"Nobody wants to be in the hospital during the holidays, so we try to make it as pleasant as possible," said Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for Missouri Delta Medical Center. "If they're stable we'll try to get them home to their families the best we can. We really try to get them home - our census really goes down near Christmas because we try to discharge as many people as we can so they can spend the holiday with their family. But some people aren't as fortunate as others and have to stay."
In these cases, staff try hard to bring at least a little holiday cheer.
"If we have children in pediatric, we do a Christmas party on Christmas Day," Urhahn said. "We have punch and cookies."
As Christmas for children just isn't Christmas without presents, the staff makes sure everybody has at least one to open.
In the hospital's O'Bannon Family Care Center, new mothers are given poinsettias and newborns get a special hand-knit sock hat. "During the month of December they're festive - all red and green," Urhahn said.
This is the first Christmas for the MDMC's Inpatient Rehab Center, according to Kyla Evans, community education manager for the Rehab Center.
"We have bought Christmas presents for them so they have something to open Christmas day - they are actually tailored for the patients, not generic gifts," said Evans. "We try to make it personal."
While a typical stay for the Rehab Center is only about two weeks, "If Christmas happens to fall during that two weeks we want to make sure they feel at home," Evans said. "We've actually admitted people today."
Evans said the unit tends to be a very family-oriented unit. "It's close-knit - we encourage family members to visit during the holidays," she said.
Nursing homes in the area also try to make the holidays special.
Residents at the Hunter Acres Caring Center have a noon meal planned with gifts to be opened afterward.
"They invite the families and have dinner," said Amy Hardin, assistant director of nursing at Hunter Acres. "The residents seem to enjoy it - the staff enjoys it too."
Mary Martin, activity director at the Miner Nursing Center said 74 family members showed up to their Christmas dinner Friday night.
"They're always tickled to death when families come to visit them," Martin said.
While Wednesday and Thursday will be more "family oriented," the weeks leading up to Christmas featured guests that aren't necessarily related to the residents.
"We had school children from Scott City schools," said Martin. "They gave gifts to every resident."
Friday members of the Miner police and fire departments visited. "They participated in an exercise group with the residents and then they gave the residents Christmas trees to go in their rooms," said Martin. "They enjoyed the gifts but they really liked the one-on-one involvement, the participation - they loved it."
The extra visitors were a welcome addition, Martin said. "Without the community's involvement it wouldn't be as pleasant."