A life of service

Patricia Bergeron enjoys her well-earned retirement after 47 years at the hospital.


Patricia Bergeron has just begun her well-deserved retirement, having started at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital 47 years ago. She was born on the Island, left for Florida, and came back after school to be with her family. Bergeron got married, had children, and began at the hospital when she was hired to cover someone on a three-month maternity leave, having no idea she would remain for so long. She began as a certified nursing assistant, and then served as the unit coordinator in the emergency room for the past 20-plus years. Bergeron loved her job: “You’re always helping people, and that’s a great thing. It made me feel good.” The nursing director in the emergency room department, Michael Spiro, says, “Trish is a true Island gem! She was the glue that held the department together.”

Community is central to Bergeron — both when she speaks about the staff in the department and people on the Island. She makes clear what was important about her job, saying, “It’s all about community for me. The emergency room is a great team to work with, and a great place to work. It’s been very good to me.” Speaking about her retirement, she adds, “It’s very bittersweet. You’re leaving your family. I’ve been there for a long time. We’ve all been through many things together. We have all watched each other’s children grow up, watched people come, watched people die, we’ve watched people be born.”

Bergeron helped in many ways. The unit coordinator is the brain of the emergency department. They manage all the incoming and outgoing calls from patients and doctors, and connect to outside physicians. They do all the paging and the paperwork for medical evacuations. And she was always there for the families too when something happened, whether it was getting them off-Island, figuring out which family members to call, where to stay if they didn’t know the Vineyard, and helping emotionally in times of need. Spiro comments, “Trish has been there forever, so she knows everyone and is an absolute master at everything, and was absolutely critical to keeping the emergency room running.”

The job itself, of course, came with its own stress. Bergeron shares, “It’s stressful when it doesn’t go so well. It’s hard when there are accidents, different traumas, or people die. They are all your neighbors. They are your friends. Most of the time you know who they are, and everything about them; you know their families.” Of course, the early years of the pandemic brought an additional layer of intensity, but clearly, nothing slowed her or the team down. She recalls, “Obviously, it was very crazy. We learned something new about COVID every day. But we just did our jobs. We didn’t have a choice in the matter, and we did it.” Spiro says, “Trish was incredible at what she did. She held that department together over great times and awful times, and everything in between. It’s huge not having her there.”

Asked if anything surprised her, Bergeron laughs, “Of course. Many times, I was surprised. People are amazing in good ways … and bad. When you think you’ve seen it all, just wait until the next day.”

In her spare time, Bergeron has volunteered at the P.A. Club for as many years as she can remember, including serving as president. An avid cribbage player, she is co-director of the Martha’s Vineyard Cribbage Club, making sure that, as in the emergency room, everything is running smoothly.

Asked why she retired now, Bergeron explained, “Too many people wait too long, and then things go awry. I’ve worked too hard. I want to be able to enjoy it.” She adds, “What am I going to do? Hopefully, nothing. There’s so much I can do. I made myself promise I would not commit to anything for three months, just to see where my feet landed; to find out what I like and don’t like. My husband has an oyster farm, so I’ll probably be with him, scalloping, or traveling. I don’t know yet, and that’s kind of how I want to keep it right now.”