Working on the holidays


CHAMPAIGN-URBANA — Many can count on Christmas as a day to relax and be with loved ones, but others don’t have much of a choice – they have to work.

Steve Hopkins and Debra Inman have a few things in common. Both help people during emergencies, and they both work on Christmas.

“Somebody’s got to be here,” says Lt. Hopkins. “This rig behind me here has been out twice today.” 

Make that three. Minutes after he said that, these firefighters left on a medical call. Still Hopkins says this Christmas got off to a slow start. Debra Inman says it was pretty similar at Carle Hospital.

She says, “It was really busy yesterday, the day before Christmas, because everybody wanted to be home for Christmas. So we worked really hard to get everybody out in a timely fashion.”

That’s the main part of her job as a nurse case manager, which she’s fairly new at. But she’s had enough experience to know what to expect on the 25th.

“I have been working Christmas for I think 25 years now. I sort of planned my life around working Christmas.”

It means celebrating with her family some other day before or after. It might sound like an inconvenience, but Inman says she and others working realize they aren’t the only people in the building.

Inman says, “Spiritually this is a very important day for a lot of patients, and are they feeling bad because they think they are causing trouble for their families or are they feeling sad and lonely because they can’t be at home. So we try to give them extra attention and love and care.” 

Inman says it’s not unusual for nurses to give their patients gifts around the holidays. Whether it’s in a fire station or a hospital, the workers try to make the best of it for everyone around.

“We try to make it special for our patients as well as just kind of keep the morale up with each other,” she says.

Hopkins says, “We work on Christmas, but we are happy to do it.” 

Kids who woke up at Carle today got a nice surprise. This morning they were allowed to pick out a present from under the tree in the pediatrics unit. Inman says that kind of thing happens every year around the holidays.

Some people may have to work today, but the good news is they have a job. New numbers from the state’s department of employment security show Illinois’ unemployment rate is higher than the national rate in all but a few areas. Over the last year, Illinois businesses added jobs in eight places. 2,1000 new jobs were added in Champaign-Urbana, but jobs were lost in six different places. The city of Decatur is down about a thousand jobs.


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