Digital connectivity and access to healthcare services shouldn’t just be available to people of a certain age, economic status, or location.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always true in Eastern Kentucky.
Many rural, low-income senior residents of our region still live without a reliable internet connection — or any internet connection at all. Because of this, some of our most vulnerable don’t have access to life-saving telehealth services.
The Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) and SOAR are working to change that through a partnership with global technology powerhouse SpaceX.
In March 2022, the partnership launched the first Starlink pilot project in our region. Thirty households in rural Bell County — and 65 total individuals in those homes — received high-speed internet via Starlink satellite.
Because of the pilot program’s 95% satisfaction rating, KDPH and SOAR decided to launch a second Starlink program in Eastern Kentucky.
The new program will target residents of rural Martin County.
Goals of the Starlink Program in Eastern Kentucky
KDPH and SOAR are bullish about giving those who are most likely to need healthcare access to telehealth services via a high-speed internet connection.
The Starlink program has proven to be a successful answer to this dilemma in Eastern Kentucky.
With the help of Kentucky Homeplace, 100% recipients of the Starlink pilot program in Bell County are currently using their new internet connections to access telehealth services, education services, or both.
Fifty-four percent have confirmed they’re primarily using it to access telehealth services.
The goals of the second Starlink program in Eastern Kentucky will remain the same as the first:
- Provide a reliable high-speed internet connection to the underserved. that doesn’t break the bank.
- Increase telehealth services access to Kentucky’s most health-vulnerable.
- Better prepare communities for any potential new health outbreaks like a pandemic.
Not all residents of Martin County qualify for Starlink high-speed internet. They’ll have to meet specific criteria of the program in order to be eligible for this unique program.
How It Works
You must live in a 10-mile radius of the Meathouse Creek area of Martin County, KY., in order to apply to be a participant in the Starlink program.
You must also qualify as a low-income senior on Medicaid who’s interested in telehealth services.
You’ll have to confirm you don’t have internet connectivity, have limited or poor connectivity, or currently use a regional internet satellite service.
KDPH and SOAR will choose 30 households to receive Starlink internet access by December 1, 2022.
These households will receive a Starlink dish and 12 months of complementary service. After the service period ends, recipients will have the option of keeping the dish and service for $110 per month.
They’ll also have the option of declining service if they want to.
Those who qualify can apply for the program on the SOAR website. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call SOAR at (606)766-1160 for more information.
Connecting Eastern Kentucky to Health
Major parts of SOAR’s mission and vision are to increase connectivity and foster healthy communities in Eastern Kentucky.
Our partnership with KDPH and SpaceX take us one step closer to meeting those goals.
We’ll be able to provide critical telehealth access to some of the most medically vulnerable in Eastern Kentucky. And we’ll help bring connectivity to the hardest to reach, and under-connected in our region.
Starlink reaches areas that are challenging for traditional providers. With the Starlink program providing connectivity to these niche, more remote communities, our local providers can better allocate their limited resources.
With traditional services providing widespread service, and Starlink providing niche internet service, we’ll be better positioned to bring high-speed internet to every household in Eastern Kentucky — together.
Because that’s what everyone deserves — no matter their age, income, or location.
If you or someone you know qualifies for the Starlink project in Martin County, apply via the form on our website. You can also email email@example.com or call SOAR (606)766-1160 for more information.