MARIETTA - While most people wouldn't want to spend all or part of their Christmas at the hospital, some don't have a choice.
It's those people about 100 Marietta Memorial Hospital employees were on hand to serve Tuesday.
"When you go into the medical field, you know you are going to have to work a holiday like this," said Phyllis Reynolds, a medical lab technician. "You can't just send people out in the streets."
When someone is hospitalized on Christmas, it generally isn't for a minor reason, said Joanie Washburn, vice president of clinical and support services. Elective procedures aren't scheduled, and staff members are well aware most folks would rather be with loved ones.
"We try to get them home with their family," said nursing supervisor Denise Young.
For those who did remain in the hospital on Christmas, Young said she saw quite a few families coming to visit.
Inpatients at the hospital numbered about 70 Tuesday, not counting folks who came to the emergency department for everything from kids with fevers to holiday dinner-related injuries.
"Lots of times we'll see burns, a little bit more burns," said Dr. Terry Carr, attending physician for the emergency department.
"It's usually taking a big ham or a big turkey out of the oven."
Sometimes, people will come for what most would describe as a minor complaint, Carr said, but they have an ulterior motive - they live by themselves and are lonely, perhaps even depressed, this time of year. The staff takes care of them as well.
"Sometimes they might get a cookie," Carr said with a smile.
It's not like there isn't enough to go around. The staff in the emergency department tries to liven up the day with food, as well as colorful attire, said Carr, sporting a Santa hat.
"We just try to feed each other and dress up a bit more for the children," she said.
The emergency department was busy on Christmas Eve, Carr said.
Part of that was due to the late-blooming influenza virus, she said, but another factor was many doctor's offices being closed and people wanting to get issues taken care of before Christmas Day.
That's what brought Lowell resident Kenna Wagner, 27, and her 9-year-old son Logan to Memorial on Monday. Wagner said her son had strep throat and she couldn't find an urgent care facility open around 8 p.m. that day.
"That (the emergency department) was the only option, and I didn't want to wait until he was deathly ill," she said.
In spite of the numerous people she saw in the emergency waiting area, Wagner said her son was taken back in a matter of minutes and they were on their way home in about an hour with enough medication to last until pharmacies would be open today.
Although a trip to the hospital isn't on many Christmas wish lists, Wagner said it didn't alter any of their holiday plans.
"I'm afraid if we wouldn't have (gone), it probably would have," she said.
Christmas morning and afternoon were not as busy as the night before, but Carr expected that to change.
"After probably about 4 or 5 o'clock this evening ... it's going to cut loose," she said, noting some people may hold off until after family activities are completed.
In the lab, Reynolds said there were fewer employees than usual Tuesday since they were primarily handling inpatient tests. She said she and her family adjust their holiday activities when her name comes up in the rotation every three years, and they've gotten used to it.
"It's OK 'cause you know you're helping somebody," she said.
That's the kind of attitude the staff at the hospital displays on Christmas, said Washburn, who came in Tuesday to show her appreciation.
"We're 24 hours a day," Washburn said.
"We couldn't do it without the employees working today, so we really feel like we can be here in person thanking them."
Washburn traveled to nursing stations, the lab, radiology, maintenance, the emergency department - and anywhere else employees had to come in on the holiday - giving out gift cards.
It's something administrators take turns doing each year, a gesture that was noticeably appreciated by employees like Lisa Elder, who embraced Washburn in the hallway.
Also receiving a card was one individual who wasn't required to be at the hospital Tuesday and wasn't being compensated for his services. Marietta resident Scott Edgerton, 50, said he was volunteering at the front desk on the first floor as a way of paying back the hospital for helping him.
"I figure, I'm not married, I don't have any kids, and this hospital, they did such a wonderful job getting me back on track after five strokes, walking and talking," he said.
Edgerton also volunteers on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year's, since his schedule is more "fluid" than some people's on those days.
"This is a time when people sometimes need just a sympathetic ear to listen to them," he said. "I've heard so many stories the last two days, I'm grateful for where I am in my recovery."