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Published on December 19, 2016

Hospitals don’t take holidays. Who’s working? (ER Edition)Hospitals don’t take holidays. Who’s working? (ER Edition)

Kathleen Slye

Kathleen Slye, Clinical Leader, Cape Cod Hospital ER

The holidays symbolize many different things for people – extra time spent with family and friends, delicious feasts and, of course, a few days off from work. But for hospitals, there’s no shutting down, no half-day closing and no holiday hours, which means some staff will be working.

It’s a busy time for everyone and an important time for those patients who cannot make it home themselves. The care they receive, whether on-going or emergency is crucial to their recovery and well-being – and it wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of the staff members who work those holiday shifts.

Leonard Nelson

Leonard Nelson, Diagnostic Tech, Falmouth Hospital ER

So what’s it like working on a holiday? Cape Cod Health News caught up Kathleen A. Slye, Clinical Leader at Cape Cod Hospital Emergency Center and Leonard Nelson, Diagnostic Technician at Falmouth Hospital Emergency Center, who can tell you first hand:

Have you worked a holiday in the ER before?

“I work the night shift and have worked many holidays over the years. It is generally quite busy,” said Kathleen.

“Yes, I have worked previous holidays in the ED, usually to cover someone else who has young children at home,” added Leonard. “It is a bittersweet time for the patients because no one plans on being sick on Christmas. Those of us working strive to keep a calm, holiday mood in the department without enhancing the disappointment the patients have to be in-patient.”

Do you do anything special for the patients or as a team?

“We bring in some of our favorite dishes to share when we get time to eat,” said Kathleen.

“I wear one of my Hawaiian Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas shirts) sometimes with a Kukui nut lei to mark the occasion. The shift has a pot luck breakfast brunch that we partake of in our breaks,” added Leonard.

What about outside of the hospital, how do you celebrate with your family? Are you doing anything special when you get off your shift?

“I am looking forward to spending time with my family and especially my grandchildren,” said Kathleen.

“My wife Stephanie has been an ER nurse at Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital and I worked twenty years as a Firefighter/Paramedic, so we have always had to modify our holiday celebration due to one or both of us working on Christmas. Thus, Christmas Eve is a focus for our family with church services and family gathering. Having been born in England, to an American father and English mother, Christmas Eve was the night that we opened the annual Christmas parcel from my English grandparents and listen to their annual Christmas tape. Also, December 26th is celebrated as St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day) in England and our family has celebrated on that day as part of the Twelve Days of Christmas,” said Leonard.

What has been your favorite memory from working a holiday at CCHC?

“Definitely the camaraderie, when we have time to share with each other. Also, the ability to help our patients get back to their celebrations,” said Kathleen.

It’s no surprise that Leonard agreed…

“The camaraderie fostered among those of us working on Christmas being expressed in sharing condensed version of our personal traditions and “Secret Santa” exchanges,” added Leonard.