Oneida, Canastota libraries join telehealth effort


NEW YORK — The Central New York Health Access Task Forces, the 2-1-1 service, county library systems, and community partners in that eight-county grouping are teaming up to offer wi-fi access at community sites across CNY.

This project, beginning on March 15, will kick-off with libraries and expand to local organizations to create additional telehealth access sites throughout the region.

CNY residents needing a telehealth visit with their doctor or therapy provider will be able to call 2-1-1 or visit StateWide’s website at to locate and find out what resources are available at their nearest telehealth access site.

“Libraries exist in almost every community, staffed by trained and helpful people,” said Sara Wall Bollinger, former president of NYS Association for Rural Health and member of the Madison County Health Access Task Force. “We thought libraries would be a great partner to be telehealth access sites in rural communities.”

Public Relations and Teen Activities Coordinator Beth Totten at the Canastota Public Library said people looking to make a telehealth visit are welcome, whether or not they have a laptop.

“It’s best if people call ahead to reserve a telehealth room just to be sure and if you don’t have a laptop, you can use one from us,” Totten said. “Or if you feel more comfortable, you can access our wifi from our parking lot.”

Totten said initiatives like this are important, especially to places like Madison County that are more rural and lacking in internet service. “I think it’s extremely important there be a place in the community where people can go to get help with their computers or the internet so they can access telemedicine,” she said. “It’s imperative libraries are able to offer this service and help the community.”

Oneida Public Library Director Michelle Stuart said people are still trying to keep their distance and exercise caution when going out and about, so initiatives like this help bring some peace of mind. The Oneida Library has laptops for use inside the library and mobile hotspots and Chromebooks available for use outside as well.

“This initiative is a great way for people to get their telehealth if they don’t have access at home, whether they come in for a private space or they stay out in their car or use our parking lot wi-fi,” she continued. “This gives people a way to meet with their healthcare providers in a safe, comfortable, and private way while out of the house.”

Library representatives ask that you call ahead to confirm a device is available to use.

These sites are not meant for sick visits, and it’s encouraged to always call a location before entering the building.

Residents must continue exercising safety-protocols to keep their community safe from COVID-19.

New sites will be frequently updated on StateWide’s website and 2-1-1’s database. If your organization is interested in becoming a telehealth access site contact CNY organizers Stefania Buta at, 518-719-5757 or Melissa Kinney at, 315-210-4900.


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