With their granddaughter's wedding just four days away, Lawrence and Mary Page and their family were saddened by the news. Lawrence, age 90, would not be healthy enough to go home in time to attend. Mercy's Mike Heckathorn and Jason Pirtz decided it was the perfect opportunity to try something new.
Jamie Lowder was getting married on May 30 and wanted her grandparents Lawrence and Mary Page of East Canton to be there. Unfortunately, Lawrence's condition wasn't stable enough. Although he had been admitted to a regular patient care unit at Mercy, Lawrence was soon transferred to the ICU.
"I was called because the family had concerns about Lawrence's care," says Mike Heckathorn, Mercy patient representative. "After he was moved to the ICU, I asked Jason Pirtz, administrative director of the ICU, to join me in conversation with family. We quickly learned the upcoming wedding was a large part of the family's concerns, yet it was clear he would not be well enough to go. Jason and I felt compelled to do something."
Not Letting the Patient and Family Down
On May 28, Mike contacted Jamie and suggested the idea of a FaceTime connection between a hospital iPad and her iPhone. Mike Schott, media center specialist, and Joe Hoffman, program coordinator, nursing informatics, worked for several hours to successfully establish a connection that would function with Mercy's secure network.
At that point, the equipment was ready. The staff on shift during the wedding was prepared. And then, on May 29, Lawrence needed to be transferred from the ICU to 8 Main.
"I didn't want to let the patient and his family down," says Mike Heckathorn. "So, I met them in the new room on 8 Main before the wedding was scheduled to begin."
Staff members ensured Lawrence was groomed for the appearance, and nurse Nicole Wackerly, RN, and his respiratory therapist Barb Reese, RRT, helped him remain stable while watching the ceremony and later interacting with Jamie and the wedding guests. Many relatives took time to send their love to Lawrence and Mary via the iPad connection.
"At times, it was as if you were right there in the park, watching the wedding," Mike Heckathorn adds.
'What I Would Want Someone to Do for My Family'
Mary calls the iPad experience "just terrific." She adds, "We saw everything – the beautiful bride, the wedding party. It was all very easy for Lawrence to see. It was truly wonderful."
Mary and Lawrence have been married for 68 years and have four children and six grandchildren.
Mike describes a brief moment after the video connection was ended. "Lawrence and I looked at one another and, even though no words were exchanged, that look confirmed why we do what we do," he says. "When a family member asked why I would do this for people I didn't know, I said, 'It's what I would want someone to do for my family.'"
He hopes Mercy will be able to use this technology again in the future to link patients and families in special circumstances like this one.