Einstein Emergency Staff Prep for Christmas Illnesses and Injuries
The preparations are underway; the festivities will soon begin. And amidst the pursuit of holiday cheer, the damage will certainly ensue—the knife that goes awry cutting the turkey; the chest pain that persists; the bones that snap on an icy sidewalk. Which is to say: there will be visits to the hospital emergency department.
Erin Sabolick will be there, waiting. So will Serge Simpson, and dozens of other doctors, nurses, residents, nurse practitioners, technicians, physician assistants, and clerks who’ll be working Christmas and New Year’s at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia for the patients who’ll make an unfortunate detour there.
On a normal day, nearly 300 people are treated in the Emergency Department, according to Dr. Michael Kowalski, director of emergency medicine at Einstein Philadelphia. Christmas Day is actually slower because only the most acutely ill, or lonely, people want to go to the hospital that day. The day after Christmas, however, often makes up for the lull.
So, then, while others spend the holidays with family and friends, feasting and watching football, the medical folks will be in their scrubs and uniforms at work. And, to hear Erin Sabolick tell it, at least, they don’t really mind.
After a traditional Christmas Eve party at her Rittenhouse Square home, and after a traditional Christmas Day breakfast there, too, Dr. Sabolick will leave for work: she’ll leave behind her mom and grandmom, her sister and brother-in-law and their children, and most importantly, her husband and their 15-month-old son.
“It’s an honor and a privilege that other people entrust me with their lives, and that feeling is amplified during the holiday season.”—Erin Sabolick, DO
She’s OK with it.
“Obviously, I love my time at home, but I love my job,” she said. “It’s an honor and a privilege that other people entrust me with their lives, and that feeling is amplified during the holiday season. I love my son and I hope eventually he knows his mom is leaving him to go help people.”
Perhaps every department in the hospital fosters a deep connection between people who work there; caring for sick patients requires a certain shared calling. But the feeling of family is especially true in emergency work because of the intensity and immediacy of what the teams do.
“There’s a special camaraderie in the Emergency Department because of the special situations we’re always placed in,” Dr. Sabolick said. “We’re always leaning on each other. We work together in highly stressful situations.”
Dr. Simpson agrees.
“The camaraderie is intense because we really don’t work well unless we’re working together,” he said. “Things fall apart quickly if even one person isn’t pulling their load without being asked to do so. People correct themselves in the ED.”
Dr. Simpson will get to open gifts on Christmas morning, and have breakfast with his wife and two young sons. Then he’ll leave for the day. “I get to watch the exciting part and I get to leave before the clean-up,” he joked. While he regrets not being home to make holiday memories with his youngest son, who’s six years old, Dr. Simpson said Einstein is “a special place to work.”
“Everybody takes care of each other,” he said. “We’re all in it together.”
We’ll be at the hospital, too, this year, for a special report about what the holidays are like in the ED.