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Posted on: March 8, 2022

City of Schenectady Applies for $1.75 Million in CARES Act Funding to Expand Wi-Fi Connectivity

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Request is Part of Nearly $2.5 Million in Projects Designed to Prevent, Prepare, and Respond to COVID-19 and Future Public Health Threats

SCHENECTADY – Mayor Gary McCarthy today announced the City of Schenectady has submitted an application for a $2.5 million Community Development Block Grant with New York State Homes and Community Renewal under the federal CARES Act.

The funding will allow Schenectady to invest in wireless technology and infrastructure to provide access to public health information via a new community information portal, expand access to public Wi-Fi for remote learning and working, and launch a new Stay Well telehealth patient monitoring service for seniors at risk of COVID-19 to mitigate infection, reduce hospital readmissions and support immune compromised residents.

The CARES Act block grants are designed to help communities across the country make investments that will better prevent, prepare, and respond to the Coronavirus and future public health threats.

“I’m hopeful that New York State Homes and Community Renewal will see the necessity of our grant application and the innovative approach of these forward-thinking public health initiatives,” said Mayor McCarthy. “We worked closely with our community health partners and friends at the Smart City Advisory Commission to develop a set of projects that will allow us to expand public access to Wi-Fi for our underserved communities, better deliver important public health information with a new community information portal and improve the quality of life for at-risk seniors with a Stay Well state-of-the-art remote patient monitoring system.”

Expanded Wi-Fi Access:

The City of Schenectady will invest a total of $2.25 million in expanding Wi-Fi connectivity in the neighborhoods of Goose Hill, Park Place/Huron, and the Stockade – the City’s portion of the investment will be $500,000. The expansion of public access to Wi-Fi will bridge the digital divide for low to moderate income residents, aid the Schenectady City School District in providing a more equitable education for their students, and also support the Schenectady Fire Department’s Emergency Telemedicine project to direct persons with minor medical needs who call 911 to a new Virtual ER which will reduce the need for in-person emergency medical response.

Community Information Portal:

The community information portal, which will be the new landing page of the expanded public Wi-Fi, will be a public information and news website developed and managed by The Daily Gazette on behalf of the City of Schenectady. The portal will provide important public health information and news regarding COVID-19, as well as helpful information from the City school district, local medical provider links for community health education and quick response emergencies, access to police and community safety updates, and general information from the City regarding services, traffic, parking, public meetings, and community initiatives.  

The portal will also provide access to local news and a community forum to allow residents to interact directly with the City on various topics such as public health, community development, and quality of life topics. The intent is to allow community health partners and other businesses to sponsor and advertise on the website so that it will become self-sufficient. The grant funding will cover the start-up cost of the portal, which includes two full-time employees, and has an initial budget of $250,000.

“We are honored that the City of Schenectady chose to partner with The Daily Gazette on such a vital public health and community information initiative,” said The Daily Gazette publisher John DeAugustine. “The Daily Gazette is looking forward to working with Mayor McCarthy and his team to develop a self-sustaining and user-friendly community portal that will become the go-to website for residents, businesses, and visitors interested in the latest information and news regarding public health and the City of Schenectady.”

Stay Well Telehealth Monitoring: 

The CARES ACT grant funding will allow the City to work with healthcare partner Ellis Medicine, and healthcare technology partners Idion and Advanced Diagnostics, Inc., to launch a state-of-the-art Stay Well remote patient monitoring pilot program for seniors 65 and older who are at risk of COVID-19 or who are undergoing surgeries or treatments which put them at high risk of infection.  

The health monitoring service will be utilized to help mitigate infection, reduce hospital readmissions, and support immune compromised residents by allowing the hospital system to monitor patient temperature. The pilot program is designed to become self-sufficient and will have the ability to expand into monitoring vital signs, respiration rates, blood oxygen levels and patient fall detection. The grant will cover the initial expense of the project and will cost $491,290.

“Ellis Medicine couldn’t be more excited about this wonderful partnership with the City of Schenectady and the possibility of providing access to telehealth patient monitoring services to Schenectady’s at-risk seniors,” said Ellis Medicine president and CEO, Paul Milton. “We learned a great deal during the pandemic about how to develop smarter patient-focused healthcare solutions that achieve better outcomes, help reduce hospital stays and make it more convenient for our patients. Expanding telehealth opportunities for seniors will go a long way toward improving their lives.”

“We feel strongly that all of the elements of our grant application will have a profound community impact and help better equip our City to manage current and future public health crises,” said Mayor McCarthy. “We want to thank our community partners for working together to put forth such a strong application.  Each project is shovel ready and can be completed within twelve months of receiving the CARES Act grant funding from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.”

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