Call for broadband access

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Local delegation joins national effort

This week, two New Mexico health care professionals, two online learning educators and a small business owner, will travel to Washington, D.C. to ask congressional leaders to support efforts to expand broadband access to rural and underserved areas.
Debra Newman, a physician’s assistant at a rural health center in Espanola, will lead the delegation.
Joining her on the trip are William Dubois, a diabetes educator and resident of Pecos Valley; Alice Hopkins-Loy, Field Manager of Fast Forward New Mexico and resident of Santa Fe and Eva Artschwager, University of New Mexico distance-learning professor and resident of San Miguel County.
Also going with the group are Ron Patel, owner of Just Dine In, an Internet restaurant-delivery business in Albuquerque.
The New Mexico delegation is traveling to speak on behalf of a coalition of local Chambers of Commerce, members of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Grange, teachers, farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and others seeking the extension of broadband communications technology to small towns and unincorporated areas of the nation.
“This technology is a godsend for our patients,” said Newman whose work with El Centro Family Health and with Project ECHO (the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), utilizes advanced telecommunications technology to overcome barriers of distance and cost to patients.
“It’s amazing how we use the technology. Broadband allows us to provide greater access to care, especially for patients in rural and underserved communities. The results are better quality care and a healthier population.”
El Centro serves 10s of thousands of patients over a 22,000 square mile, highly rural region of northern New Mexico.  
Newman has treated hundreds of patients in her community for addictions, Hepatitis C, psychiatric disorders and chronic pain.
She will tell congressional leaders that access to broadband Internet directly improves access to care — saving lives and money.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than 60 percent of American adults seek information about health care online.
And, without expanded access to broadband, rural residents will remain at a distinct disadvantage.
During their Oct. 3-4 visit, the New Mexico delegation hopes to convince congressional leaders to support initiatives that can lead to rapid expansion of mobile broadband to rural areas in New Mexico.
This fly-in unites a variety of organizations and individuals who share a common goal: bringing increased access to high-speed Internet to more Americans across the nation, particularly in rural communities.   
This collaboration of concerned New Mexicans intend to deliver the message that increasing access to high-speed Internet is a critical component of creating jobs, improving health care, providing higher education, and ensuring a prosperous future for rural America and rural Americans.

Tom Carroll