Ashley Gochenour
November 2019
Medical ICU
University of Virginia Health System
United States




A couple of weeks ago, I was working alongside Ashley when she came up to me and told me that there was going to be a wedding today in the MICU. I was confused at first and had her explain things further and I was completely awestruck at the compassion she was demonstrating for her patient and their family.
A patient she was caring for had a terminal diagnosis and was no longer seeking treatment. After talking with the family, Ashley discovered that the patient had a longtime fiancée and they had plans to marry later this year. Realizing the severity of the patient's condition with only days left to live, Ashley went into action. She talked with our charge nurse and doctors on that day to see if it was possible to get them married that day and she realized it was.
With help from many other team members, Ashley orchestrated the whole event. She got in touch with the chaplain on the unit and she would do the officiating. She called down to the cafeteria where a cake was donated to the cause that read a huge "congratulations". Other nurses on the unit got flowers to line the hallway so that his fiancée could "walk down the aisle". There were decorations of all sorts and colors printed out and put around the room. When the family was all present and the decorations were set, the wedding was held. Ashley walked the bride down the hallway and into her fiancé's room. The patient had to remain in the bed during the ceremony, but they made it work. The chaplain married the two of them and gave them a little certificate. Unfortunately, the marriage was not legalized due to the office being closed for labor day weekend. But, the patient and fiancée had sad it did not even matter, it was the whole process and love from the unit staff that made this day so memorable for them.
I took care of this patient and their family the next day and all they could talk about was the wedding and how amazing Ashley had been. You could see the love that the patient and fiancée had for each other and to be able to give them this final wish meant the absolute world to them. Ashley turned a horrible experience for this family into something special. The patient passed away two days later with his new wife and the entire family by his side. The patient's wife could not express her gratitude enough for this last great memory and for Ashley and all of her love and compassion.