LONDON, ONT. -- It was at the start of April, just as London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) was navigating new COVID-19 pandemic protocols, when the president and CEO of the organization, Dr. Paul Woods started feeling unwell.

“On April second, I woke up not feeling well and by nine in the morning I started to feel hot and I thought, 'Is the house hot?' But it wasn’t, and that kind of started the whole thing,” says Woods.

With COVID-19 being a possibility, Woods went to straight to the emergency department.

“I was met outside and they put a mask on me and at that point I’d been tested for COVID because earlier in the day we didn’t know if I did or did not have it.”

It was determined however, that an underlying health issue he has, called diverticular disease, which affects the intestines and colon, was the problem.

“It’s interesting how quickly you turn from physician provider or administrator CEO, to sick person who is scared and doesn’t know what’s happening,” says Woods.

He was admitted to the hospital and received an IV antibiotic. After five days in hospital was sent home to recover.

Unfortunately Woods had to be readmitted several days later.

“I had another CAT scan which showed that I had abscesses in my pelvis and an obstructed bowel so it had clearly gotten worse.”

Woods underwent emergency surgery and spent nine more days in hospital. While there he says he got to talk to staff about concerns during the pandemic, much of it surrounding the fear of a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“I will reassure the public, but also will reassure our own people that securing a long-term supply chain of personal protective equipment is one of the biggest priorities we have.”

Woods resumed his position as president and CEO of LHSC on June 1. He says since his return he’s taken the time to thank the staff who cared for him as a patient.

“I wanted to return that personal connection and make them understand that me as a CEO, you know I have a big role, but I’m also a human being and I’m also a patient, and I’m very thankful for the great care that they delivered.”