“Truly high-speed internet is a vital piece of infrastructure that is not available to much of our region,” said Jennifer Wakeman, DRIVE executive director. “To compete in today’s economy students, employees, and businesses need to have access to broadband both at home and at work.”
Geisinger has partnered with DRIVE on the first phase of project by investing $300,000. This forgivable, interest-free loan will fully fund the startup of the project. The Danville-based health system sees the project as not only investing in the local economy but in the community’s health.
“Geisinger has actively supported the communities we serve since our founding with both healthcare services and broader programs,” said Timothy Fitzgerald, vice president of Treasury and Financial Systems for Geisinger. “We know that healthy economies support healthier communities and this project does just that. Among other benefits, it will allow providers and patients to better connect remotely to health services and address many social determinants of health."
The initial work to install the needed technology for a microwave internet distribution is underway at four locations throughout the county: the county’s 9-1-1 tower, Montour County Emergency Management Agency building, Geisinger’s Hospital for Advanced Medicine and USG in Washingtonville. Work is scheduled to be complete by Jan. 1, 2019 with access available later that month.
DRIVE will contract with internet service providers to distribute the internet capacity. Those private businesses will be responsible for sales, service and billing to their customers.
“Wireless microwave technology is a cost-effective way of bringing broadband service to rural areas. This open-access network is built to serve the community and enhance opportunities for economic development,” Wakeman said.
DRIVE, which is committed to economic development in Montour and Columbia counties, consulted other counties in the commonwealth that have done similar projects. The service will likely be expanded to Columbia County once results of the Montour County project are collected.
DRIVE is an economic development council of governments serving Columbia and Montour Counties. DRIVE enhances the region through business retention and expansion as well as spurring new capital investment from companies outside the area. Established in 2015, DRIVE provides professional services to help businesses create and retain family-sustaining jobs. For more information about DRIVE, visit driveindustry.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
One of the nation’s most innovative health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Geisinger is known for its focus on caring and innovative programs including the ProvenCare® best-practice approach to maximize quality, safety and value; ProvenHealth Navigator® advanced medical home; Springboard Health® population health program to improve the health of an entire community; ProvenExperience™ to provide refunds to patients unhappy with their care experience; and Geisinger’s MyCode® Community Health Initiative, the largest healthcare system-based precision health project in the world. With more than 215,000 volunteer participants enrolled, MyCode is conducting extensive research and returning medically actionable results to participants. A physician-led organization, with approximately 32,000 employees and more than 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger leverages an estimated $12.7 billion positive annual impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Repeatedly recognized nationally for integration, quality and service, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to patient care, medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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