Christmas at UCLH 

22/12/2016 00:00 
While you are unwrapping your presents, tucking into turkey and watching the telly, it will be business as usual at UCLH.  Here, seven members of staff describe how they will be spending Christmas Day.

Ana Veloso - nursing assistant, acute medical unit

Ana tries to make every day like Christmas. “I love Christmas – I am a Christmas person. I love the sense of togetherness, support and kindness and try to embrace it all year round. But Christmas Day is extra-special. We put up decorations, the nurses wear hats and earrings and the patients are given presents. They even have turkey to eat – with a Christmas napkin. Everyone has Christmas at UCLH.”

Ana, who will have her own Christmas meal on Christmas Eve, ahead of a 12-hour shift the next day, says that patients who would normally be alone particularly appreciate the festivities. “I really appreciate the fact that I can be of service on Christmas Day - I feel honoured to work it.”

Imtiaz Ali – porter

“I love to work on Christmas Day. Everyone is happy. Patients that might be feeling down normally are upbeat. They are relaxed and happy and I like that I play a part in that."

Imtiaz has worked for Interserve at University College Hospitals London NHS Foundation Trust for seven years and worked every Christmas. He said: “Although I do not celebrate Christmas as I am Muslim, I appreciate that religious celebrations are important and I will always offer to work over the festive period. It’s great to work for an organisation where I feel supported in my work and beliefs, especially when it comes to my religious festivals such as Eid and Ramadan.”

 Wendy Sandajan - senior nurse, critical care unit

“When you say you work in critical care, people expect doom and gloom. But there is another side to critical care and it can be very festive. Sometimes we have a table full of gifts from patients’ families. They appreciate what we are doing for their loved ones and that gives us great satisfaction.”

Wendy, who is from the Philippines, and has worked in the critical care unit for 15 years, said: “It is a very multicultural unit – staff from many different countries work here and it is like a home away from home. It is nice to have that feeling.”

The fun starts on Christmas Eve, with a tea party, followed by a cooked breakfast on Christmas morning. Christmas evening brings another feast, staff wear Christmas hats and patients who are well enough to celebrate receive a small present. Wendy said: “The unit is like my second family. You are at work but you are with family as well.”

Michaela Davies - senior clinical site manager

Michaela will have two Christmases. “I celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve because my partner is half Danish. We’ll have dinner and then open our presents. Then, on Christmas Day, I’ll have some festive snacks with my colleagues while at work.”

Michaela, who has been with the trust for 15 years, manages around 350 beds in University College Hospital, making sure the right patient is in the right bed at the right time. She said: “In essence, Christmas isn’t any different to any other day. Patients still come in through A&E, patients will still need to be admitted and patients will still need to be discharged.

“But it is generally quieter. Many patients will have got home in the run up to Christmas and some will be discharged on Christmas Day."

Bibi Parwin – nursing assistant, care of the elderly

Bibi is looking forward to her first Christmas at UCLH. “I don’t really celebrate Christmas but because it is a holiday, my family usually gathers at my brother’s house. I plan to pop in after I finish work in the evening.

“Most of the patients would like to be at home but their health means they have to be here. When they live alone and don’t have any family, it is better for them to be with us. It is like they are with friends.”

Aamod Nawathe - senior registrar, obstetrics and gynaecology

As Christmas Day approaches in the maternity unit, everyone is watching the clock. “As it gets closer to 12 the tension starts to mount as to which side of midnight the delivery is going to be. But being born on Christmas Eve is still special.”

Dr Nawathe hopes to have some turkey for dinner before clocking on for a night shift at 8pm on Christmas Day. From past experience, there will be plenty of food, lots of smiles and time will “just fly by”.

Staff in the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing will also see mums-to-be who turn up to the maternal-foetal assessment unit because they are worried about their baby’s health. Dr Nawathe said: “When a woman decides to leave her family behind on Christmas Day and come in here, rather than wait a day or two, it shows she is really concerned.”

Lucky Antony - security and reception (not pictured)

Lucky will spend Christmas Day at trust headquarters. “It will be quieter than usual but there will still be some staff in the building and I will be responsible for their health and safety. “Everyone will be in a good mood but I need to stay alert and make sure everybody is OK, even on Christmas Day.”

Lucky, who has worked for Guarding UK at UCLH for seven years, said: “After I finish my shift, I will go home and maybe start my own celebrations, before heading back to work on Monday.”

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