COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Most are lucky enough to be able to spend Christmas with family and enjoy the holiday at home. But that’s not the case for frontline workers.

Some careers require working around the clock, including holidays.

Doctors have to be on call and available all the time.

Dr. Lydia Shlani worked a 12-hour shift on Christmas eve and again on Christmas. She said it’s been hard, but she remains grateful for this Christmas.

“It has been very difficult and a stressful time,” she said.

For doctors like Sahlani and other medical professionals, it’s been a long 2020.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Sahlani said. She’s finishing out the year where she knows she is needed the most – the emergency room.

“Every Christmas brings with it it’s own challenges,” she said. “Nobody wants to be in the emergency department on Christmas.”

Sahlani, who works at OSU Wexner Medical Center, said this year, people have been concerned about health to the point of delaying treatment.

“I do know patients are telling us they were reluctant to come, maybe put it off a day or two because of concerns for COVID and having anxiety around being in a hospital knowing other patients may have that illness in the room just next to them,” she said.

Sahlani wants to share the message that it’s okay, even encouraged, to seek medical help when needed.

“I hope we never deal with a pandemic like this ever again, but it is okay to be fearful and brave during these times,” she said.

Sahlani added medical professionals are well equipped to deal with what’s happening, and not just COVID-19: it’s everything else she has to remember every day accompanying the pandemic.

“Every day before work, I have a checklist,” Sahlani explained. “I have a respirator mask, I have my shield, I have a new scrub cap I’ve never worn before, I walk out the door of the garage, make sure I have my things, make sure I have a change of clothes so when I come home, I can dispose of my scrubs which may have COVID on them.”

But after nearly a year of wearing excessive PPE, spending holidays in the ER and working long hours, Sahlani said there is one miracle that came this year.

“I have felt hope in a way I can’t describe with the vaccine,” she said. “It was the best gift I could have received in 2020 and gives me hope for 2021.”

And one last message as 2020 fades to the past, from a doctor, daughter, and member of the Columbus community.

“Health is your greatest gift,” Sahlani said. “Protect it with everything you have.”

One thing she says has been happening more frequently is her patients are apologizing to her for having the virus. She said a lot of the patients feel guilt, but Sahlani reassures them they would have never wanted this to happen and it’s okay.

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