Lehigh Valley Hospital Nurse helps hospitalized patient be part of his daughter’s wedding

Russell Bensinger does not remember falling or what happened after he fainted during his morning jog on the last day of June.

But when he came to, he was aware of what day it was — and he knew that he couldn’t afford to be hospitalized.

“I can’t go to the hospital,” he told the paramedics, “my daughter is getting married tomorrow. I have to go to her wedding.”

But the blood and the bruises on his face pointed to something serious. He would have to go to the hospital, whether he wanted to or not.

As the Danielsville man was being treated by the emergency room staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest, he implored the doctors and nurses one more time: “Please fix me up, my daughter is getting married tomorrow. I have to go to her wedding.”

The staff was sympathetic, but he had broken his cheekbone and nose. The 60-year-old man had been jogging for almost five years. He had completed several 5K races and had never faced any problems. Not until he fainted once earlier in June. He had been jogging as well that morning, but that time he wasn’t badly hurt.

The doctors didn’t know what may have triggered the episode. Bensinger would need to at least spend the night in the hospital and go through tests the next morning. The wedding was at 3 p.m.

At noon, he was told by his doctor that he needed to stay for a few more days. He was crushed.

“I felt worse about not being at the wedding than what I felt physically,” Bensinger explains. “Now I’m ruining the day for her.”

That’s when nurse Annette Gomez took charge. She called Bruce Bobo at the hospital’s technology department, and asked if he could help bring the wedding into the patient’s room.

“You’re not giving me much time,” the technician told Gomez initially. It was a sizable project, which needed to be completed in less than three hours on his Sunday afternoon. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, she explained.

“Let me change my shirt, and I’ll be right there,” Bobo told her. Before long, he had arrived on floor 4C of Lehigh Valley Hospital with a computer and an iPad to set up a remote connection.

They contacted the Filbert Bed & Breakfast in Danielsville, where the ceremony was being held. They coached the hotel owner and DJ as they set up a laptop and downloaded the video chat application. They used a web chat program known as Vidyo, which the health network uses for video conferences.

It was a race against time and an exercise in coordination. Gomez did not want to tell Bensinger about her plan until the connection was ready.

Then they walked into his room with an iPad, which had become a window through which he could see and participate in the wedding.

Bensinger saw the groom, Brad Rauch, waiting for his bride. He saw his daughter, Kim, as she walked through an arch leading to the aisle. Bensinger was supposed to be there next to her but his wife, Lynn, walked Kim down the aisle instead. He heard Brad and Kim say their vows and then walk out as husband and wife.

Gomez and about seven other staff members gathered around the computer, and saw when the bride came to the screen to share that moment with her dad.

“She cried,” Gomez said about the bride. “I cried, everybody cried.”

“There was not a dry eye in the room,” Bensinger agrees.

The bride asked about his health. Doctors still didn’t know what might have triggered the fainting. They were still scratching their heads when they released him July 4.

Bensinger knew that he was entering a new stage in his life. He would likely have to scale back his jogging and adapt to changes. But he did not want to bother his daughter with any of those details.

“Don’t worry about me,” he told the bride. “They’re taking good care of me.”