By Monique Binkley Smith and Catlin Valles, Vitals contributors
Staff members in the Intensive Care Unit at Sutter Eden Medical Center recently planned a special wedding ceremony, but it wasn’t for anyone on staff. The celebration was their way of honoring a patient in their care.
After 77-year-old patient Ed Dugan expressed his wish to marry Lucy Becerra, his partner of 37 years, Eden chaplain Jenifer Ingerman Miller and many other members of Dugan’s care team sprang into action, joining with the Castro Valley couple’s family to stage a ceremony in the ICU where he had been admitted just before Thanksgiving for significant respiratory issues.
“This is a perfect example of our care teams holistically meeting our patients needs while they are in the hospital,” said Eden’s chief nurse executive Jonathan Judy-del Rosario. “I am simply amazed at how people came together to make this such a special occasion for Ed and Lucy and their family.”
A hospital’s ICU may not be the ideal setting for a wedding for most people, but the staff’s compassion and thoughtfulness meant the world to a family who might not otherwise have the opportunity to celebrate this special milestone together. And for staff, it was a chance to honor their patient as an individual outside of their experience in the hospital’s care setting.
Dugan, whose health has improved enough since the Dec. 5 wedding to move to another, less intensive unit in the hospital, says he is grateful for the care he has received, “Doctors at Eden have developed a program for me that I believe will extend my life. I wasn’t very well when I came in, so kudos to the medical staff!”
More than 50 people attended the heartfelt ceremony. Half of the crowd was made up of the couple’s friends and family and the other half were hospital staff and caregivers who had come to feel a connection with the couple.
“It’s not too often we get to take time to really celebrate moments in our patients’ lives knowing the profound impact we can have with just a little coordination,” said ICU nurse manager Chad Ortega. “It was truly a humbling and proud moment to see our teams at Eden go above and beyond their call of duty to make this heart-warming and meaningful moment come to life!”
“We were all blessed to have shared this moment with the Dugan and Becerra families. It truly tugged on our heart strings as we realized as healthcare professionals: ‘This is why we do what we do,’” said Ortega.
Ed Dugan says he is grateful to Eden’s medical team for identifying and addressing the underlying reason for his illness and says he is now on a path to recovery.
When asked about their plans for the future, Ed Dugan responded, “Recovery!” and Lucy Dugan chimed in she wants Ed “to get better and get back home!”
The Sutter Eden Medical Center care team wishes the newlyweds every happiness!