Dr. Steven Kussin and his wife, Annie, were living in Manhattan in February when the coronavirus started trickling into the U.S. news. The retired physician quickly realized it should not be taken lightly.
“I’m was reading the literature, I saw the news in China – we knew this was going to be a pandemic,” he said. “We stocked up, and headed out.”
The Kussins closed the door on their urban home in February; they have not been back. Instead, they retreated to their second home in upstate New York. The home on Portaferry Lake is 40 miles from the Canadian border, and is one of only about a dozen houses in the rural area.
St. Lawrence County – where the cabin is located – has recorded 275 coronavirus cases, and four deaths, in stark contrast to the 239,000 cases and nearly 24,000 deaths in New York City.
“We’re here because there are no people here,” Kussin said. “We’re safer here than anywhere I can possibly imagine.
“My wife and I just took a walk in the woods; there’s nobody in sight. We’re very fortunate.”
A satellite connection
The Kussins may be physically isolated from others, but they’re not cut off from the world. The cabin is served by Viasat Internet, and the couple has relied on it heavily since February.
“I’m on at least 3-4 hours a day, reading medical journals, visiting medial and governmental sites, checking news in the morning and watching movies at night,” Kussin said.
Viasat also served another vital purpose. Though Kussin is retired from his gastroenterology practice, he has since become an author and patient advocate. His second book, “The Slippery Slope of Healthcare: Why Bad Things Happen to Healthy Patients and How to Avoid Them,” was published in late March. It coincided with the N.Y. governor’s decision to put the state in lockdown, derailing Kussin’s planned book tour.
Instead, he promoted his book virtually.
“Canceling a tour is a very sad thing for a book that took three years to write,” he said. “But I’ve done a lot of radio and television interviews from here. And for that, I need good Wi-Fi. With Viasat, I was able to do Zoom and connect to national outlets. I wouldn’t have been able to do radio or TV without it.”
The publicity appears to have been effective. Several months after its publication, the book has received favorable reviews and is selling well.
Kussin’s appreciation for Viasat goes beyond its business use.
“Having a reliable provider is now as much of a necessity to me as electricity,” he said. “Between internet and streaming video, there’s absolutely no way we would be happy here without having satellite internet.
“And that’s the case for so many people now who are homebound and out in the wilderness or the country. If you can’t connect by internet, and can’t stream videos for entertainment and information, you’re lost. Viasat fills a huge need.”
The Kussins previously used a competing satellite internet provider at their cabin, but said service was unreliable. Retailer Art Campbell, who operates Cellular Etc. in Carthage, NY, recommended the Kussins try Viasat.
“I wrote my book at the cabin using the Viasat connection,” he said. “The book has 1,000 references, all online. I couldn’t have done it without Viasat. It’s fast, reliable, with reasonably generous data; it’s a good service.”