Holiday Excitement in Emergency

15 December 2023 | Expected time to read: 4 minutes

Westmead Emergency Department staff

Every year, there are a selfless group of individuals who don't spend Christmas Day with their families and loved ones but are instead working inside the halls of hospitals across Australia. With the Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation Christmas Appeal underway, we wanted to highlight those health professionals who dedicate their Christmas Day to giving sick kids the brightest Christmas possible.  

Nurses like Amanda care for the kids who come through the doors of The Children's Hospital at Westmead Emergency Department every Holiday period.

“We try to make it special for the kids, so we really get into the Christmas Spirit at work, even though we're quite busy, even on Christmas Day,” says Amanda.  

Amanda has been working at The Children's Hospital at Westmead for the last 11 years since emigrating from London and has worked 10 of the last 11 Christmases.  

“Most of the time, we wear our Christmas scrubs and hats. Anything to make you look festive. Obviously, being a hospital, regardless of what a child comes in with, especially between 4 to 10 years old, you can see it in their eyes that they don't want to be there,” Amanda recalls.  

This Christmas, Amanda is looking forward to once again decorating the Christmas Tree in the Emergency Department. While Triage can't always be the most festive, once a child goes from Triage into the Emergency Department, they are treated to a festive scene unlike any other to brighten their spirits.  

Additionally, the nurses and doctors across Sydney Children's Hospitals Network get to play Santa to cheer up the kids and their parents who are disappointed to be in hospital during the most wonderful time of the year.  

“If a child is actually there on Christmas Eve going into Christmas morning, we will put a Christmas present on the end of their bed so that it's there ready when they wake up. Santa has come in the night. Santa has visited them in hospital, so the Christmas spirit is still there for them, so they still think they're not missing out.” 

Amanda, her colleagues and Santa

Amanda recalled a five-day-old baby who was treated on Christmas Day a few years ago with a fever requiring an automatic 48-hour stay in hospital. While the mother was at first upset about having to spend her first Christmas with her newborn in hospital, Amanda reassured her she did the right thing by bringing her newborn baby into the Emergency Department.  

“As we were leaving to take the baby to the ward, the mother thanked me, and she said, ‘Thanks for reassuring me that I did the right thing because I felt like I should have stayed at home for the rest of my family. But now I realise that I'll get to spend more Christmases with her.'" 

"So that was quite nice. Sometimes it's just the appreciation of the parents and the kids for what you're doing for them on Christmas Day. A lot of parents will say thank you for sacrificing and giving up your Christmas to come in and help them.” 

Amanda always wanted to work in paediatrics because of the chance to be a bit silly. While she loves the importance of treating critically ill children, she appreciates the joy she can bring working Christmas Day.  

“You're allowed to be silly at times, as well as being serious when you have to, but you can jump around and sing with them and dance with them and just be jolly. And they like that, and the parents appreciate it too,” Amanda says joyfully.  

The fun doesn't stop on the Emergency Department floor.  Amanda celebrates Christmas every year with her "second family”, where everyone cooks and brings in something for a Christmas feast, even if they can't all sit down together to eat.  

We always make a meal, and rather than bring chips and dips and snacks in, we always actually cook a meal. I always make lasagna, and if you ask anybody at work, they'll be like Amanda makes a really good lasagna. I usually make three big lasagnas for everyone, and we will all just pop into the conference room to eat when we have a chance because, by the time lunchtime comes around, we're usually quite busy,” Amanda shared.  

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Amanda, her colleagues and Santa

When asked why people should donate to Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation Christmas Appeal she focused on the children who come into her Emergency Department and everything they have to go through.  

“Kids in hospital have gone through a lot and had to deal with, more than what any kid really should have to deal with. These kids are so resilient. Sometimes, you forget what they've actually gone through and how they've coped really well with it.” 

“Your donations and support are a fantastic way of just recognising that and making them feel special.” 

“Your donations will help patients and families in a long way to be able to provide some normality when they do eventually get home.” 

To find out more about Sydney Children's Hospitals Foundation Christmas Appeal, or donate, visit www.schf.org.au/xmas23 

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