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What the Patient Really Wants

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, March 21, 2014

But for Smothers, it was the most important thing for his healthcare that day.

"He was acutely aware of his situation, and that's why he wanted to make sure they got married as soon as possible," says Conway.

A wrinkle was that the couple had a Minnesota marriage license, but not one for Wisconsin. Conway and his nurse navigator initially viewed the request as something beyond their purview, but, knowing the physical debilitation the new treatments would cause for Smothers, Conway promised to check into it.

Conway and his nurse navigator made their way back to their department, but as they talked about the request, Conway decided to head over to Gundersen's administration building to see if the request could be accommodated somehow. The person he was looking for wasn't there, so Conway began to walk out on the way to another appointment. That's when Bryan Erdmann, a Gundersen vice president, took an interest.

"He looked like he needed to talk to someone, so I just asked if there was anything I could do to help," says Erdmann.

Conway told Erdmann of Smothers' request and his idea that the couple could be transported via ambulance across the nearby state border into Minnesota and married quickly.

Erdmann said, "Well, let's get 'em married then" and went into action.

He checked with the Gundersen's legal department and found that an emergency Wisconsin marriage license could be issued. He talked with Smothers' attending physician to see whether the patient was up to it physically, if the service were performed on the hospital campus. Getting a yes, Erdmann passed the word around to the hospital staff, which , although short because of the impending holiday weekend, responded enthusiastically.

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1 comments on "What the Patient Really Wants"


Michael Cylkowski (3/21/2014 at 4:48 PM)
What a great story. Thanks for sharing it Philip.