MANY of us are getting ready to wind down and switch off as we get ready for Christmas day.
We look forward to clocking out of work, swapping our morning cereal for a sneaky selection box and browsing the TV guide for our favourite festive films.
But as you celebrate with your family and friends this weekend, spare a thought for the staff at Letterkenny University Hospital who will be on duty over the holidays, looking after the needs of the local community.
Included in their numbers are the men and women of the catering department who will ensure that patients and staff alike are well fed and nourished over the coming days and weeks.
Mark Duffy, Catering Manager at LUH, explained that their team serve up to 1,800 meals a day to patients. On top of that they also feed up to 600 staff and this Christmas day looks to be no different.
Mark explained that in previous years things might have got a bit quieter over the holidays, but not this year.
“This year we haven’t seen things winding down, with the emergency department so busy, and all of the wards are busy too,” he said.
Johnny McGinty is a catering assistant in Surgical 2 at LUH. He will be on the clock this Christmas, on his ward he will help care for up to 39 patients.
Johnny has worked his fair share of Christmases over the years, but he doesn’t mind. He explained that his favourite part of the day is “just having the craic with the patients”.
To make their day extra special he said he will be rocking a Christmas tie and Santa hat.
“Patients don’t want to be here, but unfortunately they are here, so we have to make an effort to make it a bit different to any other day,” he said.
The patients will be served a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, including a starter and dessert.
At home the most we might worry about is preparing the trifle and peeling potatoes on Christmas Eve, but at LUH the preparations for the big day get underway from as early as September, when the chefs get started on their delicious homemade Christmas pudding.
The whole team go all out for the holiday. On the day there will be choirs and Christmas crackers, but there is much more that goes on behind the scenes.
Johnny explained how they must meticulously care for each patient’s individual needs and conditions. Catering staff are fully briefed on the wide range of dietary requirements and carefully manage each of them.
Mark praised and thanked all of the staff for their hard work throughout the year.
“They put in a lot of effort, an acute hospital setting is a very busy environment for everybody. I wish them all a merry Christmas and a happy new year,” he said.