gateway launches monthly lunch time lecture series
With social isolation being top of mind as COVID-19 restrictions continue to tighten, what better time to tune into Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health’s (Gateway) first Virtual Lecture Series? Beginning in February, Gateway will host a monthly series of free virtual learning webinars for adults of all ages.
Gateway is currently partnered with local academic institutions and hospitals to advance rural health; with 14 Board members, 11 rural health research Chairs and three Research Associates within its core network. The Lecture Series will promote the experience and knowledge of Gateway’s chairs and associates to provide a one-hour lunchtime presentation. The presentations will cover a variety of topics on “rural healthy communities”, aligning with many of Gateway’s core values. Following a half-hour presentation, a three-member panel (a Gateway director, a Gateway donor and a health practitioner) will engage in a discussion and answer questions from participants.
With continuing restrictions on social gatherings and events, many adults have been motivated to improve their skills with technology in order to remain connected with family and friends, learn new skills and broaden their technological capabilities. Lifelong learning is beneficial in many regards, particularly for seniors (e.g. self-esteem, sense of purpose). Virtual webinar formats allow learners and presenters to interact with one another. During lockdown periods people are all seeking ways to safely connect with others, reduce feelings of loneliness and stimulate their minds.
The Lecture Series concept fulfills two of the three mandates in Gateway's Mission statement: to research, educate and communicate. This Lecture Series will cultivate a culture of rural health knowledge and innovation, while virtually connecting communities to reduce social isolation.
The first one-hour lecture in the series will take place Tuesday, Feb. 2nd, starting at noon.
Gateway Chair of Rural Economic Development Dr. Ryan Gibson, from the University of Guelph, will kick off the series with a talk on “Philanthropy, Wealth and Prosperity”.
Going forward, lectures will continue on the first Tuesday of each month, starting at noon. Anyone interested in sponsoring or attending the event, is asked to please visit the Gateway website, gatewayruralhealth.ca, for more information.
Leslie Walker, registrar of this new Gateway College concept, urges everyone to, “Mark your calendars now and keep the dates and times open for an interesting and insightful series of lectures.”
Vaccines roll out to Huron Perth Long Term Care Homes
As of Jan. 14, residents at Spruce Lodge Long-Term Care Home in Stratford and residents at Seaforth Manor Long-Term Care Home and Retirement Community had received the COVID-19 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“Here at the Lodge, we received the call we have all been waiting for,” said Peter Bolland, administrator at Spruce Lodge Long-Term Care Home. “Residents and their families are so thankful and relieved, and staff can finally feel the weight of 2020 starting to lift. We haven’t seen so many smiles since this time last year.”
Huron Perth Public Health (HPPH) is working closely with partners to provide vaccine to all residents of Long-Term Care Homes and then Retirement Homes across Huron and Perth Counties over the next few weeks.
The province has a three-phase distribution plan and an ethical framework to ensure Ontario is prepared to receive, store and administer COVID-19 vaccines as vaccines continue to arrive over the next several months.
At this time, vaccine supply is very limited. Distribution focuses first on vulnerable populations that are at greatest risk of COVID-19 and severe illness and those who care for them.
In Huron-Perth, the Huron Perth Mass Vaccination Advisory Committee (HPMVAC) is creating a Huron Perth sequencing model as well as an administration and distribution plan based on the province’s distribution plan and ethical framework.
Currently, the focus is on long-term care homes and then retirement homes. Additional groups will be identified in the sequencing model; as vaccines become available those groups will be contacted. For the general public, this is not likely for a few months. HPPH asks the public to be patient and await further information – there is no vaccination waiting list set up for the general public.
“We are thrilled to have begun long-term care resident vaccinations in our community, but we are still in early days of COVID vaccination,” said Medical Officer of Health for Huron and Perth, Dr. Miriam Klassen “To build on vaccination efforts, it’s important that we continue to reduce the spread of COVID by avoiding non-essential trips outside of the home, practising physical distancing, wearing a face covering, washing hands frequently, and staying home when you are sick or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.”
stratford hospital declares outbreak on surgery unit
The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Surgery Unit at its Stratford General Hospital site on Jan. 15 after three cases of the virus were identified in staff members. No patients have acquired the virus while in hospital.
