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'Working on Christmas Day'

'Working on Christmas Day'

By Florine Murray

It was an unusually quiet day in the emergency room on Dec. 25. Quiet, that is, except for the nurses who were standing around the nurses' station grumbling about having to work on Christmas Day. cutline; celebration post bulletin pbp By Florine Murray

It was an unusually quiet day in the emergency room on Dec. 25. Quiet, that is, except for the nurses who were standing around the nurses' station grumbling about having to work on Christmas Day.

I had just been out to the waiting room to cleanup. Since there were no patients waiting to be seen at the time, I came back to the nurses' station for a cup of hot cider. Just then another nurse told me I had five patients waiting to be evaluated. I whined, "Five, how did I get five? I was just out there and no one was in the waiting room."

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So I went there and called the first name that was signed in, Five bodies showed up, a pale petite woman and four small children. "Are you all sick?" I asked suspiciously. "Okay," I replied, unconvinced, "who's first?" Two children had earaches but only one could tell me which ear was affected. The mother complained of a cough but had to work to produce it.

Something was wrong with the picture. I explained to the mother the doctor was busy in the emergency room with another patient and it would be a little while before he could see them. She responded, "Take your time, it's warm in here." I checked the chart after the admitting nurse had registered the family. No address:they were homeless. The waiting room was warm,

I went back to the nurses' station and told them we had a homeless family in the waiting room. The nurses, grumbling about working Christmas, turned to compassion for a family just trying to get warm on Christmas. The team prepared for a Christmas emergency. We put together our meal offered in the cafeteria on Christmas Day and prepared a banquet for our Christmas guests.

For presents, we put together apples and oranges in a basket. We made little goodie bags of stickers (borrowed from the X-ray department), candy patients had brought the nurses, crayons and little fuzzy bears that nurses clipped onto their stethoscopes. Our team met the needs and exceeded the expectations of a family who just wanted to be warm on Christmas Day.

We each took our lunch break with the family. The four children were telling me about what they wanted to be when they grow up. The six year-old stated she wanted to be a nurse and help people. The mom smiled and said, "I just want my family to be safe, warm and content just like they are right now."

By the end of the day, we were able to locate a shelter that would take the family in on Christmas Day.

As they walked to the door to leave, the four year-old came running back, gave me a hug and whispered, "Thanks for being our angels today."

On my return back to the nurses', my coworkers stood with a box of tissues. Each one of us worked a Christmas Day she would never forget.

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