Texas Governor Greg Abbott stopped in Greenville Wednesday, where he received the Broadband Champion Award during a ceremony at the Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville.
Abbott, along with Todd Baxter with Charter Communications/Connect the Future Texas and Hunt Regional Healthcare CEO Lee Boles spoke on how broadband access assists patients in communities in rural areas across the Texas reach medical assistance through telehealth/telemedicine and how expanding reliable broadband connectivity will be a key issue in the next session of the Texas Legislature.
Boles said the Hunt Regional Medical Center utilities telehealth applications in three primary areas; through the agency’s medical partners, using the Behavioral Health Clinic and through the Discharge Clinic.
“We tried to get telehealth off the ground for a couple of years,” Boles said, adding it was a difficult start. “And it became an overnight success with the advent of COVID and the onset of lockdowns.”
Since then, Boles said the use of telehealth has become an invaluable part of the hospital’s operations.
“Since the onset of COVID I think we’ve been doing some 24,000 telehealth visits with our physician practices and they continue to do between 1,500 and 2,000 per month,” Boles said, referencing several of the physicians and assistants who use the service, who attended the press conference.
He explained the physicians are able to talk with patients in the outlying areas of Hunt County, without them having to drive to the centers in Greenville, Commerce or Quinlan.
“They continue to follow up with them if they are in other communities, other counties or other states even,” Boles said.
Baxter said Connect The Future Texas was excited to hear how Abbott listed expanding broadband access as a key issue during the previous session of the Texas Legislature.
“And under his leadership there were a couple of pieces of legislation passed,” Baxter said, referring to the Pole Replacement Program, which expanded infrastructure improvements and a grant program to provide broadband access to underserved and rural communities in Texas.
“And we can’t be more excited to see what lies ahead of us in the State of Texas for broadband deployment,” Baxter said.
Abbott noted how how Hunt Regional’s success in applying telehealth is an example of how important it will be to provide broadband across Texas.
“Broadband access is no longer a luxury,” Abbott said. “It is an essential tool for every sector.”