Emerson Hospital’s Unsung Hero

Alberta Genetti is the only volunteer Emerson has ever allowed in its nursery.

Alberta Genetti

Alberta Genetti in the nursery. Photo provided to bostonmagazine.com

In its 103-year history, Concord’s Emerson Hospital has allowed only one volunteer in its nursery: 84-year-old Alberta Genetti. It’s not hard to see why — with four children, eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren of her own, Genetti knows her way around a nursery. “I’m used to this,” she says.

After working as a switchboard operator her entire life, Genetti found Emerson through her daughter, Susan, who worked in the labor and delivery department for 20 years before moving to Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Her work started out with a simple task: opening the nursery door for doctors and nurses. “One day they were busy and one of the doctors asked if they couldn’t just get somebody to open that door. Susan asked me and I said no, I didn’t want to do that,” Genetti remembers. “And then finally, after three weeks of teasing, I gave in. They needed the help. My husband had passed away, and I didn’t want to stay home and do nothing. So I came, and I’m still here.”

Though it may have taken some coaxing at first, Genetti says she has come to love her work. “It’s very rewarding,” she says of her time at the hospital. “You don’t have to get paid for everything in life. I just love it.”

It’s that passion that motivates Genetti to come to the hospital three mornings a week. She works 6:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and helps the nurses with “everything that I can do that they don’t have time to do,” she says. The list of tasks ranges from cleaning to bottling breast milk.

All of those early mornings have added up—Genetti has logged 3,700 hours in the nursery since she began in 2007. In addition, she’s made and donated an incredible 5,500 blankets to Emerson and Mount Auburn Hospitals.

“I just came, really, to open the door, and I ended up doing a lot of things,” Genetti says. “It’s nice to come here because all the nurses are so helpful and so good. It’s nice to be with good people, and anything I can do to help them, I try.”

And it’s because of those nurses and the babies they care for that Genetti says she has no plans to stop her work at Emerson. “As long as I can drive and have my right brain about me,” she says, “I would like to do it.”