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Davia Smith

Dillon County Residents Complete Digital Literacy Training

By News


Written by: Nicole Gard, Director of Communications, PCC

LAKE VIEW, SC – Residents of Dillon County recently completed a one-day digital literacy learning program conducted by Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), a statewide non-profit organization providing technology, broadband, and telehealth solutions to South Carolinians in rural and underserved communities.

The program was part of a $35,000 Digital Education grant awarded from Spectrum to increase digital inclusion and expand telehealth in rural areas of South Carolina. With this grant, seniors in four rural counties will receive digital inclusion training, digital devices, and assistance with affordable internet service.

“I loved going back home and teaching some of our seniors how to safely use technology and the internet. This training provides them skills and a level of confidence that they did not have. Don’t be mistaken though, as we learned as much from them as they learned from us, and we loved every minute of it! Now, they are connected to a whole new world of opportunities!” said Lake View native and PCC Chief Executive Office Kathy Schwarting.

“We applaud Palmetto Care Connections for their broadband educations 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. “Through this partnership with PCC, 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.”

All participants in PCC’s Digital Literacy Training program learn the basic skills needed to use a computer and internet in daily life, health, and education.

“There are so many people in our community that don’t have access to internet, and don’t have devices to use for telehealth,” said Pat Laird of Lake View. “This is just a great opportunity for them, and they’ve learned a lot of information about how to get other services, like reduced price internet and Wi-Fi. I think it’s just a wonderful opportunity for any community to have this class.”

At the end of the Lake View program, 24 participants learned how to use their Chromebooks for safe internet use; including sending and receiving photos and emails, using the virtual face-to-face app ‘Zoom’ to connect with friends and family, as well as connecting with their doctors for virtual telehealth appointments.

“I feel great, and I really enjoyed this class! I wanted to take this class to learn, and I learned a lot that I didn’t know before I came in,” said Lake View resident Gerlene Brigman. “Everyone was very nice and helpful; I would absolutely recommend this class.”

“I have no technology at my house, and this could be a huge help,” said Dillon County Lakeview Branch Librarian Mertis Barnett. “I’d like to be able to Zoom my kids more. If they don’t come for holidays, I only see them about once or twice a month. I think they’ll be surprised when they find out I took this class and now have my own Chromebook.”

Josephine Gilchrist took to her Facebook, saying “Thanks to the awesome team on showing us seniors how to surf the web in a safe manner…that was very interesting. Yes, I learned something new, plus we all received a brand-new Chromebook laptop computer too!”


About Palmetto Care Connections
Established in 2010, PCC is a non-profit organization that provides technology, broadband, and telehealth solutions to health care providers in rural and underserved areas in South Carolina. PCC hosts the Annual Telehealth Summit of South Carolina presenting state and national best practices and trends, as well as providing networking connections for health care, technology, and broadband

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.

Coronavirus Relief Package includes $7 billion to Expand Broadband Access, Additional Funding to Boost Telehealth Opportunities

By News

The $900 billion COVID relief package passed by Congress this month includes a $7 billion broadband Internet investment. The bill sets aside funding to help low-income families pay for reliable Internet service. It also includes millions for telehealth and for creating up-to-date broadband coverage maps.

While he has called for additional aid, including increasing the amount of the direct payments to Americans, Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), did praise the relief package and said it includes critical support for South Carolina communities.

“It is especially essential during this pandemic that every American have affordable access to health care, education, housing, Internet, and economic opportunity,” said Congressman Clyburn. “The investments in this bill will make progress in all of these areas throughout South Carolina and the Sixth Congressional District.”

In addition to the $7 billion for broadband Internet expansion, the bill appropriates more than $730 million for rural broadband investment through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a news release from Clyburn’s office. Another $3.2 billion will help low-income families to afford Internet service. More funds will pay for the replacement of equipment and support Internet connectivity on tribal lands.

The package includes $250 million to support telehealth. Some of those funds will go to The Medical University of South Carolina’s Center for Telehealth. The MUSC Center is one of only two National Telehealth Centers of Excellence in the country. It provides telehealth services in 44 South Carolina counties, including school-based health clinics which open up health care access to students.

“We cannot have effective delivery of health care without broadband,” said Congressman Clyburn. “We cannot have the kind of educational experiences that our children need without broadband. I think broadband is going to be to the 21st century what electricity was to the 20th century.”

SC Officials Post State’s Broadband Map Online to Display Connectivity Gaps

By News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -The South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff has posted the state’s Broadband Map on its website.

Officials said this map will provide “an accessible platform for the public to see where broadband is – and isn’t – available in South Carolina.”

According to a press release, the goal of the map is to help identify which areas of the state are dealing with lacking connectivity, which contributes to difficulties with distance learning, telework and telehealth.

The office has adopted the FCC definition of “served,” meaning an area must have at least 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps upload speed to count as such.

For more information, and to view the map, click here.

