My husband and I purchased a home and relocated to Greene County in February 2018 from Fredericksburg. We love the location, as well as our new friends and neighbors we have met. The weather, however, is another story.

One reason for the move, besides being closer to UVA for medical care, was to expand my company, Cardinal Institute for Health Careers and its Cardinal Testing Center, to provide State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and Board of Nursing approved workforce entry-level healthcare education programs to interested individuals in need of employment. The limiting factor has been the lack of accessible reliable broadband services.

Today, I received an email in which: “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is now accepting online applications for funding through the new ReConnect Rural Broadband Pilot Program. These funds will enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second download and 1 megabit per second upload. Beginning today, ReConnect funding applications can be submitted at https:// reconnect.usda.gov.”

Adequate access to reliable broadband services is not just needed for educational and social media purposes; it is the critical foundation for Telemedicine and Telehealth. The delivery of healthcare is shifting for patients going to hospitals and doctor’s offices to other delivery sites such as local clinics and directly into the home.

In a February 2014 Health Affairs article, “Connected Health: A Review Of Technologies And Strategies To Improve Patient Care With Telemedicine And Telehealth,” the authors state:

“According to the American Telemedicine Association, “telemedicine is the use of medical information exchange from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” This includes “the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide access to health assessment, diagnosis, interventions, consultation, supervision and information across distance.” (https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/ hlthaff.2013.0992)

With the announcement of the new opportunity for funding, this may be the very time the Greene County Supervisors, Economic Development Authority (EDA), local businesses and other interested parties have been waiting for. As a nurse whose interests include education, Telemedicine and Telehealth, I support any efforts to establish rural broadband and I’m willing to participate in the endeavor as a resident and owner of a future Greene County business.

Linda Copeland, R.N.

President and Dean CARDINAL Institute for Health Careers

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