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November 2021

Kathy Schwarting named South Carolina’s Community Star as part of 11th annual National Rural Health Day celebration

By Latest News

November 18, 2021
SC Office of Rural Health

– Kathy Schwarting, CEO of Palmetto Care Connections in Bamberg, SC, and a champion for rural healthcare and broadband access, has been named South Carolina’s 2021 Community Star. The Community Star program is an initiative of the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) as a way to celebrate those serving the vital health needs of an estimated 57 million people living in rural America. This year, Community Stars from all 50 states are recognized as part of National Rural Health Day on November 18, 2021.
Schwarting has 25 years of experience in rural healthcare, working with various types of providers to improve the overall healthcare delivery systems. She created the state’s first rural health network to share services between four rural hospitals and collaborate on recruitment and retention.

She founded the non-profit Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) in 2010, and has been its CEO ever since. PCC works to bring quality healthcare services to rural and underserved communities through the use of telehealth.

“At the time, telehealth was somewhat up-and-coming around the country but fairly slow-moving in South Carolina,” Schwarting said. “After learning as much as I could about telehealth, I believed that this type of service would enable rural communities to continue to offer not only primary care services but specialty care as well.”

In 2015, PCC became the leader for South Carolina’s Broadband Consortium, which helps healthcare providers obtain federal subsidies to offset the costs of broadband fees. To date, PCC has helped healthcare providers in South Carolina save more than $25 million in broadband costs.

“Early on, Kathy recognized the intersection between broadband access and healthcare access,” said Graham Adams, CEO of the South Carolina Office of Rural Health and a founding board member of PCC. “Our rural communities need both to thrive, and Kathy has led the way in making sure our state works towards greater equity in those areas.”

PCC and the Medical University of South Carolina co-chair the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance to advocate for rural providers and create partnerships to improve healthcare access and delivery. In 2019, Palmetto Care Connections and South Carolina AHEC developed four no-cost learning modules for those interested in learning about key areas of telehealth programs. Schwarting also serves on numerous advisory boards throughout the state, as well as the national advisory board for The Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law.

Most recently, PCC embarked on a project with the SC Department on Aging to provide Android tablets, free internet service, and digital literacy classes to senior citizens in rural communities. The pilot project aims to serve 100 low-income households in five rural areas. The goal is to provide social connections during the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increase the seniors’ comfort level with telehealth services at a time when many are hesitant to visit a doctor’s office.

Schwarting credits her own roots in a rural community to inspiring her passion for better healthcare access for all South Carolina residents.

“I grew up in a small town of about 700 people in a community where we did not have a healthcare provider and the closest emergency department was about 30 minutes away. Because of this, I always knew that I wanted to help rural communities with better access to healthcare services,” Schwarting said. “I will continue to work across the state to assist rural communities in obtaining better healthcare services and hopefully will impact the quality of life for these residents.”

To read the stories of Schwarting or any of the other Community Stars, visit
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About the South Carolina Office of Rural Health
The South Carolina Office of Rural Health (SCORH) is a non-profit organization with a mission to close the gap in health status and life expectancy between rural and urban communities in the Palmetto State. SCORH has been promoting investment, opportunity and health within rural communities since 1991.

With 27 percent of our state’s residents living in rural areas, SCORH believes in preserving the unique character of rural communities without compromising their opportunities and access to critical services.

FCC Announces Third Set of Awards for COVID-19 Telehealth Round 2

By News



Wireline Competition Bureau Approves Third group of Funding Awardees in ROUND 2 OF COVID-19 tELEHEALTH PROGRAM

71 Health Care Providers Receive Critical Support for Telehealth and Connected Care Services

WC Docket No. 20-89

Today, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) approves the third group of funding commitments under Round 2 of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Telehealth Program (Program) and commits $40.46 million in funding to 71 health care providers across the Nation.[1]  The funding commitments made today will provide critical support to health care providers on the front lines in the fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) established the Program in April 2020 pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act[2] to provide $200 million in emergency funding to health care providers for telehealth and connected care services in response to COVID-19.[3]  To build on the Program’s success, Congress appropriated an additional $249.95 million to fund the second round of the Program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.[4]  On March 30, 2021, the Commission released the Second COVID-19 Report and Order,[5] which initiated Round 2 of the Program by adopting additional requirements and processes to implement Congressional direction and

[1] See FCC Announces Awards For Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, WC Docket No. 20-89, Public Notices, DA 21-1052 and 21-1221 (WCB 2021).

[2] Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers; COVID-19 Telehealth Program, WC Docket Nos. 18-213, 20-89, Report and Order, 35 FCC Rcd 3366 (2020) (First COVID-19 Report and Order); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Pub. L. No 116-136, 134 Stat. 281 (2020) (CARES Act).

[3] From April 16, 2020, through July 8, 2020, the Commission fully obligated the $200 million by issuing awards on a rolling basis to 539 applications.  Press Release, FCC, FCC Approves Final Set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program Applications (July 8, 2020),

[4] Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. L. No:  116-260, Division N-Additional Coronavirus Response and Relief, Title IX-Broadband Internet Access Service, § 903 “FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program” (2020), available at (Consolidated Appropriations Act).

