People of KHSC: Bill Gourdier

News / General

People of KHSC celebrates individuals across KHSC who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other

“I was always taught that when you’re not enjoying your job anymore, then it’s time to get out but now is not the time for me.  I still have lots left to do.”

Over the last 18 months Bill Gourdier, food and catering manager for the Brockview Café at the Hotel Dieu Hospital site of Kingston Health Sciences Centre, could easily have stopped enjoying his work thanks to COVID-19. The virus forced him to lay off staff, drastically reduce café seating and lose cherished customers.

But the Café veteran has clocked enough time in the food services industry to weather this storm. He started in the business at age 15 and had 32 years of managing or co-owning restaurants under his belt before bringing his food services expertise to the Brockview Café 14 years ago.

“I wanted a change of pace and regular hours,” he says. “The Café setting is scaled down but you still have day-to-day challenges and stresses that come with running any food outlet.  That said, I’ve never faced anything like the last year and a half.  It’s hard enough to make money in this industry but harder still when your seating is reduced by 80 per cent.”

Supported by a small but mighty team

He credits a small but mighty “outfront” team with keeping the Café on an even keel, saying that they have “pushed through even with fewer hours—and not one of them has missed a single shift over the last 18 months.”  Thanks to their hard work, too, the Café has been told by Public Health inspectors that it has gone above and beyond in terms of infection prevention and control during the pandemic.

While Bill looks forward to the day when patients, families and downtown regulars—from the post office and nearby retail stores—can flock into the Café again, he says a regular stream of hospital staff still drop in for coffee and boxed lunches they can eat at their desks. And then there are the patients or waiting family members who poke their heads in to see if the Café is really open.

“I think people are a bit timid about entering with all the COVID-19 restrictions so I’ll step out and greet them to let them know it’s OK to come through.

“I love our location in the main lobby. The Café is what people see first when they come into the hospital. Sometimes they smell the toast.  Even if it’s burnt, our toast is like a marketing tool that lets everyone know we’re here!”

Since Café revenues are directed back to patient care, Bill is encouraged whenever the pace picks up. Lately, the catering side of the business is doing better and he even senses a bit more foot traffic these days.

“It’s pretty much a waiting game now,” he says.  “We’ll continue providing the best food we can and keep plugging along.  We’re staying ready until we can go full steam again.”

People of KHSC celebrates individuals across Kingston Health Sciences Centre who capture the spirit of caring deeply for patients, families and each other.  Follow #myKHSC on Instagram to get the latest People of KHSC and more.