Researchers from the University of British Columbia launched a podcast exploring the health issues faced by rural and remote communities across the province.

UBC’s Centre for Rural Health Research (CRHR) co-director, Dr. Jude Kornelsen, and research assistant and podcast host, Nicholas Lloyd-Kuzik, heard whisperings of what the communities they study throughout the province were doing to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so they created and distributed a survey to find out more.

“What we did hear from rural citizen patients is that they have plenty of information, they do not want more information about COVID, but they do want to hear about what other communities are doing and how they’re coping, and that would be of value to them,” said Korneksen.

So when the stories of community resilience and innovation in dealing with pandemic started rolling in, Kornelsen and Llyod-Kuzik thought it was a great opportunity to start a podcast.

“That was the origin of our series, Innovation from the Edges, which is the first series of episodes that are going to be focused on COVID-19,” said Kornelsen.

The podcast idea has been floating around the Centre for Rural Health and Research for a while, said Kornelsen and Lloyd-Kuzik. They thought it was a great way to distribute the knowledge gained by the centre to the public.

“I think that the CRHR podcast program as a whole will be grown into another pathway for us to share the knowledge we gather from partners in communities and also through researching literature and being involved in academia research in general, to share that in a more accessible format,” said podcast host, LLoyd-Kuzik.

He believes that podcasts are much more accessible and easier to digest than other forms of communication, which is why the format appealed to them.

The plan is to use the podcast to better connect isolated communities by keeping the focus on sharing the first hand experiences and stories of those living in rural or remote communities. Many in these communities have trouble accessing health care due to a lack of doctors, lengthy travel to larger centres for care, and cultural insensitivity for Indigenous people. 

LLyod-Kuzik hopes that this podcast will help those communities around the province connect with each other and the centre to help combat issues like these. He and Kornelsen plan to continue the podcast, producing five episode mini-series with various focuses.

“Our next scheduled mini-series is going to be … on rural citizen-patient partnerships and voices of engagement, which is a critical part of what we do,” said Lloyd-Kuzik. “So right now, if you look us up, it’s just COVID and will soon be engagement, but we plan to have that evolve and move around depending on where the priorities are at that time.”

Lloyd-Kuzik, Kornelsen and the rest of the CRHR team hope that more stories and voices will come forward so they can continue to make community level stories the focus of each episode. They encourage anyone living in rural or remote areas to contact them if they have any insight, or to listen to the podcast which is available now on all regular streaming services.