MetroHealth Works To Close Digital Divide For Public Housing Residents

A person holds a smart phone while also working on a laptop computer.
The grant is meant to help CMHA residents continue to receive virtual care appointments. [GaudiLab / Shutterstock]
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MetroHealth is receiving federal money to provide high-speed, low-cost internet to residents in public housing.

The pilot program will use $901,000 of a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant over three years to provide internet for residents in Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) buildings.

“Addressing the digital divide is extremely important. Once people are connected, we can now look at, as a health care facility, new models of care,” said Susan Fuehrer, president of MetroHealth’s Institute of HOPE, in a previous interview.

Models such as telehealth appointments, which became a critical part of providing safe care during the pandemic. 

Research from the Institute for HOPE, which was founded to address the social determinants of health, found that people without internet connections were more likely to experience financial strain, social isolation, and transportation challenges.

“The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority is committed to improving the quality of life of the low-income families we serve throughout Cuyahoga County,” said CMHA Chief Executive Officer Jeffery K. Patterson in a statement. “This opportunity with MetroHealth and partners will ensure residents have access to the critical support, care and medical access needed with high-speed, low-cost internet service through the Connect Care Pilot Program.”

Digital connectivity is one of the factors for which MetroHealth screens its patients. Health care workers screened nearly 26,000 individuals for digital connectivity and more than 800 of them reported they had limited or no access to reliable internet.

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