Clinic staff helps course of love run smoothly

Cake, flowers, chapel materialize for wedding

2/11/2012
BY JIM SIELICKI
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Timothy Finneran, heart patient and father of the bride, is surrounded by the wedding party. From left after the Friday ceremony are Surgeon Douglas Johnston, unit nurse Terri Murray, bride Amanda Wick Pryka, groom Sgt. Geoff Pryka, bride’s mother Trish Finneran, and daughter Kassie Finneran, the maid of honor.
Timothy Finneran, heart patient and father of the bride, is surrounded by the wedding party. From left after the Friday ceremony are Surgeon Douglas Johnston, unit nurse Terri Murray, bride Amanda Wick Pryka, groom Sgt. Geoff Pryka, bride’s mother Trish Finneran, and daughter Kassie Finneran, the maid of honor.

CLEVELAND — As weddings go, there wasn’t a lot of pomp, but it had plenty of circumstance for Amanda Wick when she tied the knot Friday with Perrysburg resident Geoff Pryka at the Cleveland Clinic.

But like most love stories, this one has a happy ending.

The couple’s wedding plans were thrown into disarray this week when Amanda’s father, Timothy Finneran, 56, of Catawba Island Township in Ottawa County, was flown Tuesday to Cleveland from a Sandusky hospital for quadruple-bypass surgery.

Family members waited at the hospital while Mr. Finneran underwent the eight-hour procedure Wednesday to replace arteries that were 95 percent blocked, said Amanda, 20.

“It was shocking and scary,” she said.

Thursday’s church wedding in Bowling Green was shelved.

Meanwhile, another countdown clock was ticking.

The groom, a corporal in the Army National Guard, was home from Afghanistan on a 15-day leave that ends Saturday.

For Amanda, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, getting married without her father to walk her down the aisle was inconceivable.

“I’m really close to my father. He’s my stepfather who has raised me since I was 5 years old,” she said. “He’s treated me like his own daughter.”

At the suggestion of their minister, the couple decided to exchange vows in Mr. Finneran’s hospital room Friday morning amid the intravenous and oxygen tubes, wires, and monitors.

That’s when nurse Terri Murray, nurse manager of a unit of the heart and vascular department, dashed those plans.

With the efficiency of a general and compassion of a nurse, Ms. Murray mustered hospital resources to make the exchange of marriage vows something more memorable.

The Cleveland Clinic’s ninth-floor glassed-in pavilion was commandeered for a chapel.

Flowers and boutonnieres materialized, and a wedding cake was baked in the hospital kitchen. Bows were found for the chairs, and yoga mats were arranged to make an aisle.

A violinist from the hospital staff was called at home and asked to provide the music.

The entire event was a surprise to the couple.

“We didn’t have the slightest idea,” said Mr. Pryka, 26, who is to be promoted to sergeant when he returns to Afghanistan.

“We just thought it would be our small family being in his room — just something short and sweet,” he said.

The bride didn’t wear a gown. But her father did — a hospital gown, complete with a bow tie.

The bride was dressed in white slacks and off-the-shoulder taupe top. The groom wore a dark suit with a green boutonniere.

With his daughter at his side, Mr. Finneran was pushed down the makeshift aisle in a wheelchair, trailed by an IV pole, oxygen, and monitors.

Accompanying him was his surgeon, Dr. Douglas Johnston, and a bevy of hospital aides.

Nurse Murray said special events can do wonders for a patient’s well-being, especially after a medical emergency that forces changes to other people’s lives as well as that of the patient.

“He felt bad that this had to happen to his baby, his daughter,” she said, adding that “he said he felt so good” after witnessing his daughter exchange vows with her beau.

“This is one of those things in your career where you can make a difference in someone’s life,” Ms. Murray said Friday night. “We had a short time to pull things together, but we called in all our resources. It was a team effort.”