Nursing staff makes patient’s wedding wish come true

JOHNSON CITY – A hospital room festooned with white bows and church bells, plus rose petals sprinkled on the floor, created a fairytale atmosphere Sept. 7 for the wedding of Angela Parker and Billy Nesbitt.

Angela, a palliative care patient, and Billy, both of Chenango County, exchanged vows on South Tower 4 at UHS Wilson Medical Center as family members and hospital staff looked on.

The ceremony was performed twice, on Sept. 7, and again on Sept. 8, so that relatives from out of town could attend.

The Rev. Corey VanKuren, chaplain and manager of Pastoral Care at UHS Hospitals, performed the ceremonies.

Members of the UHS nursing staff paid for the wedding entirely out of their own pockets, and volunteered their time to make the nuptial arrangements.

Staff bought wedding rings for the happy couple, and provided a veil and jewelry for the bride, flowers for the ceremony and lace decorations for the hospital room.

They also supplied tableware, a white tablecloth, balloons, sparkling grape juice and a wedding cake for a mini-reception afterwards.

“Our staff came in on their days off to prepare everything, because they wanted to do it and it was the right thing to do,” said Debra Huddle, RN, clinical supervisor in Nursing at UHS Wilson. “They were committed to doing what they could to make Angela happy and fulfill her last wish.”

Huddle added: “I’ve worked at UHS since 1981, and this event was very moving to me. The humility that the staff showed made it that much more special.”

Billy said the wedding was an important step, one that he and Angela had wanted to take for some time.

“This means a lot to both of us,” he said. “None of us knows when we will die. So we are just taking it one day at a time.”

Billy had been visiting his mother, a resident of the Preston Manor Home for Adults in Oxford, when he met another resident, Angela. He and Angela soon fell in love, and an October wedding was being discussed.

But then Angela’s illness took a turn for the worse, and she was admitted to UHS Wilson. She is now receiving palliative care to make her last days as comfortable as possible.

“She was very sad and anxious that a wedding wasn’t going to be possible,” Huddle said. “So our staff took it upon themselves to make her wish come true.”

Among the employees directly involved in putting together the wedding and reception are: Jenny Calleo, Rachel Gennett, Bethany Webster, Jamie Baldwin, Angela Skiba, Annette Micholychak, Joyce Jeffery, Denise Nestoryak, Jessica Mushalla, Robin Nedlik and Rick Fabrizi.

Others attending the wedding included: Rebecca King, Stacey McKown, Diane Lewis, Chyrl Doebler and Debra Huddle, as well as the Rev. Van Kuren and UHS Medical Staff members Carolyn Crispell, DO, and James Hayes, MD.

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