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Monthly Archives

March 2023

Digital Literacy: 1,000 Graduates Milestone

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Palmetto Care Connections has reached an incredible milestone of training 1,000 graduates from its Digital Literacy program. This achievement is more than a number; it represents closing a digital divide in South Carolina’s rural communities, one life at a time.   

After participating in PCC’s Digital Literacy class, Ms. Vera Cribb reached out asking for her class photo so she could frame it. She proceeded to share how grateful she was for the course. Since then, she has been able to renew her license in health insurance and now has a job with Aflac, where she uses her computer and knowledge from the digital literacy class every day. 

While this story is unique to Cribb, she is not the only participant that has been positively impacted by PCC. 
“PCC has been blessed to be a part of providing Digital Literacy to the 13 rural counties in meeting this milestone,” said Tara Stokes, PCC’s digital inclusion coordinator. “Digital Literacy training began with our senior population but quickly became a need for adults of all ages.” 

The goal of this program is to help increase internet access and affordability and connect individuals to quality-of-life resources through digital literacy courses. The ability to reach 1,000 graduates is an achievement that celebrates technology and telehealth solutions being brought to rural South Carolina.  
“PCC is so proud to reach this milestone,” said Kathy Schwarting, chief executive officer of PCC. “We are so grateful to engage with our communities and assist them with better access to health care services. Education is the key to many of the problems we face every day, and this program is living proof!”  
While PCC has greatly affected 1,000 graduates through its Digital Literacy program, that same number has mutually changed the lives of its staff.  
“The impact has been instrumental in participants having better access to their healthcare providers, improving their education now that they have a digital device to go back to college, and self-confidence in a world that is quickly evolving to a digital world,” said Stokes. “I can personally say that these participants have impacted me in so many ways. They are awesome!”  

Community-based Healthcare Model is ‘Invaluable’ to Patients Managing Heart Failure

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Source: SCETV

Community Paramedicine is a healthcare model that brings paramedics into the homes of patients for non-emergent reasons to help with access to health care.

In South Carolina, the Community Paramedicine program at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System has had a big impact on the lives of heart failure patients. Due to the debilitating symptoms of congestive heart failure, many patients struggle to travel to the Heart Failure Clinic for their care. But now a community paramedic makes home visits to provide follow-up care and facilitate a telehealth visit with their nurse practitioner located in the clinic. Using a digital stethoscope, the paramedic assesses the patient while a nurse practitioner can hear heart and lung sounds in real time.

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Treasury Announces American Rescue Plan Funds to Connect Over 31,000 South Carolina Homes and Businesses to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

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Source:  U.S. Department of The Treasury

To date, 34 states have been approved to invest approximately $5 billion of Capital Projects Funds, which those states estimate will reach more than 1.4 million locations

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of broadband projects in South Carolina under the Capital Projects Fund in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The state estimates it will use its funding to connect over 31,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet. A key priority of the Capital Projects Fund program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure, advancing President Biden’s goal of affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for all Americans.

The Capital Projects Fund (CPF) provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Together, these American Rescue Plan programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are working in tandem to close the digital divide – deploying high-speed internet to those without access and lowering costs for those who cannot afford it.

“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding is a key piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”

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McMaster, Clyburn Announce “GetConnectedSC” Campaign to Expand Broadband Access

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FEBRUARY 21, 2023

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Governor Henry McMaster and Congressman James E. Clyburn were joined by officials from the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff’s (ORS) Broadband Office (SCBBO) and the South Carolina Department of Administration’s (Admin) Digital Equity Office (SCDEO) to announce GetConnectedSC, a high-speed internet access and adoption campaign to transform how our citizens engage with the online world.

The bi-partisan GetConnectedSC campaign is designed to identify the areas of greatest need in our state, invest in broadband infrastructure to those areas and provide support services to make that transformation possible for every home, business and community organization in South Carolina.

In addition to a new website, the campaign includes a 26-community listening tour and a Better-Internet Survey. The survey is designed to capture the barriers to internet adoption of unserved, underserved and underrepresented communities statewide. Information gathered will shape a Five-Year Broadband Plan for the state to ensure a Better Internet for a Better South Carolina.

“The creation of the GetConnectedSC campaign is the next logical step as we work to roll-out high-speed internet statewide,” said Jim Stritzinger, director of the SC Broadband Office. “We have a lot of momentum deploying infrastructure; however, that is just the first step. We need to help residents with affordability and the attainment of digital skills too. That’s where the SCDEO comes in.”

