Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Annual Fund

June 2016






Helen Anderson cuts the cake
at her retirement celebration.


Dear Friends,

I’ve just loved being an operating room nurse for the past 26 years at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

I’ve known I wanted to help people since I was a Navy brat growing up in Newport, Rhode Island. One of my very first jobs was helping at a nursing home. I was working as a nurse in Melrose when I met my husband, John, at a church group that one of my patients suggested I attend. We were married in 1973.

John and I moved to the Vineyard in 1990 when he took a job here. I applied at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and before long I was a nurse on the operating room staff.

You need a strong work ethic to be an OR nurse. Sometimes you’re in surgery for more than eight hours, and you have to be right on your toes the whole time, anticipating what the doctors will need. It’s hard work, but there’s a huge satisfaction in helping people, and the surgical team of doctors and nurses becomes like a family.

I’ve had a front-row seat for so many changes in 26 years. When I retired this April, I was one of the last OR nurses who’d worked in the Hospital’s 1972 building. Our new operating rooms are so much bigger and better equipped. And of course all our records are electronic now; we’ve gone from pen and paper to doing everything on the computer. In the old building we had six OR nurses on the staff. Now it’s twelve or thirteen, because we’re doing so much more for people.

When I first came here, people would travel off-Island for routine things like colonoscopies. Now we have all the best equipment right here, including the newest scopes and high-definition cameras. We do a lot more laparoscopic surgery now, where the incisions are so tiny that the recovery from surgery is much easier.

My last day at work was April 8. It’s hard to walk away – you miss all the people you’ve worked with – but for me, it was time. Now that I’m not tethered to the beeper any more, John and I are looking forward to traveling abroad.

The operating room is such an important piece of the Hospital, and I’m very proud of the way it has advanced and grown during my years here. I can’t say too strongly how much we need this Hospital on Martha’s Vineyard. When my husband had a heart attack in 1995, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital took good care of him. The Hospital was here for both my parents, too, in their final illnesses.

Your generous gift in support of Martha’s Vineyard Hospital – so this essential institution can keep on taking care of our community – would be the best retirement gift I can imagine.

Gratefully yours,


Helen Anderson

Helen Anderson, a graduate of the Melrose-Wakefield Hospital School of Nursing, received her training as a surgical nurse at Lawrence General Hospital and began her work as an OR nurse at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in 1990. She is active in Trinity United Methodist Church, and she sings second soprano in the Island Community Chorus. Helen and her husband, John, have a daughter, Elizabeth, who is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University.

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