Outbreak status refers to two COVID-19 cases within a 14-day period, where both cases could reasonably have been acquired in the hospital.
“All outbreak control measures are in place and there has been no transmission to other patient care areas of the hospital,” said President and CEO, Andrew Williams. “We are taking an abundance of caution as we review this situation, are working closely with Huron Perth Public Health and will ensure staff, patients, family members/caregivers and individuals currently scheduled for surgery are kept apprised of all necessary information.”
Affected staff are currently self-isolating at home and will not return to work until their self-isolation period is complete and they are asymptomatic.
Family and caregiver presence on the Unit has been restricted. The only exception is for palliative patients. Care teams will regularly update families/caregivers and make them aware of opportunities for virtual connections.
The hospital remains open for all scheduled clinics, procedures and emergency visits and HPHA will continue to update the community, as more or changing information occurs.
Ten reasons to plant trees
Local landowners continue to plant tens of thousands of trees each year. By planting trees, they build on a long legacy of tree planting in Ausable and Bayfield River watersheds. In 2021, the 75th anniversary year for Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), the ABCA’s Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist, Ian Jean, offers a forestry perspective.
“Over the past 75 years, local landowners have planted literally millions of trees,” he said. The result has been a doubling of forest cover since the 1940s.”
Forest cover is still too low in some areas, however. Forest cover averages just 14 per cent according to the most recent Ausable Bayfield Watershed Report Card. Tree planting can help.
“Tree planting, and conserving and enhancing our forests, is essential for sustaining the productivity of our landscape, water quality and a healthy community,” said Jean. “We hear how trees contribute to cleaner air and water and help to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Perhaps less well known are the human health benefits that trees and forests provide.”
The ABCA’s Forestry and Land Stewardship Specialist offers these 10 reasons to plant trees:
1. Clean water: Trees planted along our waterways act as a buffer, filter runoff and improve water quality. Forest lands provide areas for rainfall to collect and infiltrate, replenishing groundwater and releasing water slowly to streams. This improves water quality by mitigating high flows and subsequent erosion and sedimentation that degrade water quality and habitat in our streams.
2. Clean air: The process of photosynthesis, by which trees absorb carbon dioxide in their leaves and release oxygen we breathe, also acts to filter out many harmful pollutants from the air. A correlation between more tree cover and a reduction in rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses has been demonstrated for urban and rural areas.
3. Soil conservation: Tree windbreaks reduce wind and water erosion of valuable topsoil. Trees planted along field edges can act as berms or dams during high rainfall events, slowing runoff and preventing topsoil erosion. Healthy soils underpin our region’s agricultural productivity, and tree planting can help to conserve this important resource.
4. Improved human health: Studies show a positive correlation between trees and human health. Simply looking at trees is beneficial: an element of nature as simple as a window view of trees has shown positive benefits for people in hospitals and nursing homes and other institutions. Even better is spending time literally ‘breathing in’ the forest. Recent studies show pinenes, a compound released by Pine trees and some other plants, has many health benefits. Pinenes are also responsible for the ‘pine tree smell,’ possibly explaining why so many people like the scent.
5. Birds, Bees and Butterflies: Bees use many trees. Maples and Willows are particularly important as an early spring source of nectar. Many butterfly larva feed on tree leaves during their caterpillar or larval stage. Cherry, for example, supports the larva of Tiger Swallowtail, Coral Hairstreak, Striped Hairstreak, Spring Azure, White Admiral, Red Spotted Purple, and Viceroy butterflies. Trees that produce berries or fruit are a food source for birds, as are the insects that live on trees. Oak trees, for example, support more than 500 species of insects. More than 90 per cent of birds feed their babies insects, with trees providing an important part of that supply.
