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Atlantic General Hospital Receives USAC Reimbursement from Maryland Broadband Cooperative

Atlantic General Hospital Receives USAC Reimbursement from Maryland Broadband Cooperative

Caption: Maryland Broadband Cooperative presents a USAC reimbursement check for $193,050 to Atlantic General Hospital as part of a federal program to offset high speed internet expenses for rural not-for-profit hospitals. From left: Jonathan Bauer, AGH vice president of information services; Don Owrey, president and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital; Charlotte Cathell, chair of the AGH Board of Trustees; Chip Bertino, president of the Worcester County Commissioners; Jeremey Sweeney, IT manager at Atlantic General Hospital; Drew Van Dopp, president and CEO of the Maryland Broadband Cooperative; and Tim Hayes, Maryland Broadband Cooperative’s vice president of finance.

Atlantic General Hospital recently secured $193,050 from a federal program that allows not-for-profit healthcare organizations serving rural areas to apply for a 65% discount on eligible broadband services.

The reimbursement, which comes from a Federal Communications Commission fund via the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), is made possible by telecommunications service providers – like those who are members of the Maryland Broadband Cooperative (MdBC) – that pay into the fund to support rural healthcare facilities in bringing world-class healthcare to their patients and families through increased connectivity.

MdBC has provided both lit services and dark fiber (fiber-optic infrastructure not yet in use) to Atlantic General, which allows for the expansion of existing services and telehealth opportunities.

MdBC began the process to construct fiber-optic backbones in strategic locations across the Eastern Shore in 2007 through the support of the Tri-Council of the Lower Eastern Shore in conjunction with the Mid-Shore Regional Council. The first to be completed was on Rt. 113, from Pocomoke, Md., to Berlin and continuing to the Delaware border.

“If not for the vision and effort of the Tri-County Councils, it would not have been possible for us to reach Atlantic General Hospital and to have fostered this great service partnership we’ve had for most of the last decade,” said Drew Van Dopp, president & CEO of MdBC.

Installing broadband fiber in Worcester County allowed Atlantic General to implement its first electronic medical records system in the provider practices in 2008 and execute subsequent upgrades connecting all of its facilities, which requires the secure exchange of large amounts of data at high speeds to function properly.

“We cannot stress enough the incredible impact the efforts of the Tri-County Councils and the Maryland Broadband Cooperative have had on clinical practice and patient care,” said Jonathan Bauer, vice president of information services at Atlantic General. “This reimbursement from USAC helps make broadband internet service more affordable for our organization, thereby reducing the cost of patient care.”

Atlantic General Hospital worked with Network Better, a network and telecommunications professional management company, through 2022 to identify and successfully apply for the USAC dollars.