First responders making the most of 2020, continue working through the holiday

While central Virginia’s hospitals have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 to this point, the...
While central Virginia’s hospitals have not been overwhelmed by COVID-19 to this point, the growing need is forcing them to shift priorities.
Updated: Dec. 24, 2020 at 10:19 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - This year has been tough for everyone, but health care workers and first responders have made big sacrifices, and now continue to work through the holidays.

While nurses and police officers say working on holidays and missing out on family is hard, they are making the most of it with those around them.

“This is our family. I see more of these people than I have seen my own family, this year specifically, but every year,” UVA COVID-19 ICU Nurse Heidi Mock said. “It’s not like spending the holidays with a stranger, this is my family.”

Ashley Self is also a nurse alongside Mock at UVA Medical Center.

“Our unit turned into the COVID-19 ICU pretty quickly and we jumped right in and started taking care of these patients,” Self said. “It’s definitely been a long road.”

Both Mock and Self are caring for coronavirus patients through the Christmas holiday.

“It has been really tough for us,” Self said. “Although it is hard to work in a pandemic, we’re really proud of the work that we’re doing and so there is good in the bad as well.”

Some of that good is delivering a little holiday magic to patients.

“I play music in my COVID patients’ rooms all the time,” Mock said. “I go in there because I think it helps orient them even if they’re sedated and don’t actually know what’s happening.”

“Especially in the COVID ICU, they can’t have visitors so we get to be able to provide that support for them when they really can’t be with anybody or their loved one so we do that,” Self said. “That is very meaningful.”

“For the most part, it’s like any other day for us,” Charlottesville Police Officer Eric Thomas said.

Corporal Thomas has been with the Charlottesville Police Department for over seven years. He is no stranger to working through the holidays.

“It’s stressful, but it’s rewarding to ensure everyone’s safe,” he said.

Thomas says the toughest part is having young children waiting for his arrival.

“You got the set schedule but you may not get off on time,” he said. “We have small children they’re expecting you to come home for gifts at a certain time but it may not happen.”

He says this year many officers’ families are choosing to celebrate on a different day.

“We can do stuff on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime,” Thomas said. “All of this is nice, but we are missing the social interactions and close family bonds and connections with friends.”

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