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Christmas Time In the Hospital

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

December 25, 2005

Christmas is about family and giving, which is why some people work today. The staff at the University of Virginia Hospital--with the help of a man in a big red suit--made the holiday very special for patients.

The UVa hospital was filled with emotion today, especially some very excited patients when Santa delivered them a little gift.

Santa wasn't drawn by reindeer in a sleigh. He was airlifted by a helicopter known as Pegasus, which usually transports patients in serious conditions. But this was a serious case too--Santa needed to get to the hospital in time to deliver presents.

"He got to get a Beanie Baby. That was nice that he got a little present since we weren't at home to open any of his," said Sherrika Nowell, who's baby was in the hospital.

Nowell's son has been in the hospital since Thursday and said having him released today was a great Christmas present.

"It's great because it's his first Christmas and I have a 3-year-old son at home so I'm anxious to get home and open up presents with my other son," said Nowell.

Nine-year-old Rachael Jenkins is recovering from a severe case of strep throat, but that hasn't stopped her from celebrating.

"I opened some presents. [I got] a blanket and some toys," said Jenkins.

But there is one gift she wants the most, which gets her out of bed.

"[That] I can go home," said Jenkins.

So what's it like working on Christmas in a hospital?

"It's more emotional. Things seem twice as bad, but happy things seem twice as happy," said Registered Nurse Lynn Vitzthum.

It's hard working on a holiday, but Jenkins chose to pick-up this shift.

"I love it. I love the emergency room, I love the work and I don't mind at all being here on Christmas because I feel like somebody needs to be here that can give people having one of their worst days something nice," said Vitzthum.

In fact Jenkins has worked 18 Christmases as a nurse.

More than just healthcare providers are on call, however. People that work in hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and of course those that work the news.


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