Conway Medical Center, 1st Hospital in SC to Receive Funding from FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program

By News

The Federal Communications Commission released a list of healthcare providers that were approved for funding through its COVID-19 Telehealth Program authorized by the CARES Act. Conway Medical Center, formally known as Conway Hospital, is the first hospital in South Carolina to received funding through this program. Click the link below for more details.

Click here for more information.

Palmetto Care Connections Names Technology Analyst

By Latest News

BAMBERG, SC—Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting announces that Ethan Kemp has joined PCC as technology analyst.

In his position, Kemp assists in maintaining the inventory and database for South Carolina’s Health Care Broadband Consortium led by PCC. The consortium helps eligible health care providers receive significant savings on broadband, internet and telehealth equipment through federal subsidies. Kemp also assists providers in establishing telehealth programs by installing, configuring and maintaining telehealth equipment in medical practices.

Kemp began working at PCC as a technology analyst intern in the summer of 2017 while he attended the University of South Carolina (USC) in Columbia. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree with double majors in business management and marketing at USC in May 2018. He is currently studying health administration at USC’s Arnold School of Public Health and plans to graduate with a Master of Health Administration degree in May 2020.

“Ethan has been interested in rural health care and technology for several years,” said Schwarting. “Growing up in Bamberg, Ethan has experienced the benefits and challenges of living and working in a rural area first- hand. His education and experience are very valuable as Palmetto Care Connections continues to grow telemedicine throughout the rural and underserved areas of our state. We are extremely fortunate to have him on the team.”

Kemp’s previous experience includes public works intern at Bamberg Board of Public Works in Bamberg, S.C. and production intern at Hughes Farms in Clear Pond, S.C.

He is a South Carolina Life Scholarship recipient, a Dean’s List student and a Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity nominee.

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 leads South Carolina’s broadband consortium which facilitates broadband connections throughout the state. PCC co-chairs the South Carolina Telehealth Alliance, along with the Medical University of South Carolina, partnering with health care organizations and providers to improve health care access and delivery for all South Carolinians.

Kathy Rhoad
Director of Public Relations & Program Development 803-707-0131 cell


CARES Act Expands Telehealth Coverage for Medicare, FQHCs and the VA

By Latest News

-mHealth Intelligence

“The $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week includes several telehealth provisions, included more relaxed guidelines for Medicare coverage and new allowances for connected health at federally-qualified health centers (FQHCs), rural health clinics (RHCs) and hospices.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (HR 748), the third bill aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic, also reauthorizes the Health and Resource Service Administration’s Telehealth Resource Center grant programs at $29 million a year through 2025, boosts support for expanded broadband services, encourages the use of remote patient monitoring for home health services in Medicare, and funds new telehealth initiatives for the Indian Health Services and Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Click here to read the entire article.


8th Annual Telehealth Summit POSTPONED

By Latest News, News

As of March 12 after much thought and deliberation, PCC has decided to postpone the 8th Annual Telehealth Summit, scheduled for March 31 – April 2, 2020 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

In light of daily national and statewide developments and the increasing risk of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Palmetto Care Connections has postponed the conference to protect the safety of the Summit speakers, partners, colleagues, sponsors and attendees.

We are happy to announce that we have two potential dates in September that are being considered for rescheduling the Summit. We will announce the new date next week as soon as it is confirmed. For convenience, Summit registration will be automatically transferred to the new date.

We hope that your schedule will allow you to join us as an attendee on the new Summit dates. As we continue to work through the details of rescheduling, we will keep you informed. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to be vigilant about safety precautions, especially hand hygiene.

Thank you for your understanding. If you have questions about your registration or participation in the 2020 Telehealth Summit, please contact us at [email protected] or 803-245-2672.

MUSC and Clemson introduce Healthy Me – Healthy SC to Increase Health Care Access, Fight Health Disparities Statewide

By Blog, Latest News


“Clemson University and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have begun a statewide collaborative program called Healthy Me – Healthy SC, created to improve health care access and combat health disparities across South Carolina.

The newly announced program extends the Clemson-MUSC health sciences collaboration. After nearly two years of successful pilot programs in rural Anderson, Barnwell and Williamsburg counties, the program will begin anticipated statewide expansion under the new title Healthy Me – Healthy SC.”

Click here to read the entire article.

Medicare Remote Patient Monitoring: CMS Finalizes New Code and General Supervision

By Blog, Latest News

-National Law Review

CMS just released the 2020 final rule with changes to remote patient monitoring (RPM), officially titled “Chronic Care Remote Physiologic Monitoring,” reimbursed under the Medicare program, as part of the Physician Fee Schedule changes. The changes, proposed earlier this year, have been hotly-anticipated by digital health companies hoping to see more clarity and flexibility for RPM services.

CMS finalized two changes, both of which are effective January 1, 2020:

  1. RPM can be furnished “incident to” under general supervision; and
  2. CPT Code 99458 is a new add-on code for patients who receive an additional 20 minutes of RPM services in a given month (i.e., 40 minutes of RPM services).Click here to read the entire article.