Libertyville grad makes difference at LFH
Dr. Gordon Wood visits a patient at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital to assess her palliative care needs. | Submitted photo
NAME: Dr. Gordon Wood
HOMETOWN: Lake Bluff
BEST KNOWN AS: Director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Our only agenda is to understand them and their goals — what makes their life meaningful — and come up with a plan.”
Updated: November 7, 2012 11:10AM
LAKE FOREST — It was late at night in a San Francisco hospital about seven years ago when Dr. Gordon Wood decided palliative care was the specialty for him.
The night nurse called for Wood when the patient’s family was angry and upset.
“I sat with them and heard their concerns,” Wood recalled. “They were angry because of what was happening to their loved one. I left with them hugging me.”
Taking the time to listen made a difference to the family and to Wood, a 1994 Libertyville High School graduate.
“They just needed someone to vent at,” he said.
By the end of the night, Wood understood their perspective and they felt they had been heard.
“They came to some peace,” he said. “That’s when I realized…this feels very meaningful and important. It’s something that made a difference.”
Today Wood is the director of Palliative Medicine and Supportive Care at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital, where he leads the hospital’s partnership with Midwest Palliative CareCenter in Glenview.
“One of the misconceptions about us is we’re equivalent to hospice or end-of-life care,” he said.
Palliative care providers are called in to help patients and families better understand the illness and how to approach it.
“Our only agenda is to understand them and their goals, what makes their life meaningful and come up with a plan for care,” he said.
Dr. Michael Ankin, NLFH vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer, speaks highly of Wood. A patient he has treated for 20 years was admitted recently to the intensive care unit when Wood was called in. The patient spoke with Wood about issues she never shared with her family.
“It was remarkable for me to see how a skilled practitioner so rapidly engaged with a patient and her family,” Ankin said. “The family said the patient’s level of comfort provided by Dr. Wood and the care team was tremendous.”