SHaPE SC is looking at regulatory and health frameworks in the state | Credit: Joe Dudeck on Unsplash

A group convened to evaluate the overall infrastructure in South Carolina for health and environmental services will soon be drawing up its final report after a Tuesday meeting.

The Task Force to Strengthen the Health and Promote the Environment of South Carolina (SHaPE SC) is holding its final meeting 1-4 p.m., Oct. 19, at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

SHaPE SC was created in April to promote health and environmental services in the state

Created April 8 by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) with approval from its board, the group is composed of experts from colleges, health organizations and leaders from advocacy groups and nonprofits across the state. The task force began with two central goals:

  • Evaluate the state’s current framework and responsibilities related to health and environmental protection services
  • Make recommendations to the board, General Assembly and governor about how best to maximize state resources to improve the above

“We are honored to have enlisted the service of some of the most intelligent, innovative, and thoughtful minds South Carolina has to offer,” said DHEC director Dr. Edward Simmer, in a press release. “Together, they have thoughtfully identified what we as a state are doing well when it comes to providing health and environmental services, as well as core areas for improvement.”

SHaPE SC is split into three subcommittees that have been meeting separately and together since April, with each one covering specific areas and bringing nuanced recommendations to the table.

The Behavioral Health subcommittee during its most recent meeting Aug. 4, put forth seven detailed recommendations to address a number of shortcomings, gaps and critical challenges, including lack of coordination in housing and employment opportunities, gaps in workforce development for behavioral health professionals and stigma associated with receiving behavioral health services.

The Environmental Protection subcommittee at its most recent meeting Aug. 24 noted that while it had no formal recommendations toward what it called a “Bright Tomorrow,” a few possibilities have come to light for realignment and restructuring existing agencies. No consensus had yet been reached.

The Health subcommittee similarly did not share formally proposed recommendations during its most recent meeting Aug. 31, opting instead to share reports and findings at a full task force meeting at a later date.

The task force will review and discuss its final recommendations to improve the future of health and environmental services in the Palmetto State during Tuesday’s full task force meeting. Then, SHaPE SC will provide a report of its recommendations to the DHEC board for review and approval before submission to the legislature and Gov. Henry McMaster.

A final report will be published online, and the meeting proceedings will be open and available to the public online, meetiing ID 481-349-756, and by phone at 1 (864) 558-7311. A recording of the meeting and minutes will be available after its conclusion.