The initiative is part of a nationwide effort to improve broadband access. In 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) which included $65 billion for the deployment of broadband infrastructure development and digital inclusion efforts across the country. As a required first step in the deployment of these funds, South Carolina was granted planning funds for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity (DE) programs which ultimately lead to additional grants. The BEAD and DE planning processes extend through the summer of 2023 and culminate with the formal submission of the SC Five-Year Broadband and Digital Equity Plans to the federal government in August.

Once the South Carolina Five-Year plans have been approved, a minimum of $100 million additional federal funds for the BEAD program and tens of millions for the DE program will be made available to South Carolina to continue investment in broadband infrastructure and adoption statewide.


See a detailed listing of tour stops or to take the Better-Internet Survey.

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Telehealth Support Group Receives National Healthcare Award from Health Industry Leaders

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Source:  HealthCareLeadership Council and Redefining American Healthcare Award

Healthcare Leadership Council Honors Palmetto Care Connections with the Redefining American Healthcare Award 

BAMBERG, SC – The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) honored Palmetto Care Connections with its Redefining American Healthcare Award at a ceremony in Bamberg on Wednesday, February 15th.

Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) is a non-profit organization that provides telehealth support services to healthcare providers in rural and underserved areas of South Carolina. It’s mission is to assist providers in keeping healthcare local by connecting the community to quality services through broadband, technology, and telehealth. PCC leads the South Carolina broadband consortium to ensure providers receive broadband savings through the Federal Communication Commission’s Healthcare Connect Fund program, and also co-chairs the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance.

Kathy Schwarting, PCC Chief Executive Officer, accepted the award, saying, “PCC is truly humbled and honored to accept this amazing award.  How fortunate we are to be recognized for doing work that we love and are very passionate about.  We believe that a person’s zip code should not define the quality of his/her life and our efforts to improve healthcare access for all citizens is indicative of this belief.  We thank the Healthcare Leadership Council for taking an interest in our work and serving as an advocate for rural/underserved communities across this great nation.”

“On behalf of the Board of Directors for PCC, I want to congratulate the team on their hard work and dedication to improving healthcare access in our rural/underserved communities in South Carolina.  I strongly believe in the three C’s of healthcare – Convene, Connect and Catalyze and this team embodies this belief in their everyday work efforts.  PCC impresses us everyday with their ability to bring individuals and organizations together for a common cause, build lasting relationships with all types of partners and finally to literally redefine healthcare and rural while bringing about much needed change” said Dr. Rick Foster, Chairman of PCC’s Board of Directors.

“Telehealth provides a plethora of benefits to those who have access to virtual services. PCC observed that its surrounding rural community lacked that access and utilized relationship-building, expertise and creativity to formulate a range of solutions to match the needs of its underserved neighbors,” stated Michael Freeman, executive vice president at HLC. “By providing devices, training, and technical support to patients, and connecting providers to federal broadband subsidies, this non-profit has become a driving force in closing the existing telehealth gaps and improving healthcare outcomes.”

Representative Jim Clyburn (D-SC-06) congratulated PCC, stating: “I am proud of Palmetto Care Connections for its important work in rural South Carolina, and congratulate them for receiving the Redefining American Healthcare award. As a long-time advocate for broadband expansion, I’m impressed and thankful for Palmetto Care Connection’s efforts to connect my fellow South Carolinians to new opportunities through internet and telehealth access. I know Kathy Schwarting and the Palmetto Care Connections staff will continue their hard work, and look forward to what they will achieve next.”

Digital literacy program graduate, Tracey Missoh, provided a testimonial in which she said “PCC’s Digital Literacy Program truly changed my life.  Participating in this program has given me the confidence and courage to go back to school, fight for my dreams and become involved once again in healthcare. I hope they can expand this program to every corner of South Carolina as it can truly change lives.”

The Healthcare Leadership Council created the Redefining American Healthcare Award to recognize best practices and programs in communities and organizations across the nation that optimize care for vulnerable patients. Award recipients are organizations developing and activating cost-effective, measurable community programs promoting a patient-centered approach to care that considers outside social factors to achieve the best outcomes.



Vice president discusses ‘Internet for All’ in South Carolina visit

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Source: Gray Communications/Channel 12/26

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Vice President Kamala Harris promoted the Biden administration’s achievements on broadband internet access during a visit to South Carolina, recently minted as the site of Democrats’ first presidential votes of the 2024 campaign.

In Monday’s trip, her fourth to the early-voting state since becoming vice president, Harris lauded more than $175 million being spent to help improve high-speed internet infrastructure at historically Black colleges and institutions, which she called “centers of academic excellence.”

“Many of those that we focus on currently do not have reliable access to high-speed internet on campus,” said Harris, herself a graduate of an HBCU. “This means that more students will be able to use the internet for their everyday needs.”

She said the investments “will be transformative because we know when we connect people with high-speed internet, we connect them with opportunity.”

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