Mitchell and Madison counties are two counties in our area that will receive grants to improve telehealth. The North Carolina Department of Information Technology Broadband Infrastructure Office in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of Rural Health was awarded $633,940 by the Appalachian Regional Commission and a matching award of $97,200 from the Dogwood Health Trusts for the Healthy and Connected Workforce initiative. Through the initiative, the agencies and their partners will implement a robust digital inclusion program while simultaneously increasing access to healthcare and economic opportunity for workers, vulnerable populations and disadvantaged groups in North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission region of Macon, Madison and Mitchell counties.
Increasing access to quality healthcare through telehealth, broadband adoption and increased digital literacy will both improve the health of residents and enhance their ability to actively participate in the local workforce.
The project will take a three-pronged approach. The Office of Rural Health will develop a Telehealth Technical Assistance model to provide support to health care sites across North Carolina interested in increasing access to care via telehealth. The project partners will launch three pilot programs in Macon, Madison and Mitchell counties to test and refine the implementation of telehealth programs. They will develop a health and digital literacy curricula for the telehealth pilot program participants. Participants will receive computers, digital and health literacy skills training and 50 percent of a monthly subscription fee for internet service from a local provider–provided by the Dogwood HealthTrust matching grant to the program–to foster broadband adoption and use.
To date, ARC has invested more than $238 million in 293 projects, touching 353 counties across Appalachia since 2015. More information about ARC’s POWER Initiative is available at www.arc.gov/power.