DHEC board votes to support Templeton's handling of TB outbreak - FOX Carolina 21

DHEC board votes to support Templeton's handling of TB outbreak

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The DHEC Board of Directors held a conference call Wednesday about Dir. Catherine Templeton and the TB outbreak. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina) The DHEC Board of Directors held a conference call Wednesday about Dir. Catherine Templeton and the TB outbreak. (Aug. 14, 2013/FOX Carolina)
DHEC Director Catherine Templeton testifies. (Aug. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina) DHEC Director Catherine Templeton testifies. (Aug. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina)
COLUMBIA, SC (FOX Carolina) -

The Department of Health and Environmental Control's Board of Directors held a meeting to say they commend the director's handling of the tuberculosis outbreak in Ninety Six.

The board unanimously passed a resolution affirming their support of DHEC Director Catherine Templeton during a special meeting and conference call Wednesday.

They said in the resolution that they support and commend Templeton, "For her transparent and professional handling of the agency response."

During the call, Upstate board member Clarence Batts Jr., who represents the 4th Congressional District, said he also wanted to commend Templeton for her, "Outstanding performance in the past year."

FOX Carolina spoke with Batts on the phone after the meeting where said in light of everything that has happened in Greenwood County, the board felt it was the resolution was the thing to do and no one had asked them to pass the resolution.

The board, appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley, met following last week's special state Senate committee meeting where Templeton testified about the agency's handling of the outbreak.

Batts said he was unaware of any complaints against Templeton but after the hearing, with the "flack flying around," the board felt they were being responsible by advocating for her.

"I continue to be encouraged by the Board's confidence in our dedicated group of professionals," Templeton said in response to the resolution. "Their support enables us to do what is right to protect public health and the environment, without the influence of politics or emotion."

During the Senate hearing, Templeton took the brunt of the questions and some attacks on her reputation, to which she replied, "We've held people accountable, for which I do not apologize."

Since officials announced that there was an outbreak at Ninety Six Primary School back in May, hundreds of people have been tested at least once for the disease. While the majority of test results came back negative, DHEC reported on Aug. 7 that a total of two adults and 10 students had the contagious form of the disease.

During senate hearing, officials said those who had the contagious form of TB are no longer infectious but are still being treated. The index patient, who was identified as the janitor at Ninety Six Primary School, is still under medical quarantine.

Additionally, lawsuits have been filed against DHEC in the wake of the outbreak regarding wrongful termination of former health employees and slander.

FOX Carolina received the following statement from state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-22nd District, in response to the board's resolution:

"I am not sure what planet Nikki Haley's DHEC board is living on, but back here on Earth in South Carolina, things are a lot different.

"We have families who are angry about the bureaucratic responses and medical treatment they are still receiving from DHEC. We have a commissioner in Mrs. Templeton, who has once again exposed our taxpayers to the costs of expensive litigation due to her knee-jerk reactions and personnel moves. And we have a board that meets in secret, but won't discuss this issue in public. I guess in the world of Nikki Haley and her DHEC board, 'It's a great day in South Carolina' but for the rest of us, the picture is not as rosy."

FOX Carolina is working to speak to other local and state leaders in response to the board's resolution.

Copyright 2013 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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