Updated Nov. 24
Cronig’s owner Steve Bernier spent over a week in a Boston hospital after being airlifted from the Vineyard due to a serious COVID-19 infection. His wife, Constance Messmer, told The Times Saturday that his condition continues to improve, and with luck, he will come back to the Vineyard within a week. Messmer later specified she expected to bring Bernier home Tuesday.
In an email that Messmer said encompassed the thoughts of Bernier’s entire family, she wrote, “Steve and his family are touched by, and appreciate, the outpouring of concern, prayer, support, and love. We would like to thank all the Healthy Additions and Cronig’s staff, community, parking lot volunteers, and especially the first responders and M.V. Hospital staff, along with Dr. Currier’s evaluation and decisions that led Steve on his journey for treatment and recovery. He is currently receiving needed care in Boston … and yes, that was his first helicopter ride, though he still prefers the ferry. Steve thanks God he was able to get a room in one of our great hospitals in Boston, as so many other families across our state are having to utilize them at this time.
“Right now he is dealing with the effects of COVID, which include pneumonia. The Boston hospital staff are working on his heart and lung issues related to the virus and treatment for his recovery, to hopefully make the transition home by Thanksgiving. He says after a couple of days of at-home rest, he’ll be ready to serve our caring community, eager to be back with his staff, at his desk and, of course, in the parking lot. Right now, he says, “Recovery is a work in progress.”
In a follow-up telephone conversation, Messmer said Bernier had been hit with severe double pneumonia. Nevertheless, she said, Bernier and his family were fortunate the infection was not worse. He’s been on oxygen, she noted, but never a ventilator.
“I was a puddle of tears for so many days,” she said.
Messmer said her 72-year-old husband’s good level of physical fitness helped him weather the infection. “He exercises every day,” she said.
Another boost for Bernier was learning folks had showed up at the grocery store parking lot to do the sweeping and cleaning he routinely does himself. Messmer said Bernier was “really touched” by the gesture, as she was herself.
Messmer said the outpouring of concern has been significant. So much so, folks have been calling everywhere, including to hospital administration, to ask about Steve. Some have even reached him in his room. While it’s touching, she said she’s in “Momma Bear mode” now, and asked that folks refrain from reaching out to Bernier on the phone because his lungs remain delicate. What she described as his irrepressible love of connecting with the community will compel him to talk on the phone, and that will get in the way of the mending process for his lungs. For folks who want to share their sentiments, she recommended that they send a card or letter to Cronig’s at P.O. Box 698, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Messmer also recommended they familiarize themselves with the CDC’s symptoms for novel coronavirus infection, and practice social distancing, wear masks, and wash their hands frequently.
One of the best tributes people can pay to Steve and to what she calls “his other family,” the staff at Cronig’s, is to donate to the Island Food Pantry.
As of Saturday afternoon, she said, Bernier was “feeling good,” and has improved oxygen levels. When he gets home, she said he will need rest, and reminded folks not to call him so he doesn’t tax his lungs.
“We’re blessed,” she said.
Updated with the day Bernier is anticipated to return to the Vineyard.