DHEC director says employees should report 'imminent threats' - FOX Carolina 21

DHEC director says employees should report 'imminent threats'

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NINETY SIX, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The director of South Carolina's health department issued a statement and new policy to her staff on Monday, requiring them to report imminent health threats.

FOX Carolina received a copy of an email Catherine Templeton sent to the staff of the Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday that said she has instituted a new policy for employees to contact her directly any imminent threat.

"At DHEC, we are fortunate to have a wealth of highly trained and experienced members of our team, and we want to ensure that each member of our team knows that he or she has a whistle and is encouraged to blow it loud enough for all to hear when there is an imminent risk of harm to the citizens of South Carolina," Templeton said in the email.

Templeton said the policy reminds employees to contact her directly and also "reaffirms that no adverse action will be taken against those who comply with this policy."

This marks one of the biggest policy changes since an tuberculosis outbreak at Ninety Six Primary School that left dozens of students and staff sick.  DHEC fired three nurses for their handling of the outbreak, and those nurses have fired back with a wrongful termination suit.  In addition, the former head of the tuberculosis division for DHEC is also suing the state agency for slander, relating to her handling of the tuberculosis outbreak.

Templeton said that this directive had previously been told directly to employees, allowing them to be a whistleblower if they feel their supervisors are not properly responding to an imminent health threat.  But as of July 31, it is now policy.

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