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Holiday Lessons at the Hospital

Terri Polick | NursingLink

November 19, 2010

Holiday Cheer Begins with Listening

Holiday Lessons

One of the best ways of getting through the holidays is by listening to your sick patients. A few years ago, I was caring for a mentally challenged boy who was about 16 years old. He had been in the hospital a long time because his family was unable to care for him at home anymore. His parents were distraught about their circumstances—they were homeless—so they never came to visit their son at the hospital.

As Christmas drew near, the nursing staff noticed a change in our young patient’s demeanor. He became more quiet and solemn, so I asked him what was going on. He said that he was afraid that Santa wouldn’t give him presents because he had been bad. When I asked him what he had done wrong he said that he didn’t know, but that it must have been something really terrible because his family didn’t want him anymore. We sat and talked about his situation and I reassured him that he had done nothing wrong and that his family still loved him very much. Then I pulled out a pen and a piece of paper from my pocket and we wrote a letter to Santa Claus. My patient made his Christmas wish list, and I hung it in the staff lounge before I went home.

The next day, one of the other staff members brought in an artificial Christmas tree and helped our patient make paper Christmas decorations for the tree. The staff bought everything on the patient’s wish list, and within a week we were ready for Santa’s arrival. I’ll never forget the look on my patients face when he discovered his gifts on Christmas morning. He was so happy that Santa thought he was a good boy, and that he hadn’t been forgotten during the holidays!

The Lesson: Listening to your patients will make them feel better and open the door to your own holiday cheer.

Next: Working Through the Holidays >>

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