Cleveland, OH,
08:40 AM

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.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System is redefining health care by going beyond medical treatment to improve the foundations of community health and well-being: affordable housing, a cleaner environment, economic opportunity and access to fresh food, convenient transportation, legal help and other services. The system strives to become as good at preventing disease as it is at treating it.

The system’s more than 600 doctors, 1,700 nurses and 7,800 employees go to work each day with a mission of service, to their patients and to the community. As Cuyahoga County’s safety-net health system, MetroHealth plays an essential role in the region, caring for anyone and everyone, regardless of an ability to pay.

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth operates four hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites throughout Cuyahoga County. The system serves more than 300,000 patients, two-thirds of whom are uninsured or covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

MetroHealth is home to Cuyahoga County’s most experienced Level I Adult Trauma Center, verified since 1992, and Ohio’s only adult and pediatric trauma and burn center.

As an academic medical center, MetroHealth is committed to research and to teaching and training tomorrow’s caregivers. Each active staff physician holds a faculty appointment at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Its main campus hospital houses the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s Lincoln-West School of Science & Health, the only high school in America located inside a hospital.

Knowing that good health is about much more than good medical care, MetroHealth has launched the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ (Health, Opportunity, Partnership, Empowerment), which uses a coordinated, collaborative and strategic approach to help patients with non-medical needs such as healthy food, stable housing and job training.

The MetroHealth Glick Center, a new 11-floor hospital, is under construction on the system’s main campus in Cleveland and is scheduled to welcome its first patients in October 2022. The billion-dollar project is the cornerstone of a wider neighborhood revitalization effort led by the system and its partners in the community.

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