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Rural-urban telehealth divide evident among privately insured Americans

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Source: mHealthIntelligence

By Anuja Vaidya

Telehealth use increased significantly among Americans with private insurance after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the rural-urban divide remained.

 – Though telehealth use skyrocketed among United States adults with private health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research reveals that rural residents utilized telehealth less than their urban peers.

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Empowering Communities: A Mother’s Digital Journey with Palmetto Care Connections

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Written by: Campbell Mims, Sweatman Strategies, LLC

Latasha King balanced motherhood, her career as a community health worker, and her own education with the finesse of a seasoned multitasker. When Palmetto Care Connections (PCC) introduced a digital literacy class alongside free tablets, Latasha saw it as both an opportunity and a necessity.

“Honestly,” she explained, “we had to take the course to receive the tablet. So, just to go over the basic information of learning how to be digitally literate with the tablet was enormously helpful.”

While the class was initially mandatory, Latasha approached it with an open mind, recognizing the potential benefits beyond just fulfilling a requirement. “Yes, I think that it was good to have someone to go step-by-step to make sure everybody understood what was being done,” she expressed, highlighting the importance of accessible learning for all.

As a mother and a professional, Latasha understood the significance of mastering even the most basic tablet functions. “Just as something as basic as turning on the tablet… because some people just don’t understand,” she emphasized, acknowledging the diverse needs of her community, from older individuals unfamiliar with technology to those facing cognitive challenges.

Latasha’s journey with the tablet extended beyond personal use. “My daughter is now two years old, but we have graduated at 18 months,” she shared proudly. The tablet not only served as a tool for educational and recreational purposes but also facilitated telehealth appointments, ensuring access to vital healthcare resources.

Reflecting on the impact of the digital literacy class, Latasha recognized a newfound confidence in navigating technology, both personally and professionally. “I think the class helped a lot… on the workforce, the professional side, it was easier,” she affirmed, highlighting the streamlined processes enabled by newfound skills.

In her role as a community health worker, Latasha found herself not only implementing these skills with her clients but also teaching her daughter the basics of tablet use. Her experiences underscored the importance of patience and accessibility in digital education. While she didn’t personally utilize telehealth during her pregnancy, Latasha witnessed its transformative potential for her clients, especially those facing transportation challenges. “I have had clients that were able to use it during their telehealth,” she explained, emphasizing the invaluable role of technology in overcoming barriers to healthcare access.

Latasha’s narrative painted a picture of empowerment and resilience, both for herself and her community. Through the support and guidance provided by PCC, she navigated the digital landscape with newfound ease, enriching the lives of those around her.

With a smile on her face that only the power of knowledge and education could create, Latasha expressed gratitude for the transformative impact of the digital literacy class and the unwavering support of PCC. Her story was a testament to the power of education and technology in bridging gaps and empowering communities to thrive in the digital age.

Orangeburg Distribution Day

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Orangeburg Distribution Day was a huge success! We are thrilled to announce that we distributed devices to 15 individuals with Healthy Connections Medicaid Cards, providing them with vital tools for accessing digital resources. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible support and hospitality of the Orangeburg County Library staff. Their contributions made the day smooth and enjoyable for everyone involved. This event marks a significant step towards digital inclusion and bridging the digital divide in our community. By providing these devices, we are empowering individuals to access essential online services and improve their overall well-being. Here’s to a healthier and more connected future for everyone in Orangeburg!

Two-Year Extension of Medicare Telehealth Flexibilities

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Source: Center for Connected Health Policy

Federal telehealth waivers have been extended for two more years, allowing patients to continue accessing healthcare from the comfort of their homes. This means no geographic restrictions and the inclusion of audio-only visits. Plus, the Acute Hospital Care at Home initiative is here to stay! At Palmetto Care Connections, we’re dedicated to empowering our patients with convenient, high-quality care.

Two-Year Extension of Medicare Telehealth Flexibilities

Earlier this month, the House Ways and Means Committee marked up and passed HR 8261 “Preserving Telehealth, Hospital and Ambulance Access Act,” which would provide a two-year extension of the current temporary Medicare telehealth waivers. Included in the proposed extension are the temporary waivers on:

  • The geographic and originating site limitations
  • Expanded list of providers eligible for reimbursement by Medicare if they provided services via telehealth, including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs)
  • Continued delay of the in-person visit requirement for mental health services provided via telehealth when not meeting certain location requirements
  • Continued coverage for some services to be provided via audio-only

The temporary waivers would be extended to December 31, 2026.

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Telestroke treatment proves lifesaver for rural seniors, data reveals

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Source: McKnight Senior Living


The use of telehealth programs for stroke patients in rural areas, where access to in-person specialists could be difficult, makes a huge difference in receiving faster, life-saving diagnoses, a new report finds.

With stroke deaths disturbingly on the rise, the ability to shorten what is described as the “door-to-needle” time for possible stroke victims is crucial.

