Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, State Leaders And Comcast Address Telehealth And Digital Equity For Older Adults

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, State Leaders And Comcast Address Telehealth And Digital Equity For Older Adults

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and dozens of community leaders joined Comcast for a statewide virtual summit today to spotlight the critical need to connect more older adults to the internet and telehealth resources, particularly during the COVID 19 pandemic.

As millions of people practice social distancing and shelter in place, they have turned to the internet to find news about the virus, continue school online, work remotely, access healthcare information, and more. The abrupt transition has brought more attention to the state's digital divide, which Comcast has been focused on closing for nearly a decade through its Internet Essentials low-cost broadband adoption program.

The virtual summit included a tele-health showcase with Meharry Medical Group, Cohen Veterans' Services, and Interfaith Dentistry, a policy interview with State Representative Robin Smith as well as discussions with community partners including the Knoxville-Knox County Office on Aging, Nashville Public Library, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, and Alpha Omega Veterans.

Through a series of donations, giveaways, technology utilization, and testimonials, Comcast, Governor Lee, and several state partners highlighted the growing need for seniors to have a sense of inclusion - with their caregivers, their families and the individuals who contribute to their wellbeing.

"Telehealth and telemedicine efforts across our state are opening new avenues to stay healthy, offer greater access to healthcare and mitigate costs," Governor Lee said. "Providing Tennesseans with telehealth options and working to bridge the digital divide is important to the future of our state."

"Whether someone is connecting with family or meeting with a doctor, reliance on technology has sky-rocketed this year. This unprecedented shift to virtual interactions is leaving some people behind," Governor Lee said. "Equal access to technology for everyone is a top priority for me, and I thank Comcast and all of the organizations who are working to make digital equity a reality."

"This year has reinforced how important internet access is for everyone," said Comcast Regional Senior Vice President Jason Gumbs. "We are proud to have the support of Governor Bill Lee and our incredible community partners as we continue to do everything we can to raise awareness and help bridge the digital divide, particularly now at a time when the need for connection is so great."

Since August 2011, Internet Essentials has connected more than eight-million low-income individuals, from two-million households, to the Internet at home, most for the very first time. This number includes more than 300,000 residents across Tennessee. To help provide additional support to students and families, Comcast has offered 60 days of complimentary Internet service to new, eligible Internet Essentials customers. Originally set to expire on December 31, the offer was extended through June 2021. In addition, Comcast will continue to waive, through the end of the year, the requirement that customers not have a past due balance with Comcast to qualify for the offer.

During today's event, Comcast announced it will provide $50,000 in grants and more than 700 laptops in total to the following Tennessee community organizations:

Alpha Omega Veterans - Memphis

  • $20,000 grant for technology upgrades for veterans' housing & programs
  • 115 laptops for veterans

Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association - Memphis

  • $10,000 grant for senior companion program
  • 130 laptops for senior companion program volunteers and participants (three featured in summit)

Nashville Public Library - Nashville

  • 250 laptops for tele-health programs for older adults

McGruder Family Resource Center - Nashville

  • $10,000 grant for digital literacy training classes for older adults

Urban Housing Solutions - Nashville

  • A new Comcast "LiftZone" computer lab at the Charlotte Community Center

Office on Aging - Knoxville

  • $10,000 grant for digital literacy training classes
  • 250 laptops for older adults in the programs