Caring for community on Christmas Day
Christmas Day to most of us means presents, festive cheer, pinched waistbands and perhaps a cheeky afternoon nap.
However, to people such as Nikeisha Gibbons and Veronica Manderson, December 25 is just another day. Both ladies work at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, as a unit ward clerk and an emergency medical technician respectively, giving up their special day to help Bermuda to stay safe.
“It doesn't get any easier, you just get used to it and learn how to deal with it,” said Miss Gibbons, who has now worked on Christmas Day at the hospital for seven consecutive years. “The first few years, it was hard. It's difficult to get up and leave your family, you become quite the organised person.”
Miss Gibbons works as a weekend and public holiday employee, and is responsible for administrative duties such as scheduling and inputting blood work, in addition to her Monday to Friday job as a health insurance relationship manager.
What do her four children, between the ages of 17 and 22, think about her Christmas Day shift?
“They hate it! They've gotten used to it, but they miss me being there with them,” she said.
But just because she had to work an eight-hour shift on Friday, that does not mean Miss Gibbons missed out on having a big family meal at her Devonshire home.
“We had 23 people for dinner,” she said, adding that she found time to contribute two hams, stuffing and two large pans of mac and cheese to the spread.
Although Christmas Day was “relatively quiet” on the Acute Care Wing, the staff members supported one another with tasty treats and, more importantly, ensured that the patients enjoyed their day as much as possible.
“When people are sick, especially around this time, you want to make sure that they're aren't feeling abandoned or depressed,” Miss Gibbons said.
“That's what we're all here for. It helps with the healing process, so everyone tries to stay in the spirit of Christmas as much as we can.”
Ms Manderson, who marks her tenth year at the hospital next year, insists she does not mind working on the holidays.
“I do this job because I love it,” said Ms Manderson, who lives in Pembroke and has five children aged from 12 to 31.
“It's a way of giving service to the community and I take that responsibility very seriously.
“We really are our brother's keeper.
“During the holidays, people may be more generous with themselves — they may fall over because they're inebriated or they may not take their medication.
“Even if I'm not working, I keep a pair of gloves in my bag in case something happens. You're never off-duty.”