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Leading and Innovating on Rural Health: Gateway CERH Introduces a New Approach for 2024

On January 25th, 2024, Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) met to strategize and innovate for the upcoming year on how we approach our mission, to better the health and wellbeing of rural residents through research, education and communication, for the year 2024. The strategic planning meeting invited opportunities for discussion and reflection from this past year. 



Background 

Gateway CERH began in 2008 in Seaforth as an idea that rural residents have unique opportunities and challenges for both their health and healthcare access. There is limited research done with a rural focus. Over the past 15 years, as a community-driven effort, Gateway CERH has established itself as an organization able to promote rural health through a variety of means anywhere from community projects to published data. To Gateway CERH’s knowledge, it is the only rural health research centre in Canada governed by community-based volunteers. 


The Gateway CERH team members are from a wide range of places. Between the research chairs and board members at the organization, there are professors from a range of disciplines from the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, and University of Western Ontario's School of Medicine and Dentistry. The board members include a complement of practitioners from different backgrounds including nurses, retired pharmacists, retired educators and financial experts. 


Innovating in 2023 

In 2023, Gateway CERH is proud that there were so many events and projects taking place that you must keep up to date. (Did YOU know that Gateway CERH has a monthly newsletter) The umbrella of projects that are currently operating are far reaching. These umbrellas of projects include community development, healthcare, agriculture and education. 


Some notable events and projects from this past year include: 



GREAT Local Food Project 

Gateway CERH interviewed local producers (eg. Farmers), surveyed residents and talked with organizations to discover the local food area of Huron County. To learn all about this project and see the  final report, click here: https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/current-projects


Cultivating Memories 

Gateway CERH added raised, accessible garden beds to long-term care facilities in Huron County.  This project supported seniors and facilitated community building. To learn more about this project, https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/cultivating-memories-event



SHED Talks 

Concerned about the local farmers in Huron and Perth Counties? Gateway CERH formed connections between farmers with SHED Talks to promote their wellbeing and provide opportunities to build support networks. Learn more here:  


Mental Health First Aid 

COVID 19 had an impact on the community with over 90% of the business in Huron and Perth counties affected including mental health of both employers and their workers. Gateway CERH has trained workers preparing a mental health first aid training for rural residents to learn how to support people in their community and workplace. Learn more here: https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/mentalhealthfirstaid


The Discovery Healthcare Camp 

A summer camp experience to inspire and excite high school students about healthcare. This camp featured presentations by local healthcare professionals, workshops on how to cast, suture and triage, and fun games and activities. Explore and sign up here to register for the upcoming Camp: https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/discovery-healthcare-camp


Virtual Lecture Series 

Educate yourself on topics ranging from substance use to artificial intelligence and more. On the first Tuesday of every month, join via ZOOM from 12 - 1 PM to watch an expert present. Learn all about rural health in our community: https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/lectureseries


The Remarkable Healthcare Worker Recognition Event 

In September, Gateway CERH celebrated healthcare workers within the community. Kind words and gifts were presented to these extraordinary heroes. Learn more: https://www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/post/celebrating-remarkable-healthcare-workers-volunteers-in-our-community


Student Mentorship 

As part of its efforts, Gateway CERH employs students to give them practical experience and work as a way for them to get experience with healthcare in their community. This past year there were eight students employed. 


“Working at Gateway [CERH] has been a fantastic experience. You learn an awful lot in a lot of different areas, make community connections. I have been able to write a research report, submit grants, and present a lecture.  There is also great mentorship here, I get to meet professors from program areas that I would not have been able to know otherwise.” Sage, Research Assistant

Looking to the Future 

Some of the important strategies are the development of new research opportunities that directly respond to interests and needs within our rural communities. This upcoming year Gateway CERH is launching projects, such as BRAVE-F, -  stayed tuned for more on this project! There are some new partnerships in progress and new incoming students.


Stay up-to-date with Gateway CERH and everything through the monthly newsletter and by checking the news and blog.


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