But they pulled it off. The bride's brother made it to the ceremony with minutes to spare. The wedding had at around 50 "guests" from the hospital in attendance.
Staff on the ICU floor made the couple a honeymoon suite and decorated the room. They added cards, sparkling grape juice, and candles. Later, they gave a wedding album and the video to the bride and groom as a wedding present.
"Our treatment plan took a back seat that day because of something much more important," says Conway, adding that the idea took on a life of its own and reminded him of what's really important when treating patients.
"We, as clinicians, sometimes kind of forget the most basic questions, like, 'What are the patient's goals for his care?' His goal that day was to get married," says Conway. "He was stuck in a hospital and if it didn't get done, he would've missed something. That refocused me to pay attention to the patient's goals. It's a basic question we should be asking. I got caught in doing what I do, which most times is, What are we going to do to address the cancer? It's a good lesson for me that patient goals are how we should start and end our conversations."
Smothers and his wife were so touched by the extra mile run by so many of Gundersen's staff that when the hospital asked to share their story, they were enthusiastic. Local station WKBT took an interest and produced a story and a touching video about how Elvin and Kathy Smothers met and married.