In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

February 4, 2020

As Patient’s Health Declines, Care Team Plans Double Wedding for His Family

By In the Loop

It took just four hours (and a lot of last-minute help from colleagues) for nurse David Fogarty to pull together a double wedding and create a lasting memory for a patient's family.


Some people spend months, if not years, planning their wedding. Mayo Clinic registered nurse David Fogarty only needed four hours to help plan one for the family of a patient he'd just met. "The day this all happened was the first and only day I ever took care of Bill," Fogarty tells us. "We're really close in age, so that helped create a bond. We were able to talk and joke together, and I think that helped put him at ease."

There was nothing easy, thought, about what had brought Bill Goskusky and his family to Rochester. "He was diagnosed last October with a really rare and aggressive form of thyroid cancer," Bill's daughter Jorie Swingel tells us. "It took over his body within a matter of months."

That didn't stop Bill's care team from trying to help. And it certainly didn't stop his family from showing their love along the way. "His health just kept getting worse," Jorie says. "So we were all like, 'Let's do something that's uplifting for him to try and change the mood around here.'"

The something the family decided on? A double wedding. Both Jorie and her older brother Neil Goskusky were engaged, and thanks to more than a little help from Fogarty, both were able to put a ring on it virtually on the spot. "I went to lunch one day, and when I came back, one of the other nurses told me Bill's kids were planning to get married that same day," Fogarty says. "I had no clue. This was at one o'clock in the afternoon."

After the initial surprise wore off, Fogarty began investigating. He discovered Jorie and Neil had "gotten rings and their marriage licenses, and had also found somebody online who was willing to be the officiant."

That's about as far as they'd gotten. Which is when Fogarty channeled his inner Franck Eggelhoffer. "I asked, 'Where are you doing all of this?'" Fogarty says. "And they said, 'We don't know yet.' The officiant they'd found had suggested a couple of public places around Mayo, but I said, 'I think we can do better than that.'"

Fogarty enlisted some pretty amazing spur-of-the-moment help from his colleagues. He called Chaplain Services, where chaplains Roger Graf and Spence Swanson helped reserve the Methodist Hospital chapel for 5 p.m. "Cassie Pressnall (the unit coordinator) then called the Methodist Gift Shop to ask for help with flowers, and gift shop manager Gail Cook graciously gave us two beautiful silk flower arrangements," Fogarty says. "Nurse Manager Maren Johnson — who'd only been on our floor a week — immediately said, 'We need a cake!' and then called a local grocery store to arrange to have one picked up. Charge Nurse Karla Irish allowed me to help make these plans and to be off of the floor with Bill when the time for the wedding came."

When the time came, Fogarty's role of impromptu wedding planner (hospital style) continued. "I arranged for the necessary safety equipment Bill needed in order to be off our floor, and I also helped him get shaved, cleaned up and dressed for the wedding," Fogarty says. "Before the ceremony began, chaplain Spence Swanson brought down a pair of computer speakers I could plug into my phone to play music for them and these kids then had themselves a wedding … all in four hours' time."

Sadly, Bill passed away a short time later. But not before creating one more lasting memory with his family. "It was really important for him to be there with us, so we decided Mayo Clinic was the perfect place for us to get married," Loran Goskusky, Neil's wife, says. "We all said, 'Why are we waiting? We're planning to get married anyway. Let's do it now so we can make one more good memory together.'"

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Tags: David Fogarty, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Methodist Hospital Chapel, Patient Stories, Thyroid cancer

What an amazing story. What a testament to the wholehearted effort these angels that man the hallowed hallways of each medical facility give to those in need. Bless all of you & a Special Blessing to Spence Swanson…you make our little town Proud.

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A beautiful day to cherish forever. #teamGus

Liked by davidfogarty

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This truly was a beautiful day, and a beautiful family. It was easy to see from my vantage point that Bill and Kelly had long taught and emulated a strong love to their children. This lesson was obviously repeated for Bill's new in-laws with the love they showed him. I could see and feel this love on this short day with this wonderful family. It was truly an honor and a blessing to be involved!
Honorary Member #teamGus
David Fogarty RN

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