Submitted by Emerson Hospital
Alberta Genetti of Bedford has always believed in the importance of volunteering “to do something to help people.” Even so, she was initially anxious when her daughter, Susan, a nurse in Emerson Hospital’s Nursery for 20 years, suggested that she join their department.
“I can be shy at first, and I didn’t think I could be responsible for greeting visitors to the unit,” recalled 83-year-old Genetti, who delivered all four of her children at Emerson, where she has continued to receive routine medical care. “A couple weeks later, Susan told me, ‘They’re waiting for you. Why don’t you just try it?’ So I did, and I’ve loved the job every minute since.”
Since her first shift at the Emerson Hospital Clough Birthing Center on March 15, 2007, Genetti has accumulated compliments almost as numerous as her 3,500 volunteer hours. In recognition of her exceptional contributions in performance, attitude and service excellence, she was recently presented with Emerson’s 2014 Joan Schiller Outstanding Volunteer Award. The annual honor was established in recognition of Joan Schiller, who volunteered more than 22,000 hours as a patient advocate in the Family Liaison Program from 1986 until her retirement in 2010.
“I was so shocked. I burst out crying because it touched me so,” Genetti said of receiving the award. “I’m a firm believer in giving of yourself, and this is very rewarding work.”
Maureen Fitzgerald, RN has first-hand knowledge and appreciation for Genetti’s volunteer efforts. Regardless of weather conditions, Genetti reports at 7 a.m. for her biweekly shift, during which she organizes paperwork, stocks supplies and greets visitors to the Nursery. However, she is perhaps best known for her grandmotherly love while steadying the nerves of anxious fathers and holding and rocking infants when their parents aren’t available.
Genetti also shares her artistic talents with the families. An expert craftswoman who enjoys woodworking, woodcarving, knitting, sewing and creating stained glass, she has purchased the materials and donated more than 5,000 handmade pink and blue baby blankets – and recently began making matching fleece hats. In fact, Fitzgerald remembers a second-time mother who had just delivered a boy happily announce to the staff that she would now be adding a blue blanket to her pink one at home.
“Alberta is a very kind and giving person with a special touch. There’s not a baby she can’t make calm and relaxed, but she also anticipates the nurses’ and families’ needs so well,” said Fitzgerald, noting how juice and crackers will suddenly appear for an exhausted new parent. “When Alberta is in the Nursery, it’s a happy day. She’s a real gift to us all.”
Genetti, who has four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grand grandchildren, said she is proud to be a surrogate mother to the infants in the Nursery, for even a short time. She credits her calming effect on the babies with generous cuddle time, and has also come to view the nurses with whom she works as her second family.
“I love the babies, of course, but the nurses, midwives and physicians are first-class, every one of them,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
The Emerson Hospital Clough Birthing Center features one-on-one nursing care in private, comfortable and secure labor and delivery rooms and private mother-baby recovery rooms. Certified breastfeeding consultants are close at hand, and 24-hour baby care is provided by board-certified pediatricians. The area’s only Special Care Level 2 Nursery is directed by a Massachusetts General Hospital neonatologist; and high-risk pregnancy services, including specialists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are also conveniently offered on-site at Emerson. For more information, visit www.emersonhospital.org.
Emerson Hospital is a multi-site health system headquartered in Concord, Mass., with additional facilities in Sudbury, Groton and Westford. The 179-bed hospital provides advanced medical services to more than 300,000 individuals in 25 towns. To learn more, visit www.emersonhospital.org.