During the past year, COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of individuals across the nation. However, in many situations technology has been able to step in and effectively fill the void, whether that is in education or healthcare. Unfortunately, not everyone in our region has dependable internet access. Ohio Hills Health Services (OHHS) received the Managed Care Plans Rural Community Telehealth Grant to provide telehealth in the nursing homes in Monroe County and to provide an internet hotspot at the Monroe Family Health Center to increase health and educational access for area residents.
“The Telehealth Grant caused us to sit down and evaluate how we could further benefit our communities. Accessible healthcare is our priority, but we felt that particularly during the pandemic having free internet access available would be a great service to the community,” said Jeff Britton, CEO, OHHS. “We know in our rural communities many individuals do not have access to dependable internet to meet their health or educational needs and we felt this was a way we could assist.”
The grant funding allowed OHHS to install a Wi-Fi hotspot in the parking lot at the Monroe Family Health Center. Inspired by the grant, OHHS absorbed the cost to install Wi-Fi hotspots at the Barnesville Family Health Center, Freeport Family Health Center and the Quaker City Family Health Center. These Wi-Fi “hotspots” are for individuals who do not have internet access and who would like to utilize telemedicine for health and behavioral healthcare. In addition, community residents can also use the “hotspot” to connect to the internet to complete homework assignments, apply for jobs, or search for needed services.
The utilization of telehealth limits individual’s potential exposure to COVID-19 as they do not need to enter a medical facility. This is also a resource for behavioral health counseling sessions. If a client does not have home internet or cellular service but is reluctant to enter the building, they will be able to drive to a OHHS Health Center parking lot and access the internet for their telehealth counseling session. OHHS is also hoping this new service will benefit families that do not have home internet access. They can use this free community Wi-Fi “hotspot” for their children to get online to complete school assignments.
The internet access will be operational every day from 7 AM-11PM at no charge to area residents. Residents need to simply come to an OHHS parking lot, and they can access the Wi-Fi for free. If you need additional information regarding the Wi-Fi “hotspots” or regarding OHHS and the services provided, please call 740-239-6447.
Photo: Accessing the internet from a Wi-Fi “hotspot” at a OHHS Health Center parking lot.