(Headline USA) Georgia’s largest hospital system announced this week it is scrapping Christmas Eve from its paid holiday calendar and replacing it with Juneteenth in order to promote “equitable outcomes for all.”
Emory Healthcare, which is comprised of 11 hospitals and over 250 provider locations with more than 24,000 employees total, made the announcement to the company on Thursday.
“In response to requests from our care team members over the past few years, we are pleased to add Juneteenth to the holidays we recognize … Christmas has been, and will remain, a recognized holiday. However, beginning in 2024, we will remove Christmas Eve as a recognized holiday and replace it with Juneteenth,” the company said.
In a memo, CEO Dr. Joon Lee explained that Emory Healthcare currently observes nine paid holidays each year, “while other Atlanta health systems average six paid holidays.” He wrote that leadership did not want to add another day, but wanted to make sure the system was creating “more opportunities for celebration, reflection, and education.”
“For each observed holiday, our clinics and business offices close, which means our patients are unable to make clinic appointments for those days,” he said. “To minimize the impact on patient care, we will not be adding another paid holiday to our calendar.”
Employees expressed frustration with the change, according to Atlanta News First.
“I think, in general, everyone at Emory is pretty frustrated right now,” said one Emory health care provider. “You can’t replace one for the other. It’s completely inappropriate. It’s essentially pitting a Christian holiday against something that’s to be celebratory for everyone – but specifically for our black colleagues.”
Another employee predicted the change will accomplish the opposite of what Emory intends.
“Something that should be an extremely joyful and collective celebration has become another reminder of how our black colleagues can’t have anything without sacrifice,” the employee said.