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The WISE Telehealth Network in Rural Charleston County Receives Funding to Improve Women’s Health

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The WISE (Women in the South-East) Telehealth Network has been chosen to receive funding from the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare to increase access to high value, quality healthcare in rural areas. The Charleston County Public Library (CCPL) System is one of five organizations statewide receiving funding to support library systems as hubs to improve community health.

“We are proud to work with local libraries and their partners,” Dr. Kevin Bennett, Director of the Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare, said. “Our primary goal is to help improve rural residents’ access to quality healthcare. Relying on solutions proposed by those in the community will only further that goal.”

The mission of the WISE Telehealth Network is to improve women’s health and well-being by providing preventive care through telehealth at local libraries in the rural lowcountry. Funding for WISE will impact rural areas in Charleston County by connecting women to healthcare resources in maternal care, infectious disease, and mental health. CCPL will increase healthcare access and address health disparities through direct provision and referral, offering care management, and connecting women to available community and social services. This project is made possible through a partnership with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), and the College of Charleston.

“We are so thrilled to be working together with these three organizations so that we can make an impact to women in rural parts of Charleston County,” said Deputy Director of Innovation Natalie Hauff. “CCPL works hard to break down barriers in order to provide accessibility to information and resources, so this collaboration aligns perfectly with our mission.”

“In our research, women in the rural lowcountry described the local public library as an ideal location for a telehealth initiative. WISE will connect women in rural Charleston County to vital services through telehealth appointments with MUSC physicians and low-cost referrals to DHEC for in-person services,” said principal investigator and project lead, Dr. Beth Sundstrom, Associate Professor and Director of the Women’s Health Research Team at the College of Charleston.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, women have disproportionately had to assume responsibilities for childcare and drop out of the work force. Our goal is offer opportunities for women to interact with providers without having to arrange childcare for a clinic visit,” said MUSC OBGYN, Dr. Gweneth Lazenby. “This initiative will offer women-centered care that will increase access to healthcare, early intervention services, continuity of care, and availability of resources through telehealth.”

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