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Laura Hough is the Manager of Energy & Sustainability in Plant Operations and Maintenance. A mechanical engineer by training, Laura was one of only six women in her graduating class of 90 students at the University of Waterloo. While doing a co-op for an Alberta oil company, she saw the documentary An Inconvenient Truth and her passion for environmental sustainability was ignited.

I remember thinking, ’How can anyone not be doing anything about this?’ I brought the film in to show, and no one cared. I knew right then I was in the wrong field.  

Once I had that epiphany, I started focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability. It just made sense. It’s about reducing impact on the environment to be able to keep doing things indefinitely, so that our kids and future generations get the same benefits as us.

I was drawn to Sunnybrook for its reputation as one of Canada’s Greenest Employers (for five years in a row).

Energy is a big need for us as a health-care organization – we depend on it. There’s plenty of equipment and critical areas need good ventilation, so there’s more motivation to be green.  And it all connects back to good health. By reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases, there are fewer health problems. In addition, saving energy saves costs.  

I’m fairly new to this role. I’ll be working with various areas of the hospital – Plant Operations, Facilities Planning,  Environmental Services, Parking & Transportation, and Purchasing , to name a few – to help identify and manage energy saving strategies, and opportunities to incorporate green.

I had a high school teacher who once said: ‘If you’re smart enough, you should be a doctor,’ but I can’t stand blood. It’s interesting that I’m now in this industry, not as a health-care worker, but at the end of day, I am helping people. – As told to Nadia Radovini


Elizabeth (Liz) Donaldson-James is section leader of the Ambulatory and Diagnostic Care Unit’s Colonoscopy/Endoscopy Clinic, and herself a colon cancer survivor. She began part-time at Sunnybrook in 1985 while studying at York University. Her health administration career spans 28 years, including 10 years working in intensive care. This November marks her 12th year in colonoscopy/endoscopy.

I’m living proof you can work your way through health challenges, but only with the support of others.

The care I received here when I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010 and with my subsequent stroke –
that journey made me prouder and even more connected to the place I call work. I experienced first-hand the tremendous dedication and expertise of our care teams and the reassurance that everything was going to be okay.

To predict the outcome … now that would be powerful. I help patients do the next best thing.

Sometimes it’s the little things that mean a lot – a caring word, a warm smile. And I’m straight up with them. I tell them, ‘You’re in the right place and you’re in good hands.’

Having been there myself, I speak from the heart. I tell patients: it’s good to know someone’s always got your back. – As told to Natalie Chung-Sayers


Gary Siu, a physiotherapist at Sunnybrook’s St. John’s Rehab, has treated inpatients and outpatients in neurology, orthopedics and trauma. In 2008, he was the first physiotherapist to visit the district of Kpandai in Northern Ghana, where he provided treatment and education to villagers who live with the effects of disease and disability. His mission continued in 2011 and he plans to return again.

Every day, I get to celebrate victories. Building the strength to sit up, stand and then walk; gaining the energy to do household chores; enjoying leisure activities; going to work in the morning. These are tasks many of us take for granted. But to the patients I see every day, these are no small feats.

Our patients have gone through lifechanging illnesses and injuries. Many are unable to participate in the activities that were once easy, necessary or meaningful. What I get to do at St. John’s Rehab stretches beyond providing the clinical functions of physiotherapy. I treat people, not just their medical conditions.

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