboratory Services, please visit www.premedinc.com or call 866-387-2909.