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Emory U. healthcare system replaces Christmas Eve with Juneteenth as paid holiday

‘We hope this will allow more opportunities for celebration, reflection, and education’

A hospital and healthcare system run by an elite Georgia university removed Christmas Eve from its paid holiday calendar and added Juneteenth.

Emory Healthcare, part of Emory University in Atlanta, nixed Christmas Eve on Aug. 31 in an email from CEO Dr. Joon Lee, Atlanta News First reported.

Employees now must use paid time off for Christmas Eve.

“Thanks to your feedback, the Executive Leadership Team and I have decided to make Juneteenth (June 19) an EHC observed holiday,” Lee wrote in an email to staff, shared Thursday in a report by The Washington Free Beacon. 

NAACP DeKalb County President Edwina Clanton, interviewed by Atlanta News, expressed some reservations.

“I don’t understand, why they can’t do both,” she said.

Clanton said she thinks companies should recognize Juneteenth, which President Joe Biden recognized as a federal holiday in 2021. However, she said, the change might do more damage than good at first.

“I’m sure it will put anger in some hearts,” Clanton told the outlet. “Why do we have to do this? Why can’t we have our old holidays off?”

According to Lee’s memo, Emory Healthcare leaders hope the change will “allow more opportunities for celebration, reflection, and education.”

“[D]iversity, equity, and inclusion at Emory Healthcare (EHC) is about creating an environment of true belonging for our patients and team members, while ensuring equitable outcomes for all.”

Staff feedback on the holiday schedule prompted the change, according to the memo.

“To minimize impact to patient care, we will not be adding another paid holiday to our calendar,” Lee wrote. “Rather, beginning January 2024, we will remove Christmas Eve from our holiday calendar and replace it with Juneteenth.”

“The new schedule could also leave the hospital short-staffed at one of the deadliest times of the year,” according to The Free Beacon. “Since 2021, Juneteenth weekends have been marred by mass shootings and other forms of gun violence, including at holiday celebrations across the country.”

Emory Healthcare comprises 11 hospitals, a clinic, and more than 425 provider locations, according to its website. It is the “most comprehensive academic healthcare system in Georgia.”

MORE: Emory researchers blame ‘structural racism’ for diabetes


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