Dr. Paul Woods’ patient experience: A personal health-care emergency amidst pandemic response

Dr. Paul Woods

July 28, 2020

As President and CEO of London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC), Dr. Paul Woods recognizes and appreciates the skilled and compassionate care provided by the people he works alongside every day; but he never envisioned that he would be a recipient of that care— especially in the midst of both leading the organization and contributing to the regional response of a global pandemic. 

“I am tremendously grateful that LHSC had the expertise to continue to provide safe essential health services, recognizing that many in our community who did not have COVID-19 would still have significant care needs in the midst of this public health emergency,” says Dr. Woods. “I just certainly never imagined that would include me.”

In late March, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was increasing in scope within the community, Dr. Woods says he began to experience severe symptoms that were an exacerbation of a pre-existing medical condition. Shortly after, his journey as a patient at LHSC began where many do in our community, the Emergency Department (ED). After a brief stay in hospital, he was discharged following an improvement in his symptoms. Dr. Woods’ health began to decline and he was re-admitted to hospital where it was soon determined that he would require surgery that fell within the provincial direction of urgent and emergent care and services.

Under this direction, LHSC continued to perform some procedures even as COVID-19 cases were increasing in London, reaching a peak of 37 inpatients near the end of April, with protocols in place to protect staff, physicians, and patients including screening, visitor restrictions and enhanced personal protective equipment. Dr. Woods says he was and remains confident in the safety of care being provided to all patients throughout the pandemic.  

Following his inpatient post-surgical stay and then several weeks of at-home recovery, Dr. Woods resumed his full-time duties as President and CEO of LHSC on June 1. 

“While my recent medical experience included many moments of profound vulnerability, I’ve come to appreciate the opportunity it provided for me to better understand first-hand what our patients go through when they arrive at our doors,” says Dr. Woods. “It was a strangely overwhelming experience to be on the receiving end of care from my colleagues, but it has strengthened my belief that when you are sick, scared, and vulnerable, there is no better place to receive care than at LHSC."

Since his return to the organization, Dr. Woods has taken several opportunities to thank and acknowledge all those who cared for him while he was a patient, as well as all staff and physicians who have continued to provide safe, high-quality and compassionate care to all patients throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I will forever be grateful for the tremendous expertise and outstanding compassion provided by staff and physicians at LHSC every day,” says Dr. Woods. “I want to express my profound appreciation to all those who managed to help turn a very personally frightening time into a positive experience. Each and every individual at LHSC has a tremendous collective impact on the patient journey and I will forever be grateful to those who played a role in mine.”