It started when nurse Linda Simons noticed that patient Tim Lash seemed a little "down in the dumps."
One might expect that Lash, who lives in the Walled Lake-Wolverine Lake area, would be depressed. He suffered a horrifying injury to his leg and foot in July when he was struck by a car on Interstate 696 near Orchard Lake Road. But Simons asked whether something else was bothering him.
"He wouldn't tell me," she said. "So I talked to his therapists."
Lash has been working with occupational and physical therapists to heal injuries he suffered after being hit by a car as he crossed the freeway around 4:45 a.m. July 6.
"I was having a hard time steering my vehicle ... then a tie rod broke," Lash recalled. "I bumped the people to the right and knocked them off the road."
Lash's vehicle landed against the retaining wall on the other side of the freeway, so he walked across to check on the other driver. That person didn't have a cellphone, so Lash walked across the freeway to get his. The accident that caused his injuries occurred as he was walking back to the other car.
"Some yahoo was passing an 18-wheeler," he said. "When I got out from in front of the truck, all I could see was headlights, and I could hear the engine. I knew I was in trouble."
"Trouble" included a broken leg and ankle and what's called a "gloving wound", the peeling of his skin from just below the knee to his ankle. Lash had to undergo skin grafts as part of the work required to put his leg back together.
In his seven weeks at Botsford, he has gotten to know the staff very well.
And they have gotten to know him.
Lash's therapists told Simons the Walled Lake resident was concerned about missing his daughter Rachel's Aug. 20 wedding in Minneapolis.
"Every young lady wants her father at her wedding," Lash said.
Simons understood that the reverse is also true. Her first thought was, "Why can't we Skype it?" She put in a call to Bill Scheuber, a hospital administrator, and in 10 minutes, the deal was done.
So last Saturday, a 32-inch television screen and computer were brought to Lash's room, and hospital staff connected him with Minnesota via the Internet audio and video communications software. From his hospital room, Lash watched his daughter and new son-in-law, Andy, take their vows, and he had the chance to talk with people he hadn't seen in many years.
"It was the second-best thing to being there," Lash said. "These people have really gone out of their way to help."
That included providing him with a shirt and tie, a boutonniere — and even a wedding cake.
"When they were getting ready to start the reception, we lost the link, but I got to witness the most important part. I've never seen my daughter look more beautiful than she did that day," Lash said. "She looked very happy and content."
Lash was also content — which Simons said will have a direct affect on his continued recovery.
"Years ago, we used to treat just the medical diagnosis," she said. "Everything affects the healing process. Stress taxes your system. ... If we can help with the emotional aspect, we can help with the healing."
It's also more difficult to get a depressed patient to participate in his or her own treatment, she added. But while addressing patients' emotional needs is now routine at Botsford, doing it through Skype was definitely a first.
Nancy Dumas, Botsford's public relations manager, said as far as she knows, this is the first time the hospital's communications and information technology department has been involved in this kind of event. And Simons said it's a first for her 20-year nursing career.
For Lash, of course, it meant much more. And he can't thank hospital staff enough.
"This is truly one of the best hospitals in the area," he said. "They've treated me with the utmost respect and gone beyond what they needed to do. I hope if anybody needs a hospital, they'll pick this one. If I ever need a hospital (again), this is where I'll go.
"I'm not planning on that for quite some time," he added.