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Article originally published Spring 2024 in The Monitor magazine.

Grateful Hearts 

To look at Jeani Shopel’s wedding pictures, one would never guess that her big day was anything less than perfect. In reality, Sept. 2, 2023, was a far cry from the wedding day Jeani had imagined. On Sept. 1, her mother, Juanita Spangler, 87, broke her femur and was taken to Fairfield Medical Center where it was determined that she would need to have surgery the following day – Jeani’s wedding day.

Jeani Shopel, Juanita Spangler and Susan Lane.“My mom was to be my maid of honor,” Jeani said. “She just kept saying, ‘I ruined my daughter’s wedding.’ She was so upset.”

Among the FMC staff members caring for Juanita that day was Emergency Department technician Susan Lane. Wanting to do something to help, Susan told Jeani that she was off the next day, but would be happy to come in and help Juanita watch the wedding via video chat. Jeani was touched, especially when she learned that Susan would be leaving her class reunion to come in. She decided to recognize Susan as a Legendary Caregiver through the FMC Foundation’s Grateful Patient program (see below).

“I was very humbled,” Susan said. “When my patients are upset or having a difficult time, I try to put myself in their situation and be as kind and helpful as possible. My mom always told me no one can get mad at a smile, and she was right.” Jeani Shopel and Susan Lane.

Jeani said she will always remember Susan as “the unexpected, but most appreciated” guest at her wedding. “Just knowing that my mother was there watching meant so much to me,” Jeani said. “Susan did that for us. She’s our angel.”

If you are a grateful patient or family member who would like to honor a caregiver, please visit our Grateful Patients and Families page to submit your story. You will also have an opportunity to make a donation to the FMC Foundation in the name of your caregiver. Caregivers who are honored are given a pin to wear on their badge and a certificate. They are also honored in FMC publications.