News Releases

News Releases

DHEC Salutes South Carolina Nurses during National Nurses Week

May 7, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all South Carolinians to recognize our state’s nurses during National Nurses Week, which is recognized nationally from May 6-May 12.

“Our state’s nurses have never been more important, their work never more paramount, their dedication and compassion never more meaningful than it is now, during this extraordinary pandemic that is impacting so many of our lives every day,” said DHEC Director Rick Toomey. “Please join me in thanking our state’s selfless nurses who risk their own health to protect those whom we love. We couldn’t be making it through this public health crisis without them.”

There are more than 81,000 nurses in the state, and DHEC employees approximately 459 public health nurses at its health clinics. The agency partners with nursing organizations such as the S.C. Nurses Association, S.C. School Nurses Association and others.

The highest award a South Carolina nurse can receive is the Palmetto Gold Award. Only 100 nurses are selected per year, and this year, DHEC is fortunate to have 14 of its public health nurses selected to receive the award this year due to their leadership and excellence in nursing practice.  

Additionally, the World Health Assembly recently designated 2020 the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

“In one word, our state’s nurses are heroes,” said Dr. Joan Duwve, DHEC Public Health Director. “Whether supporting public health in the community, caring for the sickest patients in the hospital and clinic setting, tending to the scraped knees of our children at school, or taking care of our loved ones in nursing homes, nurses help heal our bodies while touching our hearts. And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the sacrifices these women and men are making saves lives every day. Nurses are truly heroes in every sense of the word.”

To learn more about National Nurses Week, visit the American Nursing Foundation at or the South Carolina Nurses Association at 



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