Mayor on Duty

Mayor do something, we can no longer get WSB TV out of Atlanta? Several folks have asked if the town can take action to restore WSB to Highlands since a cable provider recently removed WSB from their lineup. My first response is I can do nothing, it’s is a private business decision.

But, WSB news broadcasts are not necessarily gone from Highlands. They can be streamed on demand.  A streaming viewer can see the entire ABC network program carried by WSB through streaming Asheville’s WLOS. NBC, CBS and Fox programming can be streamed from stations in Greenville and Spartanburg.

How we access television is changing fast. Two months ago I recycled my metal dish and began streaming television. My wife was thrilled. I don’t know why, but she thought that dish looked bad in the only place we could get a signal, a small space in the front yard.

When I first began streaming the process was somewhat disconcerting. There were so many factors to deal with and many choices. The former satellite system had limited but expensive choices. Streaming provides many competing providers seeking my business, such as Sling, Hulu, USTV, Directv Now, and YouTube TV, to name only a few. I chose the provider that had all the local news channels, the major networks, the Atlanta Braves in HD, the SEC and ESPN channels.

So, what about WSB News? Using the app NewsOn: Local News Nationwide I can stream it on demand.

Television changes are somewhat similar to what Highlands/Cashiers faces with future healthcare access.  Healthcare is undergoing rapid changes, especially in rural and remote areas. Highlands and Cashiers are caught in the changes. One can’t live in a remote community as ours, and expect the direct healthcare access provided by metropolitan areas like Atlanta. We have been rather successful in bridging the isolated rural versus urban divided in many areas, but healthcare access is a challenge.

The digital divide facing isolated communities is something were are about to solve, but healthcare access is more complex. The problem invariably requires our shift in the way we view healthcare. Whether we like it or not, the old model of a full service, standalone hospital for this small community has gone away.  Like it or not we will have to be connected to a greater healthcare network.

I have been talking with numerous community leaders in recent weeks about the future of our hospital and the proposed merger. There are issues that will need to be addressed about our hospital campus as to how it fits into any merger acquisition. I am confident Highlands and Cashiers will continue to have access to quality healthcare, but just as there are changes in TV access, there will be changes in our healthcare access. Current trends suggest rural communities developing mini-hospitals/medical centers with a strong emergency center as the core. Changes actually began five years ago, and they continue.

By the way, I love streaming TV. I like it better than dealing with antennas, cables and satellite dishes. I have more control and have more choices.  Could healthcare be similar?

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