Thanksgiving is Often No Holiday in the Emergency Room

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Turkey, stuffing and a department full of sick and injured patients - that's the life of a medical professional on Thanksgiving Day at St. Luke's Hospital, where getting the day off on a holiday is obsolete when you're in the business of saving lives.

"Somebody has to be here. Unfortunately somebody has to work and we will do it," said St. Luke's emergency room nurse Lisa Heck. Since becoming an ER nurse at St. Luke's seven years ago, Heck has worked all of the major holidays multiple times. She says that she'd rather be at home with family and friends, but she'll work 12 hours on Thanksgiving Day just in case things get dicey.

"A lot of overeating. People come in and they have gall bladder attacks, or they have congestive heart failure and they just ate ten pounds of salt laden food. They're swelling and they can't breathe. People chop their fingers because they've been cutting all day and preparing their food," said Heck of the litany of ailments she sees over the holidays.

Dr. Gary Gaddis, an ER doctor at St. Luke's, says that for some of his patients, the Turkey Day pains continue through the weekend as some people continue to gorge themselves on leftovers.

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should," said Dr. Gaddis. "There's lots of things people do that aren't necessarily the greatest idea. Whether it's over indulging on Thanksgiving, whether it's going up on a ladder where maybe you're old enough and shouldn't."

But Dr. Gaddis and his staff say that if the worst happens and you need help - be it on a holiday or in the middle of the night - he and others in hospitals across the metro will be there to help.

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