United Way honors Sumter legislator

Bill helps increase access in rural communities

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 3/4/18

A Sumter County legislator was recently honored by a nonprofit that fights for the health, education and financial stability of residents for his efforts in helping to increase access to various types of health care.

State Rep. Murrell Smith, …

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United Way honors Sumter legislator

Bill helps increase access in rural communities

Posted

A Sumter County legislator was recently honored by a nonprofit that fights for the health, education and financial stability of residents for his efforts in helping to increase access to various types of health care.

State Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter, received the South Carolina Common Good Award for Health from United Way of Sumter, Clarendon and Lee Counties at a ceremony at City Market Vista in Columbia.

"Each year, South Carolina United Ways come together to recognize those who work to uplift and empower individuals in the areas of education, financial stability and health not only for the people in their communities but across the state," Megan Ray, marketing and communications specialist for United Way, wrote in a press release. "Their dedication to advancing the common good goes above and beyond. It is truly a reflection of the values of what it means to 'Live United' by forging unlikely partnerships, finding new solutions to old problems and inspiring others."

Smith, who represents the western half of the city of Sumter, Shaw Air Force Base and part of the southern portion of Sumter County, said he has been working on increasing access to health care for rural communities for a few years now and that a bill he introduced in the state House furthers that goal.

"In 2012-2013, it was brought to us that we have a decline in access to health care in rural areas with rural hospitals closing and doctors' offices and practices retiring and not having young physicians moving into rural areas," said Smith, who is the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee for the South Carolina House of Representatives.

With telehealth, doctors and surgeons can consult patients and talk about a diagnosis virtually so patients don't have to make their way to a city to be seen. Smith said the innovation had already been in play with stroke patients.

"Time is the most crucial element in a stroke, and in rural areas, you don't have anyone who can make that diagnosis quickly," he said.

He said telehealth can also be used for ICU patients, in schools, for maternal fetal medicine and other areas.

Smith's bill, H. 4529, would allow nurses to practice telemedicine.

"It's providing access to the rural areas of South Carolina for the higher and more specialized levels of care," he said.

He said the state is leading the nation in telemedicine and that "it's nice to see South Carolina as the leader in something that improves lives."

Other honorees for other areas, such as education, financial stability, volunteerism and service include legislators from Pickens, Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, Kershaw, Richland and Greenville counties.