Cleveland, OH,
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MetroHealth, Partners Address Digital Divide in Clark-Fulton

Gary Murphy

Research tells us that about 80% of a person’s health depends on factors beyond medical care. One of those factors is access to reliable internet. Here’s how the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ and others in the community are helping bridge the digital divide.

In the early 1990s, Gary Murphy suffered a devastating head injury that left his brain swollen and kept him in the hospital for four months.

He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t live life as it was meant to be lived.

Thirty years later – standing tall, and in a booming baritone – Murphy recited a simple poem he wrote to express his gratitude to MetroHealth.

“When the odds are all against you and there’s nowhere else to turn, there’s help around the corner – of this I’m sure you’ll learn,” Murphy belted.

But for Murphy and so many others, the “help” he speaks of is not just world-class medical care.

Murphy recited the poem at a recent graduation ceremony for a digital literacy program supported by MetroHealth’s Institute for H.O.P.E.™ at Scranton Castle, a Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority housing complex near the health system’s main campus. The 66-year-old is among 350 households in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood to receive subsidized internet through an innovative partnership between MetroHealth, AT&T, DigitalC and Dollar Bank.

Digital connectivity plays a major role in an individual’s ability to succeed. A reliable internet connection is necessary to access social service resources, health care portals, online coursework and job applications.

“No one wants to feel alone in their lives,” Murphy said about the value of his digital literacy training and web connectivity. “When you have the ability to reach out to others, that enables them to feel better about themselves.”

MetroHealth President and CEO 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. At the time, Dr. Boutros said, “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.”

As of Spring 2021, the Institute for H.O.P.E.™ had screened nearly 26,000 individuals for digital connectivity – more than 700 of which reported they had limited or no access to reliable internet. Results of the screenings 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 is one way we’re doing that.”

To view the latest quarterly report from the Institute for H.O.P.E., which includes this story and its latest social determinant of health screening data, click here. For more information about the Institute, visit

About The MetroHealth System

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 five hospitals, four emergency departments, and more than 20 health centers and 40 additional sites. Each day, our nearly 9,000 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