Article provided by Michael Nachef, Vice President of Government Relations, Lee Health
Learn more at: https://www.leehealth.org/
Hurricane Ian made landfall, devastating Southwest Florida on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, leaving thousands disconnected due to no internet. SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk responded by providing the company’s satellite internet service, Starlink, to help in the affected areas of Southwest Florida. Lee Health, as the largest employer in Lee County and with deep connections to our community was encouraged to request Starlink devices from the state of Florida. Lee Health was granted 35 devices, which the system deployed to support internet connectivity for our staff, patients, and areas in our community identified as having significant need.
The Starlink devices were very important to the operations of the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) as internet connectivity required boosting to support the additional medical resources. The DMATS were set up at the hospitals to supplement the hospitals’ emergency departments by providing emergency and urgent care. Once the DMATs were demobilized, those Starlink devices were re-deployed throughout the community where connectivity was non-existent to bring high-speed internet to our employees, patients and neighbors.
The internet is imperative for people, especially following a catastrophic storm, for submitting insurance claims, checking emails, running payroll for local businesses, connecting with and supporting others and accessing important services, like Lee Health’s Telehealth (which was provided free of charge following Hurricane Ian).
Thank you to Mr. Elon Musk for the donation of the starlink devices and Governor Ron DeSantis, for trusting Lee Health to assist in implementing this mission for SWFL. We worked with many elected officials and community partners to make the most impact possible with this resource. We are proud to have deployed Starlink devices throughout Lee County, including our barrier islands like Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel and Pine Islands, and bringing our Southwest Florida community back online!