JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Mississippi has one of the lowest health rankings in the United States. A recent case study group is working to bring actionable change to reverse that narrative.

The Southern Rural Black Women’s Institute, along with other partners, studied how access to broadband internet and telehealth would significantly benefit rural areas of the state.

With several rural hospitals at risk of closing, telehealth is a cost effective way for patients to meet with their doctors.

“Throughout the long distances, they have to go from rural communities to get health care. The telehealth care is critical, but having, you know, a network of internet services that are strong and reliable and that these families can afford is critical to them being able to be healthy, to thrive,” said Oleta Garret Fitzgerald, State Lead for the Southern Rural Black Women’s Institute.

Mississippi released its five-year plan for the Broad Equity and Access Deployment Plan, which would use federal grants to bring high-speed, affordable broadband internet to the state’s unserved and underserved communities.