Holiday fails to mean time off for many area workers

Some spend Thanksgiving on the clock rather than at the table

Chuck Johnson, registered nurse at Callaway Community Hospital, pulls a 12-hour shift on Thanksgiving Day. Many residents have jobs that require them to work the holiday.

Chuck Johnson, registered nurse at Callaway Community Hospital, pulls a 12-hour shift on Thanksgiving Day. Many residents have jobs that require them to work the holiday. Photo by Mandi Steele.

Though banks, schools and most government offices and businesses close for Thanksgiving, there are many workers who don’t get the luxury of taking off for Turkey Day.

As Chuck Johnson, registered nurse at Callaway Community Hospital, soothes a crying newborn in the obstetrics department Thursday, he explains that he knew going into the nursing field that working holidays just came with the territory.

“Nursing is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job,” Johnson said. “We have to be here to obviously make sure there’s somebody to take care of the patients.”

Johnson pulled a 12-hour shift on Thanksgiving, working the ER and also taking on the role of house supervisor — managing the hospital when the regular administrators are away.

“The ER’s always open for business,” he said. “You never know when an emergency’s going to come up.”

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