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A Weekend Wedding at St. John’s Rehab

When Tony Kim is discharged from St. John’s Rehab this week–after a month-long hospital stay at Sunnybrook–he will be leaving as a freshly declared newlywed.

Tony was looking forward to marrying his college sweetheart Irene on the morning of September 3—the day of their ten-year anniversary—but a motor vehicle collision in early August temporarily disrupted his plans. The civil ceremony (planned prior to the car accident) was to take place at Toronto’s City Hall, however, with the support of St. John’s staff, Tony arranged to have the ceremony in the hospital gardens instead.

A pharmacist, Tony met Irene while they were studying in their hometown of Vancouver, at the University of British Columbia. It was his dedication to community pharmacy that had Tony driving home to Toronto from Muskoka (where he was providing coverage) at night, during a heavy rainstorm.

Tony’s car hydroplaned on the slick roads, and spun out of control. His right femur and hip were injured, as well as his jaw. While the early details of his hospitalization and surgeries were difficult to recall, his final days of recovery at Sunnybrook would prove to be extremely memorable.

Staff on A2 shared Tony’s excitement leading up to the big day, and reviewed the morning’s preparation and dressing with him. “I still can’t wear both shoes,” Tony said, laughing, the day before the wedding, proud to be able to stand for ten minutes with the support of a walker, and his nurses close by. “But the trees here are awesome, and the forecast looks good,” he said, excited to proceed with his long-time plans.

With the majority of Tony and Irene’s family members residing in Vancouver, the ceremony was small, with participants including St. John’s Spiritual Care Coordinator Joanne Davies, and Sister Suzanne Marie, the Spiritual Care Provider for A2.

Tony and Irene

“Tony’s sister came as a surprise for him; that was delightful,” said Joanne Davies. “In fact, the lovely wedding dress (which had been his sister’s) was also a surprise. I think that moment was the best and most poignant for me…Tony’s reaction when he saw Irene coming down the path to the spot for the wedding under the Anniversary oak tree on the grounds. Truly a fairy-tale moment, and happy tears for all of us.”

Tony was grateful to have the support of the health care team, and the manicured gardens and picturesque backdrop as the location for his wedding. As a special gift, staff on A2 temporarily discharged Tony for the evening to spend time with his new bride.

“This has been a helpful learning experience for me, overall,” Tony said, sharing praises for the various interactions he had. “Being able to talk with–and learn from–the nurses, doctors, the pharmacist Grace [Jong], the physiotherapists, and staff like Martha [Agelopolous, the unit PAA], has really broadened my spectrum of understanding, as a pharmacist.”

Wedding of Tony and Irene

“Experiencing this holistic approach has been great,” he continued. “Once I started feeling better, I started writing diaries in my phone to record all of the moments and lessons I had while I was a patient.”

Tony looks forward to implementing these new lessons into his community pharmacy interactions and processes.

With A2 staff expressing optimism for his continued recovery and healing—and the ability to proceed with his full wedding ceremony and reception in April, walking his bride down the aisle with their family members in attendance—Tony is leaving his time at Sunnybrook not only as a married man, but also feeling strengthened, inspired, and professionally enlightened.

About the author

Stacey Robinson

Communications Advisor, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre