Just Around the Broadband Bend

It’s often said that life is not measured by the number of breaths all of us take, but by the moments that will take our breath away. I had just such an experience when the Connect2HealthFCC Task Force went to Jackson plus Sunflower County, Mississippi.

Our meetings, roundtables, and web site visits demonstrated the transformative energy of broadband in health. They will reinforced in living color ― indeed, in Ole Miss crimson and Jackson State navy ― that we can’t be weary in well doing and that there is a essential need especially in our rural areas to get broadband done right and get it done right, now. And, they put real faces and households behind our every policy effort.

According to a recent research, Mississippi was ranked the unhealthiest state in the nation for the 3rd consecutive year. As the deputy state epidemiologist Dr . Paul Byers think, Mississippi has the highest number of fatalities from cardiovascular disease and the second highest prevalence of diabetes and weight problems in the country. On the broadband connectivity front side, the vast rural stretches of the state present significant challenges.

But , Mississippi is much more than its health and broadband connectivity metrics. I saw this first hand when the Connect2Health FCC Job Force visited rural Mississippi, the 2nd stop in its Beyond the Beltway series.

With creativeness and courage, the state is traveling hard toward other benchmarks ― connecting every Mississippian to the energy of broadband technology; bringing lifesaving diabetes care and remote overseeing to its most rural residents using wireless broadband; equipping a new generation of physicians with the information and skill to embrace telehealth tools and to use them to improve population health; and emphasizing data analytics around the social determinants of chronic disease.

Governor Phil Bryant, Dr . James Keeton (Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and the Dean of the School of Medication for the University of Mississippi), Doctor Kristi Henderson (Chief Telehealth plus Innovation Officer), Mr. Primus Wheeler (Executive Director, Jackson Medical Mall), Dr . Ricardo Brown (Dean of the College of Public Service on Jackson State University), Mr. Robert Pugh (Executive Director of the Mississippi Primary Health Care Association) and many other state and community leaders have declined to accept the health connectivity status quo and so are laser- focused on leveraging broadband plus advanced technologies to combat these stark chronic disease realities. And, their successes are tangible plus laudable. These passionate, dedicated plus engaged visionaries are transforming the trajectory of broadband-enabled health and care for rural Mississippians.

The Mississippi we saw on Day 1 of the visit is addressing the challenges head on:

  • First, the University of Mississippi Medical Center is driving telehealth further than the boundaries of its health program, with more than 30 specialties, 550 telehealth partners, and 165 non-affiliated providers. The inclusive vision of broadband-enabled health care in Mississippi is to provide an access point in every community, regardless of whether in a hospital, clinic, corporate establishing, school or college.
  • Second, Mississippi is focused on developing out broadband infrastructure based on geography, not population, and striving to identify a business case that makes this approach sustainable for rural areas.
  • Third, the Mississippi experience is usually defining telehealth expansively to include medical care, wellness, workforce development, research, schooling and business development.

On Day 2, so that as part of the Connect2Health FCC mission to explore and power on-the-ground experiences with broadband-enabled wellness solutions in rural and underserved areas, a few members of the Job Force and Commissioner Clyburn journeyed 120 miles to the heart of the Mississippi delta to Ruleville, Mississippi ― population 3, 007 (as of the 2010 census).

Ruleville has an access to care percentage of more than 3000: 1; 58% of its children live in poverty; 44% are usually obese; the town has one doctor, one hospital, one grocery store plus high levels of diabetes and joblessness. So , there was no question regarding the significant needs that broadband may help address. We focused our visit on the North Sunflower County Clinic, which is right down the street from the Fannie Lou Hamer Memorial Garden plus which has been serving the citizens associated with Ruleville since 1950.

While at North Sunflower, two diabetes patients, “Ms. Annie” and “Ms. Jackie, ” shared moving direct accounts of how wireless broadband plus remote monitoring have helped them control their diabetes and avoid the debilitating consequences of the disease through other family members.

All of us also learned that, as a direct consequence of the broadband-enabled remote monitoring effort in Ruleville, hospital admissions with regard to diabetes-related illness are plummeting.

Ruleville was a most fitting conclusion to our visit ― showing a Mississippi further than the prevalence rates and morbidity and mortality ratios; showing a community with limited resources building relationships with health care and industry innovators and using broadband to change lives. Within the words of Ms. Joanie Perkins, Chief Development Officer at North Sunflower County Medical Center, “if Ruleville can do it, anyone can. ” We couldn’t agree more, Ms. Joanie.

On the way returning to Jackson to catch the last air travel home, we passed a sign saluting native son of Sunflower Region and jazz/blues legend B. B. King. Among his many Grammy Award winning hits is the classic: “There must be a better world somewhere. ” And, for Sunflower County and many more rural communities across the country, that much better world is here and now… just round the broadband bend.

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