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Wrapping Up Season 4 of the Virtual Lecture Series

That’s a wrap folks.   

The Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (CERH) has wrapped up Season 4 of the ongoing virtual lecture series, spanning from September 2023 until June 2024. Season 4 included ten regular lectures and one bonus lecture taking place on Tuesdays monthly. The lecture series will continue starting in September 2024.  

There are seven big reflections on this latest season of lectures that the Gateway CERH is sharing with the audience and community members.  


Number 1: Rebrand of the Lecture Series

Gateway CERH rebranded the lecture series to seasons format and developed an updated webpage to reflect the ongoing commitment to developing an educational series. The lecture series started on February 2nd, 2021, and there have been thirty-six lectures to date. These include a range of timely discussions on Artificial Intelligence and Rural Health, Early Settlement Experience and Uncertain COVID 19 Messaging. All lectures are uploaded to Gateway CERH YouTube for anyone to view.  

Number 2: Certificates for the Winter Semester

The Winter Semester of the lecture series brought a snow fall of new viewers. The greatest number of lecture series certificates yet were distributed by Gateway CERH to attendees during the winter semester of the lecture series. You can earn a certificate by attending live for the full Fall, Winter or Spring Semester of the lecture series. There is a monthly newsletter developed to go out in the same month following the lecture. It has details on upcoming lectures, rural health blog posts and activities.  

The winter semester featured the following lectures: 

Number 3: Most Popular Lecture

Gateway CERH went international this year, featuring presenters from overseas in the United Kingdom. The most popular lecture of Season 4 was Episode 2: “Acute Care Centralisation – What Does the Evidence Really Tell Us?”  The lecture premiered live on October 3rd, 2023, featuring Dr. Louella Vaughn and Dr. John Browne. The lecture delved into a discussion on the implications of consolidating healthcare centres and resources on the healthcare workforce and rural populations.  

Season 4 Episode 2 Promotional Poster

A broad range of problems with "centralisation" were presented including the rising difficulties in accessing services for patients in rural and remote communities and healthcare workers choosing to leave or retire early instead of joining consolidated services, resulting in an increased demand on the remaining rural and remote services. Examples were featured from the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and Canada.  

The initial publication on the topic by speakers can be found here: 

Further discussion on this topic can be found in a podcast episode by Dr. Ken Milne on The Skeptics' Guide to Emergency Medicine: 


Number 4: Highest Attendance

The best-attended lecture was, “Enhancing Emergency Management in Rural Northern Ontario: Learning from COVID-19", on February 6, 2024, by Amanda Mongeon. Panelists for this lecture included members of the Red Cross, and Wendy Brunetta, a Northern Ontario Municipal Councilor. Starting with this lecture, Gateway CERH has invited the speaker to write a blog post concerning their lecture to inspire further conversation and advance knowledge on these subjects.  

Number 5: Substance Use

Katie Sparling, Opiate Counsellor & (at time of lecture) Gateway CERH Research Assistant

A theme prevalent in this season of lectures was rural substance use. The lectures on this topic included  local interventions and burgeoning research areas’ educational materials.  

The holiday season of January and December featured back-to-back lectures by Katie Sparling, Research Assistant at Gateway CERH and Opiate Counsellor at the CMHA: Huron-Perth on “Substance Use in Rural Landscapes: Navigating Challenges and Cultivating Solutions,” and Mike Beazely, Gateway CERH Research Chair on Rural Substance Use and Associate Professor at the School of Pharmacy, University of Waterloo on “Addressing Substance Use in Rural Areas”  

These lectures provided relevant and recent information on local community programs to promote wellness and about the facts of opioids, cannabis and psychedelics. 

Number 6: Student Opportunity

Season 4 of the Virtual Lecture Series began with Gateway CERH research assistant, Sage Milne, presenting on Gateway CERH’s project, “Cultivating Memories: A Community Gardening Project”. The Cultivating Memories project is one of Gateway CERH’s many active projects aimed at promoting the health and quality of life of rural residents through research, education and communication. Gateway CERH, under the auspice of S.H.A.R.P, hires summer students pursuing education in healthcare fields to provide them with research opportunities and recruit and retain a rural healthcare workforce.  

Number 7: Community Care + Bonus Lecture

Caring for others as they age was a core theme in April. April featured two lectures on this theme! Dr. Erin Donald and Dr. Meagan Nolan shared their knowledge of palliative care and hospices. They created an accompanying blog post that listed local resources and services for hospice and palliative care in Huron County. Under the same theme, Dr. Mary Fox discussed hospital-to-home transitional care interventions in rural areas. Dr. Fox offers an invitation for further involvement in shaping and developing strategies for older adults.  

Thank You to Sponsors

Thank our sponsors for their continued support. Without them the Virtual Lecture Series would not be possible. They make sure the lecture series can continue and remain free and accessible to residents in rural areas. These include: 

  • MicroAge Basics Goderich 

  • McGee Motors Goderich 

  • Libro Credit Union 

  • Lighthouse Money Management, Goderich 

  • MacEwan and Feagan Insurance Brokers Goderich 

  • Huron Telecommunications Co-operative Ltd (HuronTel) 

  • Zehrs Goderich 

  • CIBC Wealth Management 

  • And the Goderich Royal Canadian Legion Branch 109 

The Gateway CERH invites community members and businesses to donate to support the Virtual Lecture Series and the ongoing activities. If you are a business that wishes to sponsor the lecture series, please reach out to  


About the Team 

Meet the team behind the lecture series. The lecture series team for this season included Karissa Eckert, Gateway CERH Administrative and Marketing coordinator, Sage Milne, Research Assistant at Gateway CERH, Jay McFarlan, Gateway CERH Research Chair of Healthy and Active Living, and Michele Melady-Young, board member at Gateway CERH.  


About Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health  

Founded in 2008 in the community of Seaforth, ON, Gateway CERH is a not-for-profit rural health research organization run by a community-based volunteer board of directors. Gateway CERH's main mission is to better the health and quality of life of rural residents through research, education and communication. Learn more on the Gateway CERH website at: and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube 


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