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Lowcountry Leaders Rally as ACP Winds Down

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Lowcountry leaders rally as federal internet program winds down: Yesterday, the Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition (LDEC) convened at North Charleston City Hall, guiding residents through the conclusion of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Since 2021, this initiative has provided internet access to 23 million households nationwide, but with funding dwindling, it’s ending this month. Nearly 35,000 Tri-County households, totaling 91,732 residents, will be affected.
Ryan Wilcox, Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester County of Governments, Mary Ann Gilmer, Palmetto Goodwill, Aaron Jones, TriCounty Cradle to Career, Natalie Hauff, Charleston Co. Public Library, Ashlee Parra, PCC, and Kenya Dunn, Board of Directors Chair TCCC, are pictured, spearheading efforts to ensure community readiness and awareness of available resources.

“Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition (LDEC) Elects Inaugural Executive Committee”

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Source: Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition
Stacey Lendbergh, LDEC Co-Manager

(Charleston, SC) – The LDEC membership have elected the inaugural Executive Committee to lead the regional alliance which represents a cross-sector of businesses, governments, and other community anchor institutions, dedicated to activities that ensure digital equity across Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties.

The Executive Committee members are:

  • Mary Ann Gilmer – Vice President of Mission, Palmetto Goodwill
  • Natalie Hauff, Deputy Director, Innovation, Charleston County Public Library
  • Ashlee Parra, DIgital Literacy Program Manager, Palmetto Care Connections
  • Ryan Wilcox, Regional Economic Development Specialist, BCD Council of Governments

“The One Region Roadmap identified digital equity as a critical action area that must be addressed to create a resilient and prosperous economy that works for all residents. As One Region’s lead agent for digital equity, the Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition (LDEC) has taken action that has positively impacted residents of our region and helped inform South Carolina’s stated digital equity goals. This formalization of LDEC gives us the structure and support to reach those in need faster and in more meaningful ways,” Ryan Wilcox, BCDCOG and Managing Director of One Region.

As a component of its mission, The LDEC will lead and support regional efforts to:

  • ensure that all residents of Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester Counties have access to affordable, reliable high speed internet to benefit from this technology in order to thrive to their fullest potential.
  • achieve goals and objectives outlined by the SC Digital Equity Plan and the Digital Equity Act of 2021.

About The Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition:

The Lowcountry Digital Equity Coalition (LDEC) is a regional public-private partnership responsible for setting and conducting the strategic priorities of the tri-county in the Charleston/N. Charleston MSA on matters related to digital inclusion. The LDEC is managed by backbone agency, Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC).


Career Day at Carolina Springs Elementary

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Teddy Hodge, a dedicated Network Analyst at Palmetto Care Connections (PCC), took center stage at Carolina Springs Elementary for Career Day. With enthusiasm, he shared his journey, and the vital role PCC plays in serving rural and underserved communities across South Carolina. Through engaging anecdotes and insightful discussions, Teddy showcased how PCC’s staff harnesses technology to bridge healthcare gaps, bringing essential services to those in need.

Empowering Through Education: Five Minutes with Brittney Hawkins

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Palmetto Care Connections written by Campbell Mims, Sweatman Strategies, LLC

In the quiet rural outskirts of Estill, South Carolina, Brittney navigated her life as a dedicated mother of three boys. Juggling parenthood, work, and health concerns, she found herself facing numerous challenges, especially when it came to accessing medical care for herself and her family. But amidst the trials of rural living, a glimmer of hope emerged in the form of digital literacy education offered by Palmetto Care Connections (PCC).

Brittney’s journey with PCC began unexpectedly, stemming from a simple checkbox on a Medicaid form. Little did she know, this decision would open doors to invaluable resources and opportunities. Initially hesitant about her technological prowess, Brittney embarked on the digital literacy class with curiosity and a desire to learn.

As she delved into the course, Brittney discovered a world of possibilities unfolding before her. Initially drawn to the idea of leveraging technology for medical purposes, she soon realized the broader implications of her newfound skills. “Having that information at my fingertips allows me to have control over my well-being,” Brittney said. Through telehealth appointments and easy access to medical records via her tablet, Brittney gained a newfound sense of control over her family’s healthcare journey.

The impact of the digital literacy class transcended mere convenience; it became a lifeline during critical moments. When her youngest son fell ill, Brittney’s ability to access and share his medical history with healthcare providers proved instrumental in diagnosing and treating his condition effectively. “It just kind of empowers you more as the patient,” stated Brittney. What once seemed like an insurmountable challenge in rural healthcare now became manageable, thanks to the knowledge she gained.

But the class didn’t stop at healthcare—it empowered Brittney to take charge of her overall well-being. Armed with the ability to track her health metrics and access medical resources, she embarked on a journey towards a healthier lifestyle. By leveraging her digital literacy skills to monitor her progress and make informed decisions, Brittney shed light on the transformative potential of education and technology.

Reflecting on her experience, Brittney emphasized the importance of providing not just resources but also the necessary training and knowledge to utilize them effectively. “”If you give me something and you explain to me what I need to do to make this work for me then I’m good to go.,” remarked Brittney, a sentiment shared by other participants as well. She likened it to giving someone a bike without teaching them how to ride it—a sentiment that resonated deeply with her journey with PCC.

In the end, Brittney’s story epitomized the transformative power of education and technology in empowering individuals, especially those in underserved communities. Through PCC’s digital literacy class, she not only gained practical skills but also found a newfound sense of confidence and agency in navigating life’s challenges—one digital step at a time.