"The best thing is coming to work every day and being around great people, but also feeling like I've accomplished something," says Gord Wood, Operations Manager, UHN-TR Lead for the Facilities Management-Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) Department. (Photo: UHN)

Throughout his 40-year career at Toronto Rehab, Gord Wood has worn many hats. From starting as a temporary building mechanic at the Cardiac Rehab centre to helping with the hospital's COVID-19 response, he says the best part of his job is that he's never stopped learning.

UHN News sat down to hear more about the projects Gord, Operations Manager, UHN-TR Lead for the Facilities Management-Planning, Redevelopment & Operations (FM-PRO) Department, holds close, the words of wisdom he shares, and why he loves coming to work each day.

Q: Let's go back to the beginning – where did it all start for you at Toronto Rehab?

A: "I started on Rumsey Road, building what is now the Cardiac Rehab site, as a building mechanic for a contractor. Initially, I was brought in as a substitute for a gentleman who was scheduled to be off for a few weeks. But he never came back, and I never left. In between then and now, I've had lots of opportunities for improvement. I went back to school to study courses in boiler operations, refrigeration, and engineering management through George Brown, Centennial and Seneca colleges, and eventually worked my way up to my current position in facility operations management."

Q: And what would you say has been a highlight for you during your time at Toronto Rehab?

A: "Helping build the cardiac rehab building, in response to an increase in patient need that Toronto Rehab was recognizing in the community, was definitely special for me. My team and I built a brand-new building, set up laboratories and cardiac testing labs, and built an indoor and outdoor track, which was a big accomplishment for me, especially looking at the impact the building has on the community now."

Q: When you think of healthcare, "facilities and operations" don't immediately jump to mind. What would surprise patients and families to know about the role your team plays in the hospital?

A: "The infection prevention and control (IPAC) role our team has played in UHN's COVID response has been a huge accomplishment for us. COVID affects everything in the hospital's entire facility, from the air filtration to the amount of air pressure we allow in. All of this came under scrutiny during the pandemic. And luckily, my team and I were able to rise to the occasion and do what's best for the safety of patients and staff. It's been a challenging two years, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."

Q: After so many years of experience, what words of wisdom can you share?

"My philosophy in life is that whatever you put out into the world, you get back. This applies to your job and your personal life. If you're negative, then you'll get back negativity. But if you're compassionate, kind, friendly, all that kind of stuff, it comes back to you. Even when I'm around negative people, I try to be pleasant and polite to them. And eventually, they change, and they turn out to be nice, too. So, for me, words of wisdom would be to 'always be kind.'"

Q: What is your favourite thing about working at Toronto Rehab?

A: "The best thing is coming to work every day and being around great people, but also feeling like I've accomplished something. Since day one, I've never stopped learning, I've never stagnated in one position or at one site. It's been a good challenge for me, which I need. I have a great management team and my superiors always let me figure things out on my own, but if I ever need help, they're there for me. I couldn't come to work every day for all these years if I couldn't laugh and have a good time."


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