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Staff at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital help to plan an impromptu hospital wedding

August 21, 2020

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Colleen McCauley and Ed Sasso with George Sasso during their bedside ceremony that WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital staff planned.

Colleen McCauley and Ed Sasso with George Sasso during their bedside ceremony that WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital staff planned.

As a Registered Nurse at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital, Colleen McCauley has seen firsthand how nurses and staff members go above and beyond for their patients, but she never thought that she would be on the receiving end of that.

Colleen and her fiancée, Ed, should be getting married next month but back in March those wedding plans changed quickly as Ed’s father, George, became sick. His health quickly declined as he was hospitalized at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit at the beginning of March. George told one of his doctors, Dr. Iwona Janicka, hospitalist at WellSpan Chambersburg Hospital, that he needed to stay alive until September so he could be there for Colleen and Ed’s celebration.

On March 19, 2020, Dr. Janicka sat down with the couple and mentioned that she wanted to plan something special with the couple and George as his health was continuing to decline. Within 45 minutes of them agreeing, members of the palliative care team were joined by Dr. Janicka, Dr. Shalanki Baiswar, care coordinators, managers and nursing staff to fulfill George’s wish.

This team put together a ceremony of blessing for Colleen and Ed with Kibreab Gudeta, the hospital’s chaplain. George’s nurse was the maid of honor and they provided Colleen with something borrowed (Dr. Baiswar’s lace scarf), blue and new. They also served cake and sparkling juice and sang songs for the newlyweds. All of which, George could be a part of.

“As a physician, there is so much more we can do for our patients apart from medical treatment,” said Dr. Shalanki Baiswar. “We try to do anything and everything to care for them and make them feel better.”

George passed away the following day.

Colleen and Ed were so appreciative of how the staff went out of their way to help make George’s wish come true. “The staff were absolutely extraordinary,” Colleen said. “I can’t thank them enough for everything they did during this difficult time.”

The couple is planning to have a small wedding ceremony in September to celebrate and a larger vow renewal next year with all their friends and family, but were so thankful that they were able to share this special moment with their dad.