People of KHSC: Santa Claus

News / General
By J Pereira

It takes all kinds of people to keep a hospital running and offering the highest level of patient and family-centred care. From doctors and nurses, to dieticians, physiotherapists, social workers, porters and environmental services staff, everyone has a role to play. However, one time a year, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC) puts out the call for a little extra help, from a jolly old elf, to make sure our youngest patients are in the holiday spirit.

Believe it or not, KHSC and many hospitals just like us, have a direct phone line straight to the North Pole to call in Santa Claus himself to help brighten the day of our pediatric patients and staff. And, it has come in extra handy this year as everyone is in need of a little extra pick-me-up thanks to COVID-19.

“Recently I was able to visit some children with the help of the Royal Canadian Air Force. My friends in the military flew up to the North Pole to pick me up because the sled was in the shop getting a tune up before Christmas Eve,” says Santa. “I was able to fly down to Kingston and say hi to all the children in the hospital and then fly back to the North Pole to get ready for the big night.”

“They first flew me past the hospital so I could wave at all the children looking out the hospital windows and I was just so excited to land and go visit with all of them. It’s so much fun. This year one little boy wanted to play Connect 4, which I had never done before. He beat me the first two games and I told him that on the third game I would finally beat him. He winked at me and said ‘I’d like to see you try.’”

“Another year I remember knocking on the door of a young boy and his family so I could drop off a present to him in his hospital room. When he heard me he stood up in his crib and started shouting my name! His father got teary-eyed and said that was the first time in three days that he had found the strength to stand and he did it for me. It was very special to see how happy he was and it warmed Santa’s heart.”

Normally, in non-COVID times, Santa would also make visits to staff in the hospital too.

“I remember one time I was standing in the lobby and a group of eight young staff members all wearing their blue scrubs came down to see me and asked if they could take a picture. I said of course! They all pulled out ugly Christmas sweaters and we took a moment to take a photo before they had to run back upstairs. It turns out they were a team working the evening in the OR and they all took their quick 15 minute break to meet with me. That is one of my favourite memories.”

Now, of course Santa’s most important visit to KHSC is quickly approaching with just a few days until Christmas Eve.

“I’ll land my sleigh on the roof of the hospital and pop down to deliver presents to all the children. Even though they’re not at home, I’ll know exactly where to find them. The only thing that would make the visit better would be if the KHSC could leave a few extra carrots on the roof for the reindeer, because they can get pretty hungry too on such a busy night.”

And he had one last message to all the children in southeastern Ontario.

“Try not to worry too much about COVID, Santa has been following Public Health’s advice and the only thing I'll be spreading is Christmas cheer. Just enjoy the holidays and time at home with your family.”