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On Christmas, Cortlandt Nurses Lift Patients' Spirits

Courtney Schilio, second from right, with her colleagues at Hudson Valley Hospital Center.
Courtney Schilio, second from right, with her colleagues at Hudson Valley Hospital Center. Photo Credit: Provided

CORTLANDT, N.Y. – Some jobs are never done. As the holidays come and go, restaurants can choose to stay open, hotels may have guests, and retailers may extend their hours. Hospitals, however, are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Nurses at Hudson Valley Hospital Center say rearranging their holiday schedule is made worthwhile because of thankful patients and camaraderie.

"Patients, especially on the holidays, always react very positively. They're always very thankful. They know it's hard for everybody," said Courtney Schilio, a registered nurse working on Christmas at the hospital. She has worked at the hospital for 11 years and has practiced as a nurse for 17.

Because Hudson Valley is a "community hospital," its units often serve multiple needs. For example, the floor Schilio works on serves as a surgical floor, telemetry or patient monitoring floor, and, at times, a pediatric floor.

Nurses at the hospital typically work 12-hour shifts, three days per week. Shifts are either night or day shift.

"People think, you work the holidays, it's awful, and you're going to work grudgingly, but it's not. I work with wonderful, wonderful people. We make it work," Schilio said.

Matthew Raneletta, another registered nurse working on Christmas Day at Hudson Valley, said patients can "lose their independence" when they're in the hospital.

"Trying to lift the spirits does well for the patients," he said.

"There is that air of, 'It's Christmas, I'm in the hospital,' and we try to do our best to get the families in the hospital," Raneletta said. "There is a little extra energy that's spent to make sure there's somebody to come visit, an extra call to the family to see if somebody's coming."

If no family can come, nurses sometimes call a chaplain to visit the patient.

"There's just an air, of it's a special day and everybody knows it," Raneletta said.

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