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Working Christmas? It’s All About Sharing the Load

December 26, 2018
Tammy Potzner, 49, worked the Christmas shift at Lowell General Hospital.

LOWELL -- Who volunteers to work on Christmas? Unless you’re Jewish -- like this reporter -- and don’t observe the holiday, then it begs the question: Why?

For Tammy Potzner at Lowell General Hospital, she steps up on Christmas to return the favor from many years ago when colleagues covered her shift, so she could enjoy the day with her young kids.

“People always did it for me before,” Potzner, 49, said in the hospital’s lobby on Tuesday.

Fast-forward to today, and her two boys are now 18 and 15 years old.

“Now it’s time to pay it forward,” she said. “So others can spend the day with their little ones.”

The unit secretary in Lowell General Hospital’s Intermediate Care Unit at the Varnum Avenue campus worked the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Christmas shift, as she has done for the last eight years.

At a hospital, which is open around the clock, employees have to rotate working different holidays and make sacrifices throughout the year.

“We all have to take our turns,” said Potzner, who lives in Pelham, N.H.

While she wasn’t with her family on Christmas Day, they were able to enjoy time together on Christmas Eve. She said her sons were probably lounging around Tuesday and playing the video games they opened Monday night.

There was no shortage of food and sweets at the hospital on Tuesday, Potzner said. Discharged patients send over treats, and staff brings in food as well.

“There’s a different feel starting in the days before,” she said of the hospital mood. “People walking around in holiday get-ups. The staff is much happier, even though they’re working a holiday.

“It’s the patients who are not happy stuck in the hospital on Christmas,” she added.

Tuesday morning was pretty quiet at the hospital, she said.

The only negative: Both Dunkin’ Donuts were closed for Christmas.

“We’ll survive,” she said before chuckling.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun.

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