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Wentworth-Douglass Hospital President Recognizes COVID-19 Heroes

Wentworth-Douglass Hospital employees, who helped the hospital overcome extraordinary challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, were celebrated at the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner on April 28.

Wentworth-Douglass President & CEO Jeffrey Hughes accepted a special Community Impact Award on behalf of the hospital’s 3,500 employees. He was joined by a few, who he specifically recognized for their professionalism in helping the hospital through the crisis. Those employees were each asked to take a stand and be applauded.

“In my years in healthcare, I never thought we'd be in a pandemic,” Hughes said. “But lo and behold, the past two and a half years have really been unprecedented in terms of what we have faced as providers. We've all done different jobs that we never thought we'd ever have to do. And I have an amazing team.”

Those recognized in-person included:

•       Drs. Ginny and Bill Hassett, a husband-and-wife team who serve as primary care physicians. The Hassetts were credited for consistently reporting to the front lines of the pandemic to staff triage tents for countless hours. 

•       Dr. Nancy Pettinari, the medical director for Wentworth Health Partners. Pettinari served as an incident commander for the hospital’s Incident Command Structure and was at the table for every clinical decision challenge during COVID-19, including the establishment of respiratory illness clinics, vaccine and monoclonal antibody administration, and COVID-19 testing.

•       Martha Wassell, the hospital’s director of infection prevention. Wassell’s COVID-19 infection prevention guidance both internally to the hospital’s operations, and externally to the public via media appearances, was credited with slowing the spread of the virus in the community and convincing members of the public to get vaccinated.

•       Peg Gagne, the hospital’s nursing administration project manager. Gagne led the hospital’s vaccine clinics. Gagne operationalized vaccine administration to the most vulnerable in the community, and medical professionals on the front lines of the pandemic, while also recruiting volunteers to administer vaccines.

•       Kayla Fitzgerald, the executive director of critical care services. Fitzgerald and her team of clinical leaders were credited for working nonstop to quickly increase the hospital critical care unit capacity when it was hit hardest with a COVID-19 surge in December 2021.

Hughes went on to say that those recognized represent just a handful of the thousands of Wentworth-Douglass employees who helped the organization through the pandemic. He added he was humbled by the award and thanked the chamber for recognizing the hospital’s role in the community.

“There's something special about a community hospital. There's something special about Wentworth-Douglass, and that is this connection to the community” Hughes said. “We take our mission very seriously, and that is really to meet the healthcare needs of our community.”

N.H. Gov. Chris Sununu attended the awards dinner and took some time to chat with the Wentworth-Douglass staff members.

“You have a great team,” Sununu told staff members.

Also honored at the awards ceremony was Noreen Biehl, who spent 30 years as Wentworth-Douglass Hospital’s vice president of community relations. Biehl was awarded the chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award.

“I had the best, most fabulous job working for Wentworth-Douglass,” Biehl said. “I loved working there and the difference I was able to make. I’m so proud that my friends at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital are honored alongside me tonight.”

The awards ceremony took place at the Regatta Banquet & Conference Center in Eliot, ME.


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