NICHOLAS and Nina Conomos have only been apart once in their 58 years of marriage and a recent two-week stay at their local hospital was not that time.
Dr Conomos and his wife were undergoing separate treatments at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Kangaroo Point, and were required to stay in the hospital for two weeks.
Under the hospital’s admissions policy, patients of the opposite sex are not normally allowed to be in the same room.
But Dr Conomos, a former Wellers Hill GP who receives treatment at the hospital for chronic back pain, had concerns about being away from his wife, who has compression fractures in her back and is prone to falling.
“She has falls and things – I’d be worried about her,” Dr Conomos said.
To the couple’s surprise, an administration staff member found a way to keep them together during their short stay.
“She was so generous and so kind and she said, ‘I’ll work it out for you’,” Dr Conomos said.
“It was marvellous.
“We would eat together, have our cup of tea beside us at night time, we would watch our programs together.
“Then the therapists would come in, grab one, and we had different therapists, she’d be doing her thing; I’d be doing my thing.
“It was fantastic actually.
“We really value our company.
“We talked to our friends and everybody envied the idea that we were even in the same room.”
Mrs Conomos said it was “100 per cent” important to have her husband by her side.
“I need it,” she said.
“We live a happy life.”
Dr Conomos, who was born in North Queensland to Greek parents, met his wife, originally from Greece, in Brisbane.
They have only been apart once in their long marriage, when Dr Conomos travelled to Greece for six weeks with a group taking expats back to their homeland.
But the Greek Orthodox couple and proud parents to three children claim they are not a couple like the pair in The Notebook film.
“Oh, (there is) no love story, we just met at a party,” Mrs Conomos said.
“We weren’t fantastically in love with each other – we met each other and gradually became fond of each other and I think love grew more after we got married than before,” Mr Conomos said.
“As we age, it seems to bring us closer together, because I worked hard all my years as a medico, and she was a great girl, would look after kids and did everything that anyone could ever wish for.”
The pair hoped other couples could receive the same generous offer at the hospital.
“I hope they do make it a normal thing because we were one of the few they accepted as a couple and it worked very well for us,” Dr Conomos said.
St Vincent’s Private Hospital general manager Cheryl Royle said keeping Dr and Mrs Conomos together was a priority.
“At St Vincent’s Private Hospital we are so fortunate to be in a position where, when it is possible, we can offer to keep married couples like Nic and Nina together,” Ms Royle said.
“For Nina and Nic, who each required inpatient rehabilitation at the same time, we were able to keep them together and accommodate them in a hospital room where they were very comfortable but more importantly, together.
“Being together meant they had each other for companionship, comfort and support during their hospital stay.
“They didn’t have the stress that being apart from each other for a hospital stay can bring.”
The couple returned to their home on October 23 in happy spirits, ready to continue their strong, 58-year marriage.
By Emilie Ng