FCC Selects MetroHealth to Expand High-Speed, Low-Cost Broadband Access to Low-Income Patients Residing in CMHA Housing
MetroHealth’s proposed pilot project has been selected by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to participate in the FCC’s Connected Care Pilot Program. This pilot will support the System’s Digital Connectivity Initiative, which includes providing patients living in the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) housing with high-speed, low-cost internet access. The pilot proposes FCC funding of $901,000 over three years to subsidize internet connection for CMHA residents.
This opportunity builds on previous FCC funding for MetroHealth’s Hospital in the Home Program – launched in 2020 to care for COVID-19 patients and vulnerable/high-risk non-COVID-19 patients remotely in the patient’s home via live video telehealth exams. Remote health care helps patients in the treatment of chronic and long-term health conditions including diabetes, hypertension and issues related to mental health.
The Digital Connectivity Initiative, launched last year, is operated by MetroHealth’s Institute for H.O.P.E.™ The Initiative enables MetroHealth neighbors – including residents at CMHA’s Scranton Castle building - to connect to the internet and with their health care providers through video visits and health coaching.
The first households in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood began receiving subsidized internet access in April 2020. Low-cost internet service was made available last summer to residents in the CMHA Scranton Castle senior apartment complex off West 25th Street. This project connected over 300 individuals and households with internet access in 2020.
MetroHealth was selected for the FCC pilot for its innovative approach to providing connectivity for patients residing in public housing and facilitating treatment of chronic physical or mental health conditions.
The FCC opportunity of up to $901,000 builds on the contribution from Dollar Bank last year for $600,000 over a five-year period to help MetroHealth partner with local non-profit DigitalC to provide low-cost internet access to up to 1,000 low and moderate-income households in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood.
Dr. Akram Boutros made a bold commitment to address the digital divide in Clark-Fulton in 2019 – well before the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the digital disparities in Greater Cleveland.
“With internet access, patients can see their doctors without leaving home, get prescriptions filled, schedule tests and share health information so caregivers can address issues before they become critical – and expensive – emergencies,” Dr. Boutros said at the time.
“The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is committed to improving the quality of life of the low-income families we serve throughout Cuyahoga County,” said CMHA Chief Executive Officer Jeffery K. Patterson. “This opportunity with MetroHealth and partners will ensure residents have access to the critical support, care and medical access needed with high-speed, low-cost internet service through the Connect Care Pilot Program.”
The Institute for H.O.P.E.™ has screened nearly 26,000 individuals for digital connectivity – more than 800 of them reported they had limited or no access to reliable internet. Results of the screenings completed in Spring 2021 revealed that those without internet connectivity were more likely to experience financial strain, social isolation and transportation challenges.
“This work has always been important, but the pandemic only added to the urgency of ensuring our community has access to reliable internet,” said Susan Fuehrer, President, Institute for H.O.P.E.™ “The digital divide is a community-wide challenge that requires community-wide solutions. The only way we can build a healthier Cleveland is through teamwork and collaboration. Our work with DigitalC and other community partners is one way we’re doing that.”
In addition to DigitalC, MetroHealth is partnering on the Digital Connectivity Initiative with AT&T, Baldwin Wallace / AmeriCorps, Computers Assisting People, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cuyahoga Community College, Esperanza, MCPc, Metro West Community Development Organization, PCs for People and US Communications and Electric Inc.
Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through four hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our 8,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable health care–through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services–that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit metrohealth.org.