6. Healthy wildlife populations: Due to their size, structure, and age trees provide nesting sites, dens and refuges for animals of all sizes. Trees, like all plants, also form the base of food chains. Again, among the most important are Oak trees. In eastern North America more than 100 animals including deer, rabbits, turkey, wood ducks, and even red fox, consume acorns.
7. Trees help mitigate and adapt to climate change: The dry weight of a tree is 50 per cent carbon, removed from the air during photosynthesis. Trees absorb and store carbon while living with even longer-term storage in forest soil organic matter. Wood construction products from sustainably managed forests, where trees continue to grow and sequester carbon, also provide long-term carbon storage.
8. Trees keep us warm in winter and cool in summer: Well-placed trees shelter buildings, yards and work areas from cold winter winds. In the summer, trees cool the air both by shading effect and transpiration. Transpiration involves trees pulling water from the soil to the leafy canopy. When water vapour is transpired from leaves into the atmosphere, the surrounding air is cooled down.
9. Strengthen family and community ties: Plant a tree or plant a forest to celebrate a birth, a milestone, or just the coming of another spring. Incorporate tree planting into your annual spring routine. It’s good exercise, it’s fun, and it benefits us all. Anyone unable to plant trees should consider donating to local tree planting programs.
10. Leave a lasting local legacy: A well-placed tree or grove of trees will span generations. Sugar Maple, Oaks, and White Pine may live for 300 years while Hemlock and White Cedar sometimes exceed 400 years of age. There is a saying that goes, “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit.”
The spring tree order form is available now at abca.ca.
Cost-share funding is available for many projects that provide broader benefits such as field windbreaks, stream buffers and reforestation. ABCA staff work to access funding from government, non-governmental organizations, and industry. Jean encourages interested landowners to give him a call at 519 235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610 to find out more.
“We are happy to help with project design and access funding for eligible projects,” he said.
Funding programs and amounts vary depending on the type of project and the project location.
ABCA thanks grant program funding partners including member municipalities, Huron County Clean Water Project, Forests Ontario, the Government of Canada’s Canada Nature Fund, and the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, along with community donors and other valued funding partners.
The Huron Perth Public Health website is updated regularly with confirmed case counts received.
“Our online case reporting is not a real-time tool but is meant to keep the community informed on trends we are seeing,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Miriam Klassen.
For the latest statistics on COVID-19 cases in Huron and Perth Counties please visit: www.hpph.ca
The COVID-19 pandemic is now in its tenth month and many local organizations have been working tirelessly to provide support and care to Huron residents during these troubling times.
Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health (Gateway) is helping cultivate resilience in Huron County through offering a series of free educational opportunities through their Connectedness Coaching Project to Huron residents this February. These educational opportunities are aimed at community members who are interested in learning more about peer support, coaching conversations, and system navigation, skills each individual can use to help strengthen their communities. Gateway is also inviting local social service agencies and groups to participate and attend these events to complement their invaluable work.
There is limited capacity for these educational events so anyone interested in attending is asked to please email Gateway’s Recruitment Lead at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, for more information please visit: www.gatewayruralhealth.ca/connectedness-coaching.html.
Pottery Tulip Garden
To help celebrate 25 years of Paint Ontario, the Pottery Program of the Grand Bend Youth Art Centre is constructing a pottery Spring Tulip Garden. The colorful exhibition of hand painted tulips will be on display at the Lambton County Museum during Paint Ontario beginning May 7th.
Organizers would like to thank the area schools planning to participate amidst these unprecedented, ever-changing times: Huron Central PS, Stephen Central PS, Grand Bend PS, Kinwood PS, Bosanquet Central PS, North Lambton Secondary School, as well as community members, and the 1st Bayfield Pathfinders. They would also like to offer a very special thank you to Mayor of Lambton Shores Bill Weber and his wife, Ginger, for their time and support.
These tulips will be available to purchase by donation with all proceeds going to support and purchase new equipment and materials for the Grand Bend Youth Art Centre pottery program.
Volunteers will be needed during April and May. High school students needing volunteer hours, are asked to contact Judy Gerber, coordinator, at 519 501-6356, if they have an interest in helping assemble, build or dismantle the tulip garden.
