Caring never stops
Nurses are on the job every day of the year. Critically ill patients are often not aware what day it is and Christmas Day is no exception
THE spirit of Christmas is probably never far from the average Intensive Care Unit. Even without the tinsel and Santa Claus cut-outs decorating The Townsville Hospital’s ICU this week, the unit thrives on hope.
The critically ill patients in this 17-bed ward are there as long as it takes to get well.
‘‘We can have people for three months or overnight,’’ registered nurse Amanda Krauklis said this week.
‘‘This ICU takes a large catchment area and so has a wide variety of patients.
‘‘We can never predict how many patients we will have. There is no elective surgery over Christmas.
Mrs Krauklis, a shift co-ordinator in the Townsville unit, will spend December 25 with her family this year.
But having worked three of the past five Christmas days in the unit she knows roughly how her colleagues will spend the day.
‘‘Most days in the unit are very similar — people get sick every day,’’ she said. ‘‘Christmas is just another day. ‘‘Obviously Christmas is different on the staffing side, but patients often have no idea what day it is, because they are unconscious or unwell.
‘‘The work is one-to-one with patients. You are assigned to the patient when they are unwell, you take control of all their needs.’’
Mrs Krauklis said some families were likely to spend the day with sick relatives.
‘‘We have some patients who don’t have any visitors, but generally they have someone to support them,’’ she said.
Staff, who typically work 12-hour shifts, have organised a secret Santa giftexchange and party food.
‘‘Obviously we have chosen a profession where you know you will be working shiftwork,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s hard when your family is all in Townsville, but we have a roster with options for Christmas . . . people are able to co-ordinate their time.
‘‘Christmas Day is the most important holiday for me. I really enjoy having one off.’’
In fact she has five days free and big plans to see the Boxing Day cricket Test in Melbourne.
Intensive care nurse Amanda Krauklis