Helpful Caregivers Make a Wedding Dream Come True

By: Jena Valenzuela

August 27, 2020

Father of the bride sign on the end of the hospital bed

A wedding is a big day for the wedding couple, but it’s also special for loved ones. A patient at Renown, Ken, got to take part in his daughter’s special day as her wedding plans changed to accommodate his medical condition. Grab some tissues and read how Renown’s team of compassionate caregivers and chaplains planned a wedding in Fianna’s Healing Garden.

Ken was hospitalized at Renown Regional Medical Center where he was battling a lung problem – which was unrelated to COVID-19 – and his condition worsened rapidly on Wednesday, Aug. 12. His family made the decision to transition him to palliative care, which helps patients near the end of their lives remain comfortable, while supporting their dignity and quality of life. 

Ken’s medical condition altered wedding plans for his daughter, Chandra, and her fiancé, Tyler, who were planning to tie the knot later in 2020. Chandra wanted her father there, but knew he could not leave the hospital. That’s why Chandra’s sister, Heather, approached Ken’s care team with a request to have a small wedding ceremony at the hospital. 

Planning the Wedding

A member of Ken’s care team, Amy Heston, registered nurse (RN), began planning how the wedding could be held outdoors in Fianna's Healing Garden in the E. L. Wiegand Pavilion, which was donated by the E. L. Wiegand Foundation.  

In 24 hours, Amy planned a wedding ceremony with the help of her colleague, Breyanna Aufiero, RN; the Renown Spiritual Care team; and nursing leaders on the coronary intensive care unit (ICU). Together, they decorated the aisle in the garden with flowers and battery-operated candles. They also made a sign for Ken’s hospital bed, which read, “Father of the Bride,” and crafted a bow tie for him to wear for the special occasion. 

With visitor restrictions in place at the hospital due to coronavirus (COVID-19), having the wedding outside in the Healing Garden allowed for more members of Ken’s family to attend including his wife, Charlotte, and his dog, Bella.  

Every step in planning the wedding required thoughtful and thorough care coordination so Ken could participate. His breathing was supported by oxygen and special arrangements were made to transport the oxygen tanks he needed to take part in his daughter’s wedding. Amy worked with respiratory technician, Kasey Benfield, and critical care technician, Ruben Duckworth, to ensure Ken’s oxygen needs were met using portable machines. 

Celebrating Love and Life Together

Ken’s team of caregivers bathed him and shaved his face so he could look and feel his best for the ceremony. They put on his bow tie, covered his bed in decorations and his favorite blue, flannel blanket, and wheeled his bed outside for the ceremony. 

Renown associate chaplains Terri Domitrovich and Susan Palwick coordinated music and performed the ceremony for Chandra and Tyler on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. The bride and groom shared their first dance in the garden and Ken’s care team provided water and treats to give the family a full wedding experience.  

Shortly after the ceremony, Ken passed away. This wedding provided Ken and his family meaningful memories for their big life-changing moments as they celebrated and said goodbye. 

“Seeing Ken surrounded by family he never would have gotten to see again while in the hospital, watching him get to share a father-daughter dance with Chandra on her wedding day, and having him tell me that this day meant more to them than we would ever know were some of the most moving moments I’ve witnessed as a nurse,” Amy said. “I am so thankful for the team we have here. I know that this beautiful day wouldn’t have happened without the help of every single person who gave their time, money, creativity and passion to make it a day to remember.” 
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