Becky Carter: At Blue Ridge Regional Hospital, A Spontaneous Wedding is Just Another Type of Caregiving

By Becky Carter
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Nursing Officer, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital

It’s not every day you see two people united in matrimony – at a hospital. Well, we can now chalk that up as a wonderful event that has happened at Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. You just never know what healing is going to look like, and this past summer, we were able to be part of a very special event in the lives of one of our patients, his great-granddaughter, and her fiancé.

We were caring for an elderly male patient and sadly, he was failing and there was the distinct possibility that he might not return home after this hospitalization. This patient was fortunate to have enjoyed an incredibly sweet, special, and close relationship with his cherished great-granddaughter, who was engaged to be married.

This gentleman was one of his great-granddaughter’s most vocal and loving cheerleaders throughout her life. In fact, he set his longevity goals to match her life milestones. He was determined to live long enough to see her graduate from college and graduate school, and he was able to do that. He was also intent on being present for her wedding, but his hospitalization threatened the chances of that dream coming true.

As he was being treated here, his great-granddaughter realized that he was fading and that he might not be able to make it to her wedding, which was scheduled for several months later. Their bond was so unbreakable that she opted to scrap the original wedding plans, because having him present for this celebration was the most important thing to her.

She and her fiancé decided that they would move the wedding up and get a magistrate to marry them right in her great-grandfather’s hospital room, with a few family members, and a minimum of “hoopla.”

By the time we heard about this romantic and joyful plan, it was only hours before the magistrate would arrive. My intrepid Executive Assistant Christy Ryerse and BRRH’s Nurse Manager Jennifer Barnett are never ones to back down from meeting a patient and family’s need, and got to work immediately. They headed to Ingles and got the freshest flowers they could find for the bride’s bouquet and a small wedding cake. Christy designed the bride’s bouquet and “raided” office décor for some candlesticks, a vase for more flowers, and battery-powered candles. The staff set up the temporary wedding venue in the patient’s hospital room by creating an altar with the flowers and candles, as well as some artistically-draped sheets in wedding-appropriate white.
In just about two hours’ time, we were set up not only for the wedding ceremony, but a small reception afterwards, complete with the wedding cake and punch.

This family let us know that this event ended up being profoundly meaningful for them. It was likewise deeply important to us to serve our patient in this unusual, but significant way. This as an example of how the relationships that are built between patients and every team member at the hospital can blossom into something unexpected and meaningful for everyone involved.
And have no doubt: These moments are indeed part of the core of caregiving at BRRH – and the essence of why we do this work.

In this season of thanksgiving, I want to express my personal gratitude to Blue Ridge Regional Hospital: the board, the providers, the staff, and community members who have partnered with me during the past 5+ years. As I say “thank you,” I am also saying “goodbye;” November 29th was my last day with BRRH. I will be relocating to serve as the hospital president for a community hospital near my daughter and son-in-law.

Serving as the CEO and CNO of BRRH has been a privilege and high point of my career. We have been focused on quality and service, and the community has been at the table with us in this effort. We have achieved many goals and weathered some challenges; the future is bright and a strong course is set. The BRRH team is the finest group of employees I have had the pleasure of serving with; they are top-notch and deserving of the community’s continued support. Continue to support your local hospital and it will grow and improve for you.

Becky Carter

Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.

Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.