Cleveland Clinic helps bring affordable broadband to local neighborhood

The pandemic has shown the crucial role Internet access plays for telehealth and for the overall health and wellbeing of a population, says CEO Tom Mihaljevic.
By Bill Siwicki
02:44 PM
Cleveland Clinic broadband Internet

Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, DigitalC, TransDigm Group and the Lubrizol Foundation have come together to help provide affordable high-speed internet to residents of the Fairfax neighborhood in Cleveland. Installation should be complete for Fairfax residents by the second quarter of 2021.


The effort aims to help impact disparities in Internet coverage in the local community, which can affect access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. According to 2019 Census Bureau data, Cleveland is the worst-connected large city, with nearly 50,000 households not having reliable broadband.

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Especially during a global pandemic, access to the Internet affects a person’s ability to search and apply for jobs, use healthcare and telehealth services, fully participate in their education, and virtually connect with friends, family and colleagues.

Broadband for the households covered in this program will be provided by EmpowerCLE, a wireless Internet service provider founded by and operating within DigitalC. DigitalC is a nonprofit organization focused on improving Cleveland’s digital equity and providing residents with an affordable, high-speed Internet connection.

EmpowerCLE has installed equipment on the rooftops of two Cleveland Clinic main campus buildings in order to expand its coverage in the Fairfax community. EmpowerCLE brand ambassadors and technicians will visit local households to offer the connection and install the necessary equipment to begin service.

While DigitalC and EmpowerCLE provide affordable Internet services, in order to further lower the cost for Fairfax residents Cleveland Clinic has brought together additional partners with an interest in connecting underserved areas. TransDigm and The Lubrizol Foundation have agreed to contribute significant funds to further reduce the monthly subscription fee and help subsidize the cost of equipment.


In addition to working with DigitalC, earlier this year, Cleveland Clinic signed on to the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, which advocates bringing high-speed Internet to rural and under-connected areas.

Connecting underserved areas with reliable high-speed Internet is one way Cleveland Clinic aims to positively impact social determinants of health in communities. Social determinants of health are factors such as food security, housing, infant mortality, chronic diseases, education quality and access, and economic opportunity that affect a person’s health and wellbeing.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, medical care is estimated to account for only 20% of a person’s health. Social determinants of health can make up the other 80%.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has further illuminated the crucial role Internet access plays in the overall health and wellbeing of a population, and it is critical that we work to overcome digital inequities,” said Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic.

“Social determinants of health lay the foundation of a person’s overall health and have a lifelong impact on their health outcomes,” said Dr. Adam Myers, director of Cleveland Clinic Community Care. “By identifying areas we can help, such as providing broadband connection, and engaging with like-minded partners, we can make a difference in creating a better, healthier community for everyone.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
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