BANGOR, Maine — Sylvia Page of Hudson was planning to celebrate Christmas at home with her family, but then she suffered a mild heart attack on Friday.
She did still spend Christmas with her loved ones, but from Eastern Maine Medical Center, where she was awaiting a heart procedure set for Tuesday.
Page was surrounded by family on Christmas Day in the hospital’s cardiac unit. On hand were her son, Kirk Werran, who’s been by her side since she arrived at the hospital; her daughter and son-in-law, Sarah and Matt McCorrison; and their daughters, Kaitlyn, 10, Isabella, 7, Emalee, 11, and 6-year-old Cassidy. Her husband, James Page, had visited earlier in the day.
“This is my family, cheering me up,” Page said of the roomful of visitors. “It made them feel better to help care for me,” she said, adding that having them around made her feel better, too.
“They made me feel more comfortable and helped me have a good Christmas. I told my husband the roses he sent me was my Christmas tree,” she said, gesturing toward a large bouquet in a vase atop a shelf across the room from her hospital bed.
Page was among hundred of patients — and staff members — who spent the Christmas holiday at the Bangor hospital.
Layla Eaton, a nurse in the cardiac unit, made a slow cooker full of macaroni and cheese to share with her co-workers during her Christmas Day shift.
As she sees it, Christmas at EMMC is a little slower because the hospital makes an effort to get patients home for the holidays, whenever possible.
“I think the biggest thing probably, for staff, at least is that we’re all kind of in the same boat. We’d rather be home with our families but the second best thing is that we definitely come together stronger as a family, as a staff, at Christmas more than we do most other days,” Eaton said.
Jim Graham, a chef at EMMC, was in charge of this year’s Christmas meal: Turkey and trimmings, two kinds of pie and a sugar-free cherry chiffon cheesecake. All of it was prepared in a temporary kitchen, as the main kitchen is undergoing renovations.
“We cooked 50 turkeys and served nearly 1,000 Christmas dinner meals to patients, staff and visitors,” he said, adding that employees who showed their badges got to eat for free. He said preparations for the special holiday meal began on Friday.
“Working the holiday [means] you know you’re going to work it. People are happy. It’s a good feeling. People are in here doing important worthwhile work for people who need it, so you feel like you’re doing something important,” he said. “I never regretted working a holiday here ever.”