Remembering Caregivers on Holidays
By Medline Newsroom Staff | November 20, 2018
Work life for most can slow down and get disrupted during the holiday season, but in healthcare work manages to pick right up. As everyone prepares for their big meals, the CDC is monitoring a multistate outbreak of multidrug-resistant Salmonella infections linked to raw turkey products. Then there’s the travel. More than 50 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more this year, that’s nearly five percent more compared to 2017, which is why AAA puts out the warning for extra patience and safety on the roads. Then, there’s the cooking. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates 1300 kitchen fires on Thanksgiving compared to about 400 on the other days of the year.
Doctors, nurses, all caregivers don’t really get a break this time of year. Medline asked our on-staff clinicians what they remember about being a clinician on Thanksgiving, and ways healthcare facilities and systems can remember the caregiver.
Holidays with a CNO
Martie Moore, RN, MAOM, CPHQ: I’ll never forget when I was on call for the hospital, and we had an event that required me to go in just as I was getting ready to cook dinner. Eight hours later, the turkey finally went into the oven and we ended up having a very late Thanksgiving. My family spent the time that I was at the hospital, watching movies, playing games and raiding what was prepared in the refrigerator. While I felt bad that we had such a late dinner, they felt it was a fun day and truly what the holiday was about.
Communal dinners in a hospital are no longer supported due to infection control and fire safety codes, but there was a time many years ago where we did a progressive dinner with each department contributing a certain part of the Thanksgiving meal. My department was accountable for desserts. We had pies, cakes and cookies in the staff lounge. I loved seeing people from all over the hospital as they came for treats.
Martie’s Advice: Working during the holidays is about connecting with others. Remember that while you’re not with your family, you are with people who you share so much with every day. Thanksgiving is not about the actual date, but about reminding ourselves what and who we hold dear in our hearts. Eating a Thanksgiving dinner from the hospital cafeteria and where loved ones are at, can still be accomplished through FaceTime, Skype and other apps that allow us to be connected no matter the time zone, or location.
Dining in the ER
Jay Hamilton-Roque, BSN, RN, TNS, CEN: No one wants to work on holidays. You’re leaving friends, family and food. Yet, it’s an everyday reality for healthcare workers. Luckily as our caregivers step into their respective units they are often greeted with friends, work family and so much food.
My units would often flood the break room with decorations, music, and seemingly endless holiday goodies. When it wasn’t busy we would sit around and swap stories of the year, and when the pace picked up food plates were made and secured for busy staff members. Few things were as sacred on my unit as a holiday meal plate with a paper towel with a staff members name draped over it.
Jay’s Advice: My advice to caregivers on the holiday is to remember that you are not forgotten. The world is not moving on without you on these days. It moves because of your work on this day and all others.
Special Times in a Specialty Role
Margaret Falconio-West, BSN, RN, APN/CNS, CWOCN: I actually never worked a scheduled Thanksgiving. I started in a specialty role early in my career and have worked on-call during the holidays. I do understand that year-round clinicians are trying to find a balanced life.
Margaret’s Advice: Be flexible and schedule accordingly. It also helps to have a family/friend group that will pitch-in and help with the preparation and cleanup. I know many nurses who alternate their holidays. If they work on Thanksgiving, they focus on Christmas for their “big” holiday and if they are going to work on Christmas, their “big” holiday is Thanksgiving.
We also have to remember the patients and what they’re thinking about during the holidays. They don’t want to be in the hospital. Usually there is a smaller team working, most elective procedures are not scheduled on the holiday and no one wants to be “sick” on the holiday. It is always nice to see the family and friends visit, and their delivery of treats or that cafeteria meal. For those without visitors, it is a great opportunity to spend more time with the patients. Remember, it’s not about the fancy meals, but giving thanks for what we have and enjoying the people around us.
Precious Moments in Critical Care
Angela Zuick, RN, BSN, CCRN, VA-BC: I worked a lot of thanksgivings. It was great spending time with patients who maybe didn’t have families that could come visit them that day. I always made sure to put on the parade and football games.
We always made sure to have our own potluck. If the census was down and staff was able to stay home, we would make sure to take turns or call the other to see if we could split the shift.
Angela’s Advice: Always remember we are thankful for you, the work you do and for taking time away from your families to take care of ours.
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