“I do” on the PCU brings joy to a patient and their family
Tears of sadness are often a fact of life on Richmond Hospital’s Palliative Care Unit (PCU), but on a sunny day in late June, tears of happiness were shed instead, as Deanna and Danny Ransom began their life together at the most unconventional of wedding venues.
“All the PCU staff, all the nurses, they were the guests at our wedding,” recalled Ransom, a few weeks after the fact. “Everyone was super happy to have us on the unit and to celebrate with us. Everyone was incredibly welcoming and generous and willing to do whatever was needed to make this happen.”
The wedding of Deanna and Danny Ransom is the first such celebration in recent memory to happen on the PCU. It came about after Danny’s father, Alfred Ransom, 84, was admitted to the palliative care unit from emergency, just a few days prior to The Big Day.
A case of unfortunate timing
Alfred had been back and forth to Richmond Hospital several times over the previous months, but his health took a serious turn in late spring. With only a few days left before the ceremony, the family was hoping that Alfred would be well enough to leave hospital, but a trip to VGH the day prior for dialysis dashed all hope of a timely discharge.
“When Jennifer Hunter discovered that we were to be married the next day, and that my husband’s father, Alfred, wouldn’t be able attend, she called me and said, ‘Let’s have the wedding here,’” said Deanna. “She said she’d do everything she could to make our wedding happen on the unit so he could attend. And she did.”
24 hours until “I do”
What happened next is truly a reflection of the extent to which Richmond Hospital, Richmond Hospital Foundation, and Richmond Hospital Auxiliary volunteers went to ensure Deanna and Danny got their day.
The couple had planned a small wedding at their home, so shifting gears — while still challenging — wasn’t impossible. With less than 24 hours in which to pull it all together, staff got to work.
The PCU patient lounge was pinpointed as the best spot for the ceremony, and the palliative care team took responsibility for decorating and readying it. Richmond Hospital Foundation provided the services of a photographer, and an Auxiliary member volunteered to play the piano during the ceremony.
“I felt like I was on one of those reality shows, “This is Your Wedding!” said Deanna.
Preserving a patient’s dignity
On the day itself, a nurse appeared in Alfred’s room in the morning whose sole duty was to prepare him for the wedding. He was bathed, his hair freshly combed and styled, dressed in his suit and looking his best. Alfred was able to walk into the lounge on his own, and share the experience with his wife of more than 60 years, Shirley.
“Everyone recognized the importance of preserving a person’s dignity and self-respect,” said Deanna. “Alfred was cleaned up and spruced up so he could attend our ceremony looking his best (instead of dishevelled and wearing a hospital gown). That was incredibly thoughtful and a very big deal for him.”
All the effort paid off. “It was a perfect day,” said Alfred, after the ceremony. “It was the best day I’ve had in a long time.”
According to Deanna, coming up with solution to the couple’s problem on such short notice allowed Alfred to stop worrying about missing the wedding, and instead focus on improving his health.
“Being able to hold our ceremony in your hospital so that Alfred could be part of our important day meant everything to our family,” Deanna said. “Having the pictures (with all of our parents in them) completes the overall wonderful experience you gave to us and gives us some beautiful keepsakes that we will treasure forever… And, on top of everything else, all of your hospital staff provided timely, friendly, top-rate medical care and were able to stabilize Alfred’s conditions well enough that we were able to get away on our honeymoon with minimal imminent worry, and Alfred was able to eventually be discharged home.”