Holiday Hero: Ashley Kennedy

How are the holidays different for PICU patients?

In the PICU we try to create a warm and loving environment during the holidays. Also, a lot of outside organizations come around and provide extra support and gifts leading up to the holidays. It’s a great way to allow the children to feel more at home.
PICU patients and families receive lots of extra love, considering they are stuck in the hospital during such a special time. Most facilities try hard to discharge well-patients home before Christmas. For those who are not as lucky, we will make the PICU home for them. We shower them with love, gifts, and support.

How do you make the holiday season happy for your patients?

I always buy my patients gifts. If a patient has been in long-term care, I usually buy them a more personal gift. My dad texted me last week wanting to donate $100 worth of gifts to my patients. Their ages range from 0 to 22 in PICU. I love to just sit in their rooms and watch Christmas cartoons and listen to Christmas music as if we were sitting at home. We usually enjoy Disney Channel Christmas episodes together, allowing me to be a kid again.

On Christmas Day, the hospital is full of families for those that have to celebrate within the facility. Santa will come around and provide gifts to each room, to both patients and their siblings.

What is your advice for families that are spending their holidays in the hospital with their children?

Relax and try to make the best of this stressful time. We all know the patients would rather be home; however, the main priority is making sure your child is healthy so they can enjoy many more holidays. We act as their family until they leave our care, so we’ll do our best to leave them with the biggest smiles.

What is your advice for new nurses that are working with children around the holidays?

Remain empathetic and patient. Empathy is something that we all must learn while dealing with such a delicate population and unfortunately the holidays intensify those feelings for our children. They need us to be there, and we need them as well.

What are the pros to working on the holidays?

The vibe around the hospital is a lot less stressful. Everyone walks around in a great mood, and it seems that our teamwork intensifies. We even get little gifts sometimes. Oh, how could I forget the holiday pay incentives for working on the actual holiday? That’s always a pro in my book!

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