BILOXI, Miss. – A Biloxi Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center employee married his fiancé Oct. 1 at the Biloxi VA Medical Center Emergency Room.
Supervisory Telehealth Clinical Technician Winston Nicholls, a Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System employee and U.S. Navy Veteran, married Daphne Greer in the facility’s emergency room, with other Biloxi VA Medical Center employees serving as bridesmaids, gathering flowers and doing everything possible to ensure their fellow employee had a memorable experience.
“Staff have been so awesome and although things didn’t look good this morning, I am extremely happy to be able to still marry Daphne on this day and to do it in front of friends and co-workers was the icing on the cake,” said Nicholls. "I know organizations say they are a family, but the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System showed today that they care about me and my new wife. It does not get any more family than that.”
Scheduled to be on leave Oct. 1 for his wedding, Nicholls awoke with significant swelling on his lip. After icing it for a few hours and downplaying this for his soon-to-be wife, Nicholls and Greer eventually elected to go to the Biloxi VA Medical Center emergency room. With the impending wedding unknown to staff, they were ultimately seen by the attending medical professionals, who determined the swelling was an allergic reaction to medication Nicholls was taking.
“It is a common occurrence to develop an allergy from this medication,” said Emergency Department Nurse Lauren Miller. “He and his fiancé were supposed to get married today, and after he was checked out, he asked if we had a notary on site.”
As other GCVHCS employees became aware of the situation, staff gathered flowers, food and other items to celebrate the event. Volunteering nurses acted as bridesmaids, and the GCVHCS Associate Director of Patient Care Services Dr. M. Christopher Saslo volunteered to step in as the best man.
The 11 a.m. ceremony was ultimately handled by a GCVHCS chaplain, witnessed by Biloxi VA Medical Center emergency room staff and other gathered coworkers.
“Once staff discovered that they were supposed to get married today, they wanted to assist and accommodate them as much as possible,” said Chief of Community and Public Affairs Vernon Stewart. “Nicholls and his fiancée began asking questions, inquiring if we had a notary on site and if the chaplain could come over and marry them. It was amazing to see everyone organize to make this happen the way it did.”
The GCVHCS enjoys a significant camaraderie, Saslo added, saying the kinship these medical professionals share is unparalleled.
“We’ve held graduations, get-togethers and now a wedding,” he said. “These medical professionals are dedicated to not only caring for the Veterans we’ve all pledged to serve, but to taking care of each other. I couldn’t ask for a finer group of VA employees with whom to work.”
Despite the unique circumstances surrounding the wedding, Miller said that she and other employees were happy to assist with this Veteran and coworker’s situation.
“This morning, it seemed like they had the worst of luck, but it turns out they made the best of the situation, and we are so glad we were able to witness and participate in their special moment,” Miller said.
The Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System is headquartered in Biloxi, Mississippi, and provides a variety of medical outpatient services to more than 77,000 Veterans and other beneficiaries at five locations in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.