“Telehealth carts” to be placed in 18 rural senior centers across South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — New telehealth services being introduced in rural areas across South Carolina aim to make visits to the doctor more convenient for senior citizens.

The non-profit telehealth network known as Palmetto Care Connections is partnering with the SC Department on Aging to provide rural and underserved communities with what they’re calling “telehealth carts.”

Director Connie Munn says the 18 strategically placed carts will be located at senior centers in rural areas with higher health disparities — with the goal of having one in every county as time goes on.

“And we do know that in many many of the small rural communities, our hospitals were closing, and so being able to bring telehealth back to the communities is key,” says Munn.

Each cart will include stethoscopes and other medical tools to help collect a patient’s health information as well as a technician to assist senior citizens with the process.

Munn says sometimes caregivers also have a hard time traveling, and the new telehealth stations will help.

“So being able to get to their senior centers which are in their communities — their local communities, who people know and respect — it will cut down on the risk of being exposed to other illnesses and the travel time it takes to get to specialists,” says Munn.

Palmetto Care Connections’ CEO Kathy Schwarting says telehealth carts can be used for primary and specialty care, with most telehealth services covered by a patient’s insurance or Medicare.

“The ultimate goal is that a senior would be able to do a telehealth visit from home, with the device that they have and the internet service that they have. So this is sort of like an intermediary until we can get internet in all the homes. That’s gonna take us a while, unfortunately that’s not an overnight event,” says Schwarting.

The Department on Aging reports that by the year 2035, seniors will make up 24% of South Carolina’s population.

“And we will not rest until all 137 locations have telehealth services available for our seniors,” says Schwarting.

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