Missing family can be hardest part of working on Christmas


Pictured left to right are Tecumseh Police officer Tom Gilbert, and Herrick Hospital clerk Olivia Deciantis and nurse Cinnamon Bernardo. Photos by Mary Kay McPartlin.

Working on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day is more common than people realize. According to a 2014 poll by Allstate/Heartland Monitor, 25 percent of Americans work on the holidays, with an additional 20 percent stating there is a possibility they will have to work on at least one of the holidays.

Locally, public safety personnel and medical staff at hospitals are at work on the holidays. Tom Gilbert is one of two Tecumseh Police officers working on Christmas Day.

“It’s usually very quiet,” Gilbert said.

In addition to a dispatcher, there are two or three officers on patrol for the day and night shifts. The officers keep an eye on the city, but usually the most serious issue is a random alarm going off at a business, according to Gilbert.

During the day the officers will check in briefly with their families, with the blessing of Police Chief Troy Stern.

Working on a holiday is part of the job for those who staff local hospitals. Olivia Deciantis is a unit clerk for the critical care unit at ProMedica Bixby Hospital and Cinnamon Bernardo is a RN at Bixby, who also worked at ProMedica Herrick Hospital. Both women were scheduled to work 12-hour shifts on Christmas Day in the critical care unit.

Hospital life is quieter on holidays, with as many patients discharged as possible so they can be home for the holidays. There is less staff in the building and less activity within the hospital.

With fewer people working, the staff tends to bond more on holidays. The cafeteria usually offers a free holiday lunch or dinner for people working on Christmas.”

“It makes us closer as a team,” Bernardo said.

Decorations are up in the units to make the atmosphere feel more festive. The nurses wear holiday scrubs and special accessories.

“Our patients like to see us dressed up,” said Bernardo. “We like to do whatever we can to make them happy.”

Missing family on the holiday is the biggest challenge for people who have to work. Bernardo finds sometimes she is distracted wondering what her family is doing back at home, and she suspects the same distraction is felt by the patients she cares for on the holiday.

Deciantis’ son is too young to understand why Santa comes to their house a day early. She knows an explanation will be necessary in the future, but right now is thankful her son is fine with Santa’s early delivery.

Bernardo stays focused on why she chose her career. “I absolutely love my job,” Bernardo said. “People don’t want to be sick on the holidays. It’s hard to see people here being sick.”


Tecumseh Herald


110 E. Logan St.
P.O. Box 218
Tecumseh, MI 49286

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