Skip to main content

Latest News

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
# # #
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.

PCC Names Program Assistant

By Latest News, News

Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) Chief Executive Officer Kathy Schwarting announces that Ramona Midkiff has joined PCC as program assistant.

In her role, Midkiff provides administrative support to the CEO and department directors, implements financial processes, maintains financial records, and assists with marketing and education activities including website, social media, creative design, presentations and special events.

“Ramona joined PCC in March and hit the ground running,” said Schwarting. “We were finalizing details for our 8th Annual Telehealth Summit of South Carolina, which we subsequently rescheduled due to COVID-19. Since she joined PCC, Ramona has proven to be a dedicated, hardworking team member. She brings exceptional skills in organization, creativity and design, and is well-versed in numerous computer applications. She is a self-starter, very intuitive, and is definitely an asset to PCC.”

Prior to joining PCC, Midkiff was an account executive and graphic artist for Image Group Ink in Orangeburg, S.C. Her previous career experience includes: co-owner of Treasured Memories, a gift and specialty shop in Orangeburg, 2012 – 2017; online sales manager/graphic designer for The Times and Democrat in Orangeburg 2007 – 2012; sales/webmaster for North Furniture in North, S.C., 2005-2007; and manager/graphic designer for Husqvarna in Orangeburg,1991-2005.

Midkiff holds an Associate Degree in engineering graphics from Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. She attended the University of South Carolina in Columbia where she studied graphic design, and she has completed additional classes at OCtech in web design and business.

A resident of North since 1975, Midkiff graduated from North High School. She and her husband Ken, have two grown sons, Christopher (wife Jenny, and daughter Addie), and Dustin (fiancé Lindsay).

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 the S.C. health care broadband consortium which facilitates broadband connections for health care providers 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.

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.

USDA program could soon bring Internet to rural Grand Strand and Pee Dee areas

By Latest News, News


HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Families living in the rural parts of both the Grand Strand and the Pee Dee could soon get connected to high-speed internet thanks to government funding through five different USDA programs for broadband.


  • ReConnect Program: This program provides grants, loans and loan grant combinations to telecommunications service providers, cooperatives, Tribal entities and municipalities to facilitate broadband deployment in under-served rural areas.
  • Rural Broadband Program: This program provides loans to construct, improve or acquire facilities and equipment. This program was re-authorized by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018; commonly known as the 2018 Farm Bill.
  • Community Connect: The Community-Oriented Connectivity Broadband Grant (“Community Connect”) Program provides grants to deliver broadband to rural communities lacking high-speed Internet service. The grants fund broadband infrastructure and broadband connections at community centers.
  • Distance Learning and Telemedicine: This program helps rural communities acquire the technology, equipment and training necessary to virtually connect with educators and medical professionals for remote services.

$8.1 million has already been spent to connect homes in Charleston and Berkeley counties, and the rural areas of the Grand Strand and Pee Dee could be next in the second and third rounds of funding.

“Rural areas lack broadband high-speed internet,” said Debbie Turbeville, the South Carolina director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development department.

The USDA is looking to bring an internet connection to the most rural parts of South Carolina.

“You think about all the students that go home in the afternoons and they have no internet, or their internet’s so poor it takes them two or three hours to connect,” said Turbeville.

It’s through ReConnect, one of five USDA broadband programs that gives funding to service providers in under-served rural areas.

They’ve already connected homes in Huger, South Carolina in the first round of funding, and rural counties along the Grand Strand and Pee Dee could be next.

“We started out with $600 million, and then Congress appropriated $550 more million, so there’s plenty of funding,” Turbeville replied.

Cooperatives, municipalities and non-profits are just some of the eligible applicants.

Turbeville says the program makes a tremendous difference in education.

“Children can compete with other students in other areas, urban areas, that have better high-speed internet,” she said.

Rural families are just one sector the program affects. “It’ll also help hospitals and colleges and businesses. It’ll attract businesses to communities,” Turbeville pointed out.


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.

$9.75 Million USDA ReConnect Rural Broadband Grant Goes to South Carolina County

By Blog, Latest News

– Joan Engebretson (telecompetitor)

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it has awarded a $9.75 million ReConnect grant to Orangeburg County, S.C. The USDA ReConnect rural broadband grant will go toward making broadband available to 3,911 households, 21 farms, 17 rural businesses, 13 educational facilities, nine critical community facilities and a health care center, USDA said.”