Each and every one of us has made it our duty to positively affect other people’s lives every day. However, this is a story that goes beyond any measure of impact of our everyday norm. For those that don’t know exactly what it means when you hear “Facility Alert High Capacity Level Black Emergency Room” over the hospital-wide intercom system, here is a brief description. This means that the Emergency Department is currently holding a number of patients that are waiting on inpatient beds, at least 12 people. There are over 8 patients in the waiting room to be seen by a Provider. Operations are being affected, the staff is providing crisis standards of care, there are no inpatient beds available and none in sight. Usually, during this time our hall beds are also being utilized, and none of this stops Transfer or Trauma patients from continuing to roll in. To paint a better picture during this particular event we were in a high capacity level black with 6 Traumas within a 2 ½ hour period.
This was the environment that you have to picture to truly appreciate what this story is about. During one Friday night in the middle of May, we received a patient from a rehab facility who was in acute respiratory distress. This was a middle-aged man battling stage 4 Cancer. Because of his prognosis and condition after the family arrived, they came together to decide if they wanted to continue care or not. They knew he didn’t have much time left, days at most. Now add to this, the knowledge that this patient’s daughter was scheduled to be married the very next day, Saturday morning and just hours away. The family had already decided that the grandfather would give the daughter away for her scheduled ceremony, as the father was too ill and in rehab. So now you have one of the happiest days in the family’s life mixing with possibly one of the worst.
The daughter simply wondered if there was any way she could get married in the ER. In the midst of the controlled chaos of the “Level Black”, three nurses, SNGH’s Angels, helped make this possible. Aimee McCollough and her orientee Brynne Kight, together with the assistance and maneuvering of the charge nurse Catherine Dalton gave this bride a spark of light during this dark time for her and her family. The patient was in C4, one of our larger rooms. Her brother had not yet arrived and was called in. After the members of her family that could be there arrived, the patient’s daughter was married by her brother in the room. Although the patient was critically ill, he was still able to share that special moment with his daughter. It was emotional for all involved, including the new and seasoned nurses in the department.
To have your father at your wedding is every little girl’s dream. Because of these three nurses, a very courageous lady was able to have her father by her side during an important milestone. The nurses involved went above and beyond to make this special day happen. Although her father did pass away a couple days later, he was able to be there for his daughter. Because of these kind compassionate nurses, no one will forget the “C4 Wedding” or how special it was. This was an exceptional display of compassionate care, and another fine example of Sentara Nursing and keeping our commitment to always treat you with dignity, respect, and compassion.