Details on the Pottery Program can be found at:gbartcentre.com/pottery-information-in-full/
For more than a decade, 211 Ontario has been helping individuals in Perth-Huron navigate the complex network of human services quickly and easily, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. During the current stay-at-home order, 211 is more important than ever to connect people with the help they need locally.
“We’ve been working hard to get the word out about 211,” said Director of Community Information for 211 Susan Faber. “We want to make sure the vulnerable and newly vulnerable know there are resources available to help to keep them supported and housed. Our goal is to have 211 become the source for information in Perth-Huron, both for service providers and the public.”
When someone reaches out to 211, a live, trained counselor will talk through their challenges and connect the individual with community services that can help. By providing a central source of information, 211 helps people quickly before they reach a crisis point. The program connects individuals experiencing poverty, mental health issues and domestic violence — often root causes of homelessness — with the right resources.
Work maintaining up-to-date local records is crucial to the continuing success of 211. When COVID-19 arrived in March, information on over 1,000 local programs and services in the 211 database was updated, providing a comprehensive and reliable reference for the community.
“Everyone needs a helping hand sometimes,” added Faber. “No matter what walk of life you’re from or what you’re dealing with; from isolation, to a mental health crisis, domestic abuse or economic stress and uncertainty due to COVID-19, 211 can help. Someone will help you 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year and guide you with compassion. All you have to do is pick up a phone and dial 2-1-1.”
Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) invites local schools to become champions for a healthy and clean watershed. There are grants for local schools to complete projects that: improve surface and groundwater quality, forest cover, and overall watershed health; or an educational school event or activity on one of these topics. The local conservation authority offers four grants of up to $500 each.
The 2020-2021 school year is the fourth year of the grant program. An application form and guidelines are available online at abca.ca. The deadline for applications is Monday, Feb. 1.
“We know schools want to improve their student outdoor learning spaces and we are excited to offer up to $500 to help local schools with watershed projects through our continued partnership with NextEra Energy Canada,” said Denise Iszczuk, Conservation educator with ABCA. “We have been impressed with the projects that have been completed by local schools and we look forward to reviewing applications which help to improve soil, water and living things in our watershed.”
Schools can apply for one of two categories: 1) Creating Awareness; and 2) Taking-Action.
In the past year, three schools, located in Parkhill, Mount Carmel and Hensall, were successful in the Taking-Action category
For videos of past school projects check out the ABCA YouTube Channel at this link: www.youtube.com/user/TheAusable
To learn more, or to apply, visit abca.ca.
back alley art
Central Huron and the Central Huron Business Improvement Area (BIA) invites everyone to take part in their “Back Alley Artist Extravaganza” - a fun and free community activity open to all Huron County residents.
The Back Alley Artist Extravaganza is open to all ages and abilities. Free plywood to paint on, in either 4’x 8’ or 4’x4’ sizes, will be given to anyone that wants to take part and participants can paint whatever they would like as there is no theme. From now until Jan. 22, there will be a sign-up form at the lumber desk at Langford Lumber in Clinton. Once registered Langford’s will supply the plywood and then people can take it home and create a masterpiece. There is lots of plywood, but it is available on a first come, first served basis.
Once their project is complete, deadline Apr. 1, participants are asked to contact Central Huron’s Community Improvement Coordinator, Angela Smith, by calling 519 476-5922 oe via email at email@example.com.
High school construction students will then add a 2’ x 4’ frame to the back for stability. The art pieces will be installed using stakes (like a billboard) and finished pieces will resemble Barn Quilts.
In the spring, completed projects will be installed in Clinton to create “The Back Alley Art Extravaganza”. This will brighten up areas of the downtown and create an Artists Alley where everyone can show off their talents.
“We have a local business, Miniature Masterpieces, which teaches painting lessons to all ages. They will offer interactive online painting classes to participants that want help to get started. Each week there will be another painting lesson offered online… a ‘Huron County Community Paint Night’,” said Smith.
The Back Alley Art Extravaganza is generously sponsored by Central Huron and Bruce Power.