KANSAS CITY, MO — High speed and easy internet access can be hard to come by when it comes to living in a rural area, and it’s something Jessica Gillespie and her family struggle with.
“They have to be really careful about how they use what little internet we have from our hot spot because we don’t have any other access to internet other than just our cell phones,” Jessica Gillespie, a mom living in Odessa, Missouri, said.
However, Gillipsie's issues with high speed internet might not be around much longer due to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed Friday.
$100 million of that money is coming straight to Missouri and will be used to expand broadband and internet access, something Gillipsie's family juggles with when it comes to her kids and their homework.
“We have to be really careful like, 'Oh I have an assignment to do,'" Gillipsie said. "So I’m like, 'We can use my phones hotspot to run your computer because you have already used all of the hotspot data for the month.'"
During the pandemic, Gillespie told KSHB 41 News that the lack of internet access in her home made remote learning hard for her kids.
“It was really difficult with COVID when they were out of school, you know, in quarantine and that sort of thing," Gillipsie said. "The school did provide us a hotspot as well, so we were not only able to use our own but also the one from the school and that was helpful so that did kind of get them through."
On the other hand, high speed internet is as important for education as it is for health care.
During the pandemic virtual means were used in order to communicate but, not everyone had access to it.
“It’s important that hospitals can connect with the communities they serve," Dave Dillon, a spokesperson for the Missouri Hospital Association said. "That means that individuals that need to seek care in an inpatient [or an] out patient environment, need to be able to have the capacity to be involved in the telehealth service.”
Dillon reflected on how offering healthcare services virtually may soon begin to play a more prominent role in the field.
“What we are going to see is healthcare adapting, but expanding those types of services where everything is feasible," Dillon said. "In-person visits are not going to be eliminated and were not doing surgeries over the internet but, certainly we can do an extraordinary amount that we could not do otherwise [until] broadband becomes available to more citizens.”
Citizens including seniors and those with mental health issues can benefit tremendously from virtual visits.
“Behavioral health will benefit from this because in many cases, that is checking up on magazine medications or it's talk therapy which you can do remotely and behavioral health is absolutely in crisis in the state," Dillon said. “Seniors who are in many cases over represented in rural areas and they are going to need healthcare and many of them are wanting to age in place rather than going to a nursing facility [or] rather than living in a different town.”
Nonetheless, high speed internet will make it easier for people across the state and the country to better connect to the world around them.
"I’m really excited for high speed internet, even if we have to endure a little more costs to get access to as much internet as they would like to use, that’s how they access the world beyond just going to school everyday,” Gillespie said.