A Fond Farewell to NCH Staff Members


As 2020 comes to a close, we want to recognize the longtime employees who retired from Nantucket Cottage Hospital or left the organization this year and thank them for the many contributions they have made to the health and wellness of our island. Below they share some reflections on their years of service at NCH.

Annie Backus, LPN – Patient Care Tech, Med/Surg

I have worked here at NCH for 46 years! My first and only professional job. I started when I was just 19 years old, fresh out of nursing school. Green as green can be! Most rewarding has been all I have learned since beginning my career on Oct. 21, 1974. All the patients I have cared for, all the lives I have touched and all the people I have met including patients, staff and administration. Thanks for allowing me to be a part of the NCH  team and all my patients over the years who entrusted me with their care through several generations of families. From bathing the newborn to holding the hand of a dying patient, to monitoring of behavioral health patients and now COVID patients, I have seen and done so much, but now it is time to move into my next chapter.  What a journey it has been.   See you at the beach!

Brenda Johnson, RN – Clinical Program Director

I have worked at NCH for 45 years. I volunteered at age 12 as a “Pink Lady” then started working as a nurse in May of 1975 until May of 2020. When I started I worked primarily in the Emergency Department and the operating room. I went on to work in many capacities as a staff nurse, supervisor, director working in OB, medical surgical, quality, and was the first nurse on Nantucket to learn hemodialysis at the Cape Cod Kidney Center. In 2011 I became the Privacy Officer, Director of Patient & Family Centered Care, focusing on patient satisfaction and working with staff to help them understand the patients and families point of view. I also served as Compliance Coordinator and ultimately Compliance Officer focusing a great deal on regulatory compliance. Former President and CEO Dr. Margot Hartmann then asked me to serve as the Clinical Project Director for the building of the new hospital. This included a tremendous amount of collaboration between staff, community members, architects and outside colleagues, construction staff, architects and vendors. The most rewarding aspects of my career at NCH were learning from amazing colleagues, patients and family members. It’s really about the people! We have had some world class physicians work though our hospital and I found they were all willing to teach. That also holds true for the travelling staff who might have a different perspective but what a fountain of knowledge they are willing to share. The most rewarding aspect for me really centers around the patients and families. The only reason we are here is to take care of them. I am constantly having patients and family members who remember me holding their hand as they went under anesthesia in the OR, or how I saved their life by having excellent clinical skills and calling in for help in a timely manner, or comforting a scared child, holding the hand of a patient as they take the last breath and doing all of this as part of a kind ,compassionate team of extraordinary health care colleagues. This is my hospital. It has taken care of at least 7 generations of my family so I want us to treat each patient like it was a beloved family member.

Sally Sylvia – Unit Secretary, Med/Surg

I originally started in the billing office, but soon switched to the evening ward clerk position on Med Surg. I stayed in that position until I became one of the first ER Clerks along with Darrel Van Lieu and Pam Gardner.  I stayed there for 7 years, until Joan Chalecki retired and former chief nurse Jane Bonvini asked me to apply for Joan’s position.  And there I have been ever since!

I would say the most rewarding part of the position is the relationships you build with your coworkers and the patients. Knowing that you make a difference and can help ease the fears of some of the patients, merely by your presence, is priceless. Being an essential part of the nursing team was important; knowing that my work was essential to the smooth running of the nurses station, always kept me job focused. Having grown up here, a familiar face is so welcomed to family, patients and friends.  I have always tried to be that friendly, helpful person.  You sure do make some lasting friendships here.  And I am so thankful for the opportunity to make a difference. The hospital has been in my blood!  I remember my dad volunteering here at the switchboard back in the 60’s; volunteering here was a coveted position within the community! So since I was a child, NCH has been an important part of my life.  Nantucket was such a small community; you worked with your neighbors or classmates.  You knew each other for many years and have watched the progression of families thru the years.  I went to school with many of my coworkers.   We have shared weddings, births, deaths, graduations and everything in between; we are truly a family and that is part of what makes working here so special.  As I look back, it truly has been an honor and a privilege to work with you all.  Keep up the good work.

Lina Gillies – Assistant to the President

I worked at Nantucket Cottage Hospital from 1996 to 2020. I began my NCH career in 1996 as the interim assistant to the Director of Nursing and shortly thereafter with the HR consultant to help establish the hospital’s first official HR department. From there I transferred to Administration and served as Executive Assistant supporting four Presidents and CEOs, three CFO’s and five Board Chairs until my departure in May 2020. My hands-on involvement with the Beinecke Scholarship Program will always remain near and dear to my heart. I watched many young NHS students, NCH employees, and Nantucket residents benefit from the scholarship and go on to succeed in the healthcare field. When I started working at NCH there was only “snail mail” – no e-mail, no voicemail, only about six computers hospital wide – and no POPS!  I was the volunteer POPS Beach Bar Captain for ten years, beginning with the first POPS in 1997 and continued my volunteer involvement. So much has changed in healthcare, but the need for a top-notch hospital and medical facility 30 miles out to sea has not changed. NCH and everything it offers is critical to living on Nantucket. I am sad at no longer being part of the NCH family, but will always cherish the memories I have – of my colleagues, volunteers, the medical staff, Trustees, donors and of the Nantucket community. I am proud to have contributed to ensure Nantucket Cottage Hospital was “here, when and where we were needed.”

Linda Muhler – Patient Services Coordinator/Rev Ops Outpatient

I started at NCH in September of 1999, left and had a baby, then returned again in June of 2000. The most rewarding aspects of working at NCH will always  be the relationships built with the patients. It was great to be there to help, solve a problem, explain something hard to understand. It felt good to be counted upon. And I am forever grateful for the lifelong friendships found while working at NCH.

Terry Hughes – Director/IT

Working for NCH allowed me to think outside the box  which allowed me to improve the way staff can care for their patients. ( i.e. Telehealth – dermatology, pain management, and now being able to care for patient remotely). NCH may be a small hospital 30 miles at sea, but we need to perform the same task as the large hospitals on the mainland. We may be small, but we can lead the way patients are cared for.

Sarah Wright, RN – Clinical Informatics RN Specialist/eCare

The most rewarding aspect of working at NCH has been the people. Most importantly the close relationships I have been able to establish with the staff and the community I cared for. Working at NCH was the perfect passage to retirement after a 24-year career in the military.  I wanted to spend my days after the military in a small town, providing care in a small close-knit hospital.  Nantucket and NCH has been the perfect match to meeting all my personal and professional goals.

Francis Weld, MD, Cardiologist

I’ve been a cardiology consultant for NCH since 2013, working exclusively as a cardiology consultant, in the specialty clinic. The most rewarding aspect of my work has been the hospital staff and also the patients; for some reason, Nantucket generates wonderful personalities! Even though I’m 81, I would not retire if I still had youthful eyesight!

We would also like to recognize the following staff members with more than 5 years of service who left the organization in 2020 for their contributions to NCH:

  • Jaime Connelly
  • Karoline Hill
  • Yvonne King
  • Bob Konkel
  • Lilly Kraljevic
  • Donald Maida
  • Anne Stearns
  • Margaret Zajicek


General News

12 / 29 / 2020 by