[5] COVID-19 Telehealth Program; Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers, WC Docket Nos. 20-89 and 18-213, Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 36 FCC Rcd 7141 (2021) (Second COVID-19 Report and Order).

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By News

Many thanks to Spectrum who recently awarded PCC a $35,000 Spectrum Digital Education grant to provide digital literacy training to seniors in rural communities, including Bamberg County.

Source: Spectrum

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Oct. 25, 2021) – Spectrum today announced Palmetto Care Connections has received a $35,000 Spectrum Digital Education grant for Project Connect as part of its five-year, $7 million commitment to digital education in Spectrum communities across the country.

Palmetto Care Connections will use the funding to provide digital literacy classes for senior citizens in rural South Carolinas communities. This project will primarily focus on telehealth training for seniors and participants will receive a digital device upon completion of the program.

“We applaud Palmetto Care Connections for their broadband education initiatives and for helping us support efforts that promote digital literacy in rural South Carolina counties,” said Rahman Khan, Vice President of Community Impact for Charter Communications, Inc., which operates the Spectrum brand of broadband connectivity products. “Through this partnership with Palmetto Care Connections, the Spectrum Digital Education program is able to bring essential resources to those in need, and we look forward to working with them on this transformative project.”

A check presentation to announce the grant will be held Wedensday, Oct. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Palmetto Care Connections main office at 1880 Main Highway, Bamberg.

“Palmetto Care Connections is honored to receive this Spectrum Digital Education Grant to help close the digital divide for senior citizens, especially during times like these, as we work to reduce social isolation and when the need for virtual access to health care providers is so great,” said Kathy Schwarting, Palmetto Care Connections Chief Executive Officer. “With Spectrum’s assistance, PCC will provide hands-on training for about 100 seniors including how to send and receive photos and emails, safely search the internet for health information, connect with family and friends using a virtual face to face app, play mind-expanding games and connect with their doctor for virtual telehealth appointments. Each senior will receive a free digital device and assistance with acquiring internet service upon completion of the training.”

Palmetto Care Connections is one of 49 nonprofit organizations that Spectrum is supporting through 2021 Spectrum Digital Education grants. Since launching Spectrum Digital Education in 2017, Spectrum has donated $7 million in cash and in-kind contributions for digital literacy programs reaching nearly 70,000 people in 20 states and Washington, D.C. More information about Spectrum Digital Education is available here.

Charter sponsors several philanthropic programs in addition to Spectrum Digital Education, including Spectrum Scholars, a scholarship for under-represented college juniors in financial need; Spectrum Employee Community Grants, which supports Charter employees’ local volunteer activities; and the Spectrum Community Investment Loan Fund, which supports small and minority-owned businesses whose goods and services help meet core needs in financially underserved communities within the company’s footprint. More information about Charter’s philanthropic initiatives is available here.

About Spectrum

Spectrum is a suite of advanced communications services offered by Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR), a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator serving more than 31 million customers in 41 states. Over an advanced communications network, the company offers a full range of state-of-the-art residential and business services including Spectrum Internet®, TV, Mobile and Voice.

For small and medium-sized companies, Spectrum Business® delivers the same suite of broadband products and services coupled with special features and applications to enhance productivity, while for larger businesses and government entities, Spectrum Enterprise provides highly customized, fiber-based solutions. Spectrum Reach® delivers tailored advertising and production for the modern media landscape. The company also distributes award-winning news coverage, sports and high-quality original programming to its customers through Spectrum Networks and Spectrum Originals. More information about Charter can be found at

Williamsburg County Seniors Complete Digital Literacy Training

By News

Senior citizens from Williamsburg County recently completed digital literacy training in Kingstree provided by Palmetto Care Connections. Pictured with Kenneth Barnes (far right), Pee Dee Area Director for Congressman James E. Clyburn.

BAMBERG, SC—Senior citizens aged 60 years and up from Williamsburg County recently completed a three-session digital literacy learning program conducted by Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), a state-wide, non-profit telehealth organization.

The program was part of a pilot program funded by the Rural Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the S.C. Department on Aging to help 100 seniors who live in rural communities with digital literacy training, a free digital tablet and free cellular service for 12 months.

Senior citizens completed hands-on training using a digital tablet and learned skills such as how to send and receive photos and emails, connect with family and friends using video, search the internet for health information, play mind-stimulating games and connect with their doctor for virtual telehealth appointments. PCC will provide ongoing technical support for the seniors who complete the program.

“COVID-19 has created an explosion in telehealth services and uncovered a tremendous need for internet access and digital literacy in rural areas,” said PCC Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting. “As PCC surveyed rural health care providers, we confirmed that many of the seniors they serve have difficulty using and understanding technology, and many do not have internet access at home. The goal is to connect seniors not only to telehealth, but also to a variety of quality of life resources, to combat the social isolation that many seniors have faced during the pandemic.”

“For more than 40 years, Rural LISC has proudly worked to connect communities with resources and access to opportunities that everyone deserves,” said Rural LISC Program Officer Christa Vinson. “PCC’s Digital Inclusion pilot program supports the mission of Rural LISC by providing the physical equipment and technical assistance that this segment of the population needs in order to access services and benefit from an increasingly technical society.”

“The South Carolina Department on Aging works with a network of regional and local organizations to develop and manage services that help seniors remain independent in their homes and in their communities. SCDOA is pleased to be a part of the PCC Digital Inclusion pilot program focusing on seniors in rural areas in five South Carlina counties,” said Kay Hightower, SCDOA Senior Consultant, Outreach and Partnership Building.

“It is our hope that this pilot program will be a model for one approach to closing the digital divide in South Carolina,” said Kathy Schwarting, CEO of Palmetto Care Connections (PCC). “While PCC’s focus has traditionally been on serving rural health care providers with telehealth, broadband and technology resources, we have learned that patients need help in connecting to their health care providers. Residents of rural areas not only need internet access, they need access that is affordable and they need a device and knowledge to connect to resources for a better quality of life.”

Established in 2010, PCC is a non-profit organization that provides technology, broadband, and telehealth support services to health care providers in rural and underserved areas in S.C.

PCC co-chairs the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, along with the Medical University of South Carolina, serving as an advocate for rural providers and partnering with organizations to improve health care access and delivery for all South Carolinians. The National Cooperative of Health Network Association named Palmetto Care Connections as the 2021 Outstanding Health Network of the Year.

Clyburn details benefits of infrastructure deal for SC residents

By News

Source: The State

By Congressman James E. Clyburn

I often reflect upon my experiences growing up in a parsonage and my public service is guided by many of them. Recent circumstances have drawn me to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” After less than a year with President Biden in office and Democrats technically in control of Congress, I am beginning to see the substance of many things I had hoped for when Joe Biden was elected, and the evidence is beginning to be seen by everyone.

In March, Democrats in Washington delivered – without one Republican vote – the American Rescue Plan. This comprehensive package began alleviating the economic pain caused by COVID-19 by expanding the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit and lowering health insurance premiums for many in the Affordable Care Act marketplace. It provided resources to state and local communities for schools and health care facilities.

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Bringing Broadband and Telehealth to Rural South Carolina- Episode 8

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In the eighth episode of Telehealth Heroes, we interview Kathy Schwarting, the CEO of Palmetto Care Connections. She talks about improving technological literacy, her upcoming telehealth summit, and PCC’s goal to bring Google Fiber and improved broadband to rural communities in South Carolina.

SC to receive more than $6B from infrastructure bill

By News

Source:  WISTV 10

By Mary Green

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – More than $6 billion will head to South Carolina over a five-year period as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by the House late last week, according to the White House.

The bill is just awaiting President Joe Biden’s signature to become law and for funding to start being dispersed across the country.

The White House said Biden may not sign the bill until next week, when members of Congress will return to Washington following a weeklong recess.

“It’s urgent, but we also want to make sure that the people who spent the last couple of weeks, last couple of months just all in, delivering on this, on this promise, are here for the signing as well,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a briefing Monday.

According to the White House, South Carolina has more than 1,700 bridges in poor condition and nearly 7,300 highway miles in a similar state.

The state Department of Transportation said it will likely use this money not toward new projects, but toward projects it identified in 2013 as part of a larger study of South Carolina’s transportation system through 2040.

“Having a lot of money at one time without a plan is not a great plan, so having the vision that we did to lay out that plan and now being able to execute it is really what it’s all about for us, and again, like I said, it’s not changing our priorities. It’s just looking at possibly accelerating,” SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall said.

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Charleston-based telehealth group expanding access with new partnership

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MUSC says it saw increases in kids admitted for COVID-19 in August and September | Credit: MUSC Facebook

Source:  Charleston City Paper


The South Carolina Telehealth Alliance (SCTA), headquartered at the MUSC Health Center for Telehealth, one of only two National Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the country, today announced the launch of an initiative to expand access to specialist care to underserved areas.

The new initiative, South Carolina eConsult, will use SCTA partner ReferWell’s digital platform to allow S.C. health providers and local practices to consult with experts in various specialties to better outline a patient’s care, regardless of the patient’s typical access.

“This South Carolina eConsult initiative represents a huge opportunity for patients in rural and underserved areas of South Carolina to receive care guidance from top specialists whom they would otherwise not be able to see in person, and to access specialist-informed care without the need to travel far or incur extra bills,” said Dr. James McElligott, SCTA advisory council co-chair.

Virtual consults will be available in neurology, endocrinology, rheumatology, hematology and clinical genetics in the initial phase of the program. Future plans include adding other specialties and partnering with health systems across the state.

SCTA is making the ReferWell platform available to South Carolina providers free of charge. This move, SCTA said in a press release, will improve outcomes, optimize the patient experience, increase efficiency and reduce total cost of care.

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