Book review - Health & Living - Christmas on the ward

For nurses and midwives, working the Christmas shift is all part of the job, and while it is tough on family life, it can also be truly rewarding.

During my time at Tullamore General Hospital, I worked on a children’s ward. One year, I was put on night duty on Christmas eve. There were only a few children being cared for on the ward that night – they were too ill to go home for Christmas. One of the children, a little boy, had been in an horrific car crash a few months before Christmas.

As luck would have it, I was the nurse sent in the ambulance from the hospital to collect him at the crash scene. He had been helping his parents cut the grass just outside his house at the road side when the collision occurred. I got to know this young boy fairly well in the next few months.

On Christmas eve, everything was quiet in the hospital – the fairy lights were sparkling and there was a nice ‘Christmassy’ feel in the ward.

Kay Garvey, a telephone triage nurse with MIDOC in Athlone, shares her memories of working on a children’s ward on Christmas eve

The children were asleep in their beds and cots when Santa walked in brandishing toys and goodies for them. It was such a nice surprise and brought the spirit of Christmas to the children and to me! Santa never made a sound!

Our Santa was a local country singer who had wanted to do his bit for the children after a gig. But, he didn’t want anyone to know about the surprise! He even brought chocolates for the night nurse!

My own children were teenagers at the time and once I was home for breakfast and the opening of the presents, they were okay about my Christmas shifts. When you work as a nurse or midwife you juggle work, home and family as best as you can.

Working over the Christmas period means that you have to do a lot in advance in order to have everything ready and prepared for the big day. I usually stuffed the turkey before getting to bed after my shift, but I was lucky that my husband enjoyed being in the kitchen, preparing and sorting things for Christmas dinner. He would bring our boys to midnight mass and get the batteries organised for their new toys after they went to bed.

I hope all of you enjoy the festive season whether you are working or not. Nollaig shona duit to all in the INMO and to nurses and midwives everywhere!

– Kay Garvey
Telephone triage nurse, MIDOC, Athlone

Book review - Health & Living - Christmas on the ward


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