Victoria nurse gives the gift of taking a shift

Staff will be hard at it in View Royal's Victoria General Hospital tomorrow

Olivia Sabnal

In the true spirit of Christmas, Olivia Sabnal offered to work Christmas Day so her co-worker could spend the day with family.

The registered nurse at Victoria General Hospital will be spending Christmas Day, Dec. 25, working in the emergency room from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“This is my fourth Christmas I am working,” said Sabnal.

This year she wasn’t scheduled to work on the holiday, but offered to because she doesn’t have any children and her family is in the Philippines.

Her husband has promised to bring her some turkey though.

“Most golf courses offer free golf on Christmas so my husband will spend the day golfing,” Sabnal said. “If I wasn’t working I’d be golfing too.”

Working at the hospital on Christmas is always a very busy day and Sabnal is preparing herself for a very long day.

Each year starting Dec. 20 until New Year’s Day the ER gets pretty busy, recalls Sabnal.

“For the whole year it’s the busiest time here,” Sabnal said.  “It never fails it’s always packed.”

Often people arrive at the ER expecting to be in-and-out, but with all other clinics in the city closed, the hospital becomes very busy.

The ER is fully staffed ready to care for people in need, but Sabnal wants people to know the most serious cases are handled first.

“The most difficult cases are people who don’t have family and come in when they are really sick. We also get people who are away from family and have mental health issues. The suicide rates are high,” said the nurse adding heart attacks, strokes and overdoses are also common on Christmas.

Sometimes babies are brought to the ER with upset stomachs after being fed foods such as mash potatoes before they are ready to consume them.


“New Year’s is more mechanical with cuts, burns and falls,” she added. “This is a time of year when people are really sick, it’s good if you wait until the 28th or after to see a doctor. If you are able to complain about the wait you are not sick enough to be here.”



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