Nurses on Christmas

Constance Rickey (left) goes over patient information with Heather Brown during their shift change at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital.

By Kim Jansen

News Report Staff

If given a choice, few would choose to work on Christmas Day.

And on the same note, few would choose to be sick and in the hospital on Christmas Day.

But, the staff members at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham make the best of their Christmas shifts, in hopes of bringing holiday cheer to their patients.

Kristin Perkins, of Effingham, who is a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, will be working this Christmas, but she and her husband of five years have learned to celebrate around her 12-hour shifts at the hospital.

“We have to work around it, so we usually will have something on Christmas Eve or find a time around Christmas,” said Perkins.

Perkins added this year is a little tricky because her mother, Diana Fuesting, is also a CNA at the hospital and will be working Christmas Eve.

“We will work it out,” said Perkins, who added she is an only child, which makes it easier when finding a time for her family to celebrate.

Having spent the past 10 years working the holiday shifts, Perkins said she makes the best out of it.

“When people are sick, no matter if it is a holiday or not, you still have to take care of them,” she said. “No one wants to be sick on Christmas or during the holidays, but we are here for them when they are.”

Registered Nurses, Heather Brown, of Mattoon, and Constance Rickey, of Effingham, will be working 8-hour shifts on Christmas.

Brown’s family lives in the St. Louis area, so she plans to visit her parents before Christmas and then hopes to spend time with local friends on Christmas Day, after she gets off of work.

“My parents understand it,” said Brown, whose father worked in a hospital. “They know how it is.”

Rickey will be able to spend Christmas morning with her husband and four children before heading out to her 3 p.m. shift.

“They understand I have to go to work,” said Rickey.

Rickey’s family will be coming to her house at noon for Christmas dinner, and with Rickey having to leave for work, she said her husband will take over host duties.

“My husband will host when I leave, then I hope to get home to a clean house,” she added with a laugh.

Both Brown and Rickey hope to brighten spirits while they are at work.

“I don’t mind being here,” said Brown. “Nobody wants to be here, everybody wants to be with their family, so you just make the best of it and help everyone have a good day and celebrate Christmas with everyone who is here.”

Brown added the staff members make the day fun by bringing in Potluck-style dishes and exchanging Secret Santa gifts.

“We just have a good time,” said Brown.

All the nurses agreed they knew that working holidays was in the job description when they decided on careers in the health field.

“I knew going into it that my schedule would be all over the place. I expected it, and I work around it and do what I have to do,” said Brown. “There is an understanding. It is what it is, and this is what we chose to do. We make the best of it, and we have a good time.”

Rickey added it is important for others to remember there are people working on holidays to provide much needed services, like caring for the sick.

“It is so important to be appreciative of those people who do work the holidays,” said Rickey. “Someone is caring for your mom or your dad. It is important to remember that, and I think people sometimes forget that.”