Opinion: Lost, and sometimes found, in the emergency department at Christmas

Last Christmas, I traded my cozy bed for a shift working in my hospital’s accident and emergency department. It was as packed as any other night.

In spite of the popular notion that emergencies over holiday periods tend to more accurately reflect the moniker “emergency” — if you’re well enough to open presents and stuff your face with Christmas dinner, you’re probably well enough to put off a trip to the hospital for another day or two — I encountered two distinct categories of patient, neither of which I’d categorize as emergencies. The common denominator? Lonely living environments.

The first lot I met and cared for over Christmas Eve and Christmas night came from nursing homes or sheltered housing. Shortages of workers, coupled with inexperienced and unfamiliar staff filling in for regular

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