On call: Nurse, business owner talk working on the holidays

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Newborn babies don’t follow a labor or delivery schedule on holidays. No one knows that better than Gina Salem.

A maternity nurse at Riverview Health, Salem said the hospital follows a holiday rotation, so this year she worked on Thanksgiving but will have Christmas off.

“We did have a baby born on Thanksgiving, and we had moms in labor, and then they delivered the next day,” Salem said. “When it comes to maternity, I think they try not to schedule as many around the holiday, but moms who are naturally in labor or need labor (come in).”

Salem also works triage in the emergency room on holidays.

“Sometimes, a family is involved in a car accident on a holiday and the mom is pregnant,” she said.

Salem works a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. Her extended family lives in Chicago, so if she works a holiday, she doesn’t travel to celebrate.

“They know that. They know it’s my holiday this year,” she said. “My dad and I will make plans to meet halfway sometimes before or sometimes after to exchange gifts.”

In preparation for Christmas, Salem said those who work the holidays usually get their shopping done and presents wrapped early.

“Sometimes, you extend your holiday a little bit. My kids never minded that because it seemed like Christmas lasted forever,” she said. “When you know what you’re working, you plan ahead for nights. If I had to work Christmas, we celebrate in the morning. I take a later nap and be up for work. My father-in-law is local, so my husband would take the kids and I stayed home and got ready for work.”

Her family typically saves her a plate from holiday dinner and brings it home for her to enjoy the next day. 

When her children, now ages 12 and 18, were younger, Salem said she had to be creative.

“If I worked Christmas Eve, my husband had to be the one who was ready for Santa,” she said.

Working in the service industry 

Employees in the service industry often have to work holidays, too. Noble Coffee & Tea co-owner Robyn Littler opened the coffee shop on Thanksgiving morning because the Michael Treinen Foundation conducted its annual Turkey Trot 5K run and 3K walk through downtown Noblesville, and few other stores were open. The foundation assists individuals and their families affected by cancer.

“We’ve never been open for Thanksgiving, and I knew the turkey trot took place that day, and we donated part of our sales that day (to the foundation),” Littler said. “It was really busy, and there were hundreds of people here. There weren’t a lot of places open on the square.”

Littler said she is unsure if Noble Coffee & Tea will open for Thanksgiving again next year. The store will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Christmas Eve but will be closed on Christmas.

Riverview Health maternity nurse Gina Salem cares for a newborn baby.

Celebrating at work

In an attempt to bring the holiday spirit to the workplace, maternity nurse Gina Salem said sometimes people co-workers plan to celebrate at Riverview Health.

“Someone might send an email about a pitch-in or bring cookies or candy for Halloween,” she said. “People might just bring in stuff for people to eat and snack on and just try to keep the spirit going for the patients. You have to try to keep them up because it’s bittersweet for them. They’re excited to meet their new baby, but at the same time, if they have other children, they have to manage the holidays now.”

Salem said one year, she had patients who babies on Thanksgiving send their husbands out for Black Friday shopping.

“We are all adapting with the holidays, especially if the baby came sooner than they had figured,” Salem said. “Patients are always grateful for you to give your time to be there for a holiday.”




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