Dan Hopwood got an early Father’s Day gift at HealthONE’s Swedish Medical Center, an affiliate of HCA Healthcare, this month. After a life-threatening infection landed the 59-year-old in the Denver hospital days before his daughter’s wedding, a group of nurses planned a bedside ceremony so he could take part in her special day.
“When I found out my dad had been hospitalized just days before my wedding, I was devastated,” said newlywed Jennifer Nagle. “Due to the severity of his condition, he couldn’t leave the intensive care unit. I knew I would not be able to get married without my dad there.”
Dr. Philip Fidler, medical director of the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of Colorado at Swedish Medical Center, treated Mr. Hapwood, who had, what he described as an “extraordinarily dangerous infection.”
Hopwood had developed Fournier’s Gangrene and sought help first at sister HCA-HealthONE hospital Medical Center of Aurora, before being transferred to Swedish Medical Center’s relatively new burn and reconstructive unit based on his need for extensive wound care.
“The incredibly sad social circumstance, beyond that devastating condition, is his daughter was going to be married five days or so after he was admitted,” Dr. Fidler said. “The burn unit nurses got wind of his daughter’s wedding and they set up a little wedding chapel in his room in a way.”
In the burn unit, there’s a nylon mesh gauze that Dr. Fidler likened to bridal veil. He explained that a “burn nurse way back when” discovered that bridal veil – because it’s made of nylon – won’t stick to wounds, allows for drainage and holds dressings on.
“So, the nurses made ‘bridal veil’ out of that gauze around his room door,” he said. “It was nice.”
“I told him the good news is he shouldn’t have to pay for the wedding if he’s not going,” Dr. Fidler, joked. “So we had a laugh about that. He’s really an incredible person in terms of his sense of humor and positive outlook.”
Kirsten Williams, a registered nurse at Swedish Medical Center since February 2016, was Mr. Hopwood’s primary nurse on the burn unit. After learning he would miss his daughter’s wedding, she asked Jennifer if she would be interested in a hospital wedding (not knowing for sure if it could happen, she said.)
“I guess I got the ball rolling,” she told us via e-mail. “I passed on the desires of the family and what I’d learned to my unit director and charge nurse. We have such a great team here and I’m so glad everyone followed up to make this happen for the patient and his daughter.”
The eight-minute long ceremony was officiated by the couple’s friend and in attendance were family, friends, caregivers and, most importantly, the father of the bride.
“I was blown away with the nurses and Dr. Fidler’s level of understanding for this unique situation and request,” Jennifer said after returning from her honeymoon. “Everyone understood how close my dad and I are, and did everything they could to support me on my wedding day.”
“There are no words to say how thankful I am to the hospital, the doctor and the nurses. It was the most memorable day of my life. I will forever be grateful I was able to be married and share my ceremony at the hospital with my father there.”
After more than a month and a half at Swedish Medical Center, Mr. Hopwood has healed and will soon be discharged from the hospital’s rehabilitation unit. Just in time for Father’s Day.
This story appeared nationally on Weekend Express with Lynn Smith on HLN here (HCA internal audience can view here) and on Denver’s NBC affiliate here. Photos from the before, on, and after the special day can be found below. (Courtesy of Jennifer Nagle)
Jennifer Nagle posed in her wedding gown with her father Dan Hopwood before his hospitalization.
Jennifer and fiance get married at dad’s hospital bedside.
The bride and groom take photos with the father of the bride (Dan Hopwood) on their wedding day. Friends also pictured.
Dan Hopwood and registered nurse Mary give hugs on discharge day. Mary is holding “bridal veil.”