Super Senior: Rachael Bergeron

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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) There are 6,600 people working at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center's main campus, but only one Rachael Bergeron.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you still enjoy coming here?

Rachael Bergeron: I do, I love it. It's my second home.

Home for a remarkable 61 years. Bergeron is the longest serving employee at the hospital. Ever. "I do well for 80 years old," she said.

She came to the hospital straight out of high school in 1956 when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, Elvis was shaking his hips, and a new car cost two grand. That year Bergeron started as a typist who worked on appointments. Her boss said the job was going to be short lived.

Rachael Bergeron: She said, 'You know that this is a summer job only.'
Reporter Joe Carroll: Oh really.
Rachael Bergeron: And I've been here ever since.

Bergeron now does appointments in the rheumatology department, a small office shared with two others.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do you get along with these woman?
Rachael Bergeron: I certainly do.

Rachael also gets along with Doctor William Rigby. "Rachael and I have worked together for 36 years," Dr. Rigby said. "Rachael was the big cheese of the phone calls and everything. And she was identified in the community as the person you went to when you had a problem."

"This was a 'Call Rachael Line' -- for people who didn't really know where to go in the hospital," said Bergeron, looking over an old hospital clipping.

She even had a special red phone.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You weren't like a Dear Abby were you?
Rachael Bergeron: No, not really.

But she was a reassuring voice. "People still call up from 5, 10 years ago, and when the call up the Dartmouth Hitchcock rhuematology line, they'll ask for Rachael," Dr. Rigby said.

The hospital's original site was in Hanover -- Mary Hitchcock. Most of it came down in the mid-eighties to make room for the new hospital. Bergeron was born here, and she also worked decades at the old location.

Rachael Bergeron: I didn't go to see the explosion.
Reporter Joe Carroll: You didn't? How come?
Rachael Bergeron: I didn't want to.

Too many memories. But with time come new ones. There's also a legacy. "This is my granddaughter," Bergeron said, introducing me to Brittany Copp. She is one of Rachael's two grandchildren who also work at the hospