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Building Roads to Health Care for All: Where Infrastructure and Medicine Meet

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Kevin Cho Tipton

Since 2019, I have felt the pain of over 200 families as they mourned the loss of a loved one – most of them taken long before their time.  For many, they faced lifetimes of poverty that often made it impossible for them to ever see a doctor.  COVID-19 only made that cruel reality worse as workers lost their jobs, their insurance, and their access to medical care.

Despite these tragedies, this prolonged crisis has forced us – doctors, nurses, and therapists – to revolutionize how we offer care to those who need it most.  For many, this has meant bringing medicine into our patients’ homes through telehealth and virtual visits.  Initially, families were forced to use these services at a rate nearly 80-times higher than before.  Today, however, our patients choose to use them because we have learned that they provide quality care and save families money.

For instance, when a parent needs to bring in their sick child, they must take time off work, and fight traffic to find a clinic.  Through telehealth, we can come right to their kitchen table in an instant.  Now, although this system won’t replace in-person visits for every illness, it can still save families time, money, gas, and stress.

However, to finally give everyone the health care they deserve, we must first fix the systems that have let us down since long before COVID-19.  That’s where the infrastructure bill that recently passed in Washington, D.C. is vital.

Today, 14 percent of rural Floridians lack access to broadband internet service in their homes.  This makes it nearly impossible for them to reach telehealth services in areas already underserved by in-person clinics.  Though virtual visits could improve their access to health care, if they can’t get on the internet, they’re still stuck at square one.  What’s worse, even though nearly all of Miami-Dade has access to broadband, more than 40% of families earning less than $30,000 can’t realistically afford internet service.

Luckily, the recently passed infrastructure bill includes two programs that – if implemented fairly – will help fix these problems.  The first provides over $40 billion to expand broadband into more neighborhoods.  The second dedicates $14.5 billion to help families pay for internet service through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Just in our state, the ACP will give 6.5 million Floridians – 30% of all households – up to $30 a month to pay for home internet service.  For those who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford health insurance, that $30 would be enough for many to purchase a plan at Healthcare.gov.  As household budgets continue to be squeezed by the rising costs of rent and health care, this program directly benefits those who need help the most.

While this bill helps us all save time and gas by fixing our roads and improving the MetroRail, it’s time to harness the opportunities of this moment through innovation.  We must find new ways to support families by making health care physically, virtually, and financially accessible to all, but we can’t wait for the federal government.  It’s time for us to step up and take the lead.

Kevin Cho Tipton is a critical nurse practitioner from Miami and a captain in the United States Air Force assigned to the Florida National Guard.


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Florida first lady finishes chemotherapy for breast cancer

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BOWLING GREEN, Fla. (AP) — Florida first lady Casey DeSantis has completed her final chemotherapy treatment after a breast cancer diagnosis, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday.

The first lady’s diagnosis was made public in October. The governor said she finished the chemotherapy treatments Wednesday, calling it a “big milestone.”

“She’s doing well and we look forward to having good news over the ensuing weeks and months,” the Republican governor said at a news conference in Bowling Green.

Casey DeSantis, 41, has played an active role in her husband’s administration, often appearing alongside the governor at official events. The couple has three children.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Alec Baldwin sued for defamation by family of slain Marine

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The widow and two sisters of a U.S. Marine killed in Afghanistan are suing Alec Baldwin, alleging the actor exposed them to a flood of social media hatred by claiming on Instagram that one sister was an “insurrectionist” for attending former President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C., rally on Jan. 6 last year.

The sister, Roice McCollum, protested peacefully and legally; was not among those who stormed the U.S. Capitol that day and, after being interviewed by the FBI, “was never detained, arrested, accused of or charged with any crime,” according to the lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne.

The lawsuit comes as Baldwin is immersed in an ongoing investigation into the death of a cinematographer and the wounding of a director last fall after a prop gun the actor was holding on a movie set went off.

Last year, Baldwin sent McCollum a $5,000 check to help the widow of her brother Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum of Jackson, who was among 13 U.S. soldiers killed in a suicide bombing Aug. 26 at the Kabul airport, according to the lawsuit.

On Jan. 3 of this year, the lawsuit says, the actor privately messaged Roice McCollum on Instagram soon after she posted an almost year-old photo of the Trump rally, asking if she was the same woman who’d taken his donation. The suit says McCollum confirmed she was at the protest and told Baldwin, “Protesting is perfectly legal.”

The suit says Baldwin responded by remarking that “her activities resulted in the unlawful destruction of government property, the death of a law enforcement officer, an assault on the certification of the presidential election,” and told McCollum that he’d reposted the photo to his 2.4 million Instagram followers.

“Good luck,” Baldwin wrote, according to the lawsuit.

“Baldwin plainly ignored Roice’s denial of rioting and the assertion that she was cleared by the FBI for participating in any of the conduct Baldwin chose to falsely attribute to her via his massive following,” the lawsuit reads.

Representatives for Baldwin didn’t immediately return email and phone messages Wednesday. FBI officials in Denver didn’t return email messages Wednesday asking if the lawsuit’s assertions about Roice McCollum are true. Federal court records reviewed by The Associated Press did not show any criminal charges against her.

After Baldwin shared the photo of the Jan. 6 protest on social media, Roice McCollum got “hundreds upon hundreds of hateful messages,” including one telling her to “get raped and die” and that her brother “got what he deserved,” according to the lawsuit.

In a post under his Instagram account, #alecbaldwininsta, Baldwin called that message “abhorrent,” and told Roice McCollum, “There are hateful things posted toward you that are wrong,” according to computer screenshots filed in the case.

The lawsuit says Baldwin didn’t do anything to remedy the situation, however. And by sharing the photo, he “lit the match and blew on the fire,” resulting in the hateful messages and death threats not only against Roice McCollum but also against Rylee McCollum’s other sister, Cheyenne McCollum, and widow, Jiennah McCollum, it says.

The lawsuit, first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune, alleges invasion of privacy, defamation, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks $25 million in damages.

Jiennah McCollum gave birth to her late husband’s daughter in September. Online fundraisers have raised around $1 million for the widow and child.

On Friday, Baldwin surrendered his cellphone to authorities investigating a fatal shooting on a film set in New Mexico last fall. Baldwin’s prop revolver discharged a live round during a rehearsal, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza, according to authorities.

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Driver transported after crashing into fence in Pembroke Pines

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PEMBROKE PINES, FLA. (WSVN) – A woman has been transported to the hospital after crashing her vehicle into a fence in Pembroke Pines.

7SkyForce hovered over the scene where rescue crews could be seen carrying the woman away from the side of the road on a stretcher.

The crash happened along the westbound lanes of Pines Boulevard near 68th Avenue, early Thursday morning.

The vehicle the woman was driving crashed into a nearby neighbor’s yard. There was apparently another vehicle involved in the crash.

The victim’s condition remains unknown but police said initial reports showed her injuries were not serious.

7News spoke with homeowner Ismail Samara, whose fence was destroyed. He said his son woke him up after hearing a loud crashing sound at around 5:45 a.m.

“It was like a really loud ‘Boom,’ like you know when you hear lightning strike?” said the homeowner’s son, Yousef Samara. “It was louder than that.”

At around 6 a.m., his neighbor then called to see if he knew about the damage to his fence.

“He told me, ‘You don’t have any fence,’” said Ismail.

“From my understanding, I think the car that hit my house, she hit that black car then she ran into my fence and my neighbor’s fence and she damaged both of them,” he said. “Luckily nothing [else] happened because the concrete stopped her from going further.”

Ismail said he was shocked but thankful his house wasn’t hit.

“It’s amazing. People driving fast on this street and we always hear it when we’re inside. They go over 60 miles [per hour] and sometimes they race on this street,” he said.

Now, he’s left to pick up the mess left behind.

“I have kids and I cannot leave the house like this,” he said.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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