Gov. Northam promotes telehealth as reason for needing to expand broadband service

He says pandemic has made telehealth more important

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. – Walking the halls of the Pittsylvania/Danville Health Department Thursday afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam was pleased to see the health department is well-versed in the use of telehealth.

“We know it’s easier and it’s healthier for individuals to receive a lot of their care through telehealth,” said Northam.

Because telehealth visits being conducted were with actual patients, reporters were not allowed to watch.

Gov. Ralph Northam (right) talks with Pittsylvania-Danville Health District Director Dr. Scott Spillman after taking a look at the telehealth capabilities at the district's health department. (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

Dr. Scott Spillman, the director of the Pittsylvania/Danville Health District, said telehealth has been very helpful.

“We’re doing it primarily in our nursing area,” Spillman explained. “Both WIC -- Women, Infants and Children. We’re doing it with our regular public health nurses for anything on our established patients.”

After his visit, Northam headed to South Boston where he was greeted by protesters, one man shouting, calling Northam a traitor and a baby killer, as he made an announcement about a more than $700,000 grant to expand broadband service to over 700 homes and businesses in the area.

While not specifically for telehealth, he said the expansion is critical for the service.

“While we want people to wear their masks, we want them to stay at home, keep social distancing, it’s important they continue to have access to healthcare,” said Northam. “How better to do that than through telehealth? But when people don’t have access to broadband, it makes it difficult.”

Protesters also greeted Northam as he arrived for a tour of the Morgan Olson plant in Pittsylvania County Thursday morning.

About a half dozen people stood on the side of the road leading into the plant and waived flags, saying they want Northam to know they’re not happy with new laws being passed in Richmond.

Expanding broadband service across the commonwealth is something he hopes to be able to use what he calls some one-time spending in the state’s budget to continue.

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