(Photo L to R: Dr. Gregory Argyros, chaplains Teklu Gudeto, Emmanuel Saidi, Christopher Oranyeli, Jerome McCallum, Anthony Akinlolu, Sheila Brown, Paulette Davidson and President John Sullivan; Not in the photo: Bro. John Thomas Fisher, Sr. Daria Moon and Bro. Anthony VanBerkum)
Many patients and families turn to MedStar Washington Hospital Center chaplains for spiritual and emotional support while in the hospital. Over the summer, the chaplains visited often with a terminally ill patient. Sadly, she took a turn for the worse and her care team had to share with the family that she might not make it home. That meant she would not be able to live out her greatest wish–to witness and attend the wedding of her son.
The chaplains refused to let the patient’s final wish go unfulfilled, so they immediately sprung into action. They brought together the patient’s son and the care team to find a way to meet the patient’s wish. The question was: ‘Can we have the wedding here at MedStar Washington Hospital Center?’
A Hospital Center Wedding
The chaplains got to work on the wedding plans, tackling one of the most important details: finding a venue. Without hesitation, the team chose the hospital’s Chapel of Intercessions–a very special and sacred place–which was moved in its entirety from Episcopal Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital, one of the three hospitals that merged to form MedStar Washington Hospital Center in 1958.
The team transformed the chapel into the most perfect on-site wedding venue, complete with decorations, food, music, ushers and a photographer. Even the chaplains’ offices were converted to dressing rooms for the wedding parties.
The day of the ceremony arrived. The bride and groom wore full wedding attire, and 30 of their closest family members and friends filled the chapel. The care team escorted the patient down to the chapel. The Rev. Christopher Oranyeli, a Hospital Center chaplain, began the wedding Mass, and two of the family’s priests officiated. As the ceremony concluded, the patient’s final, greatest wish had been fulfilled.
The family could not have been more appreciative of the outpouring of support they received from the chaplains–it meant so much to them and to the patient.
Six days after this wonderful occasion, the patient was transferred to hospice services where she died shortly thereafter. At her funeral Mass, the family requested the presence of Fr. Christopher.
Above all, patients first
MedStar Washington Hospital Center is dedicated to ensuring that above all, our patients are always our first priority, and the Spiritual Care team played an integral role in upholding that commitment.
Here is a family experiencing one of the most difficult times in their lives, and our chaplains came together to turn tragedy into what will forever be a special memory for all. That is the patient first, quality care the Hospital Center strives to provide to every patient, every day.
At a recent leadership meeting, the hospital recognized the team of chaplains with a special SPIRIT Shout Out for their unwavering commitment to serve the spiritual needs of this patient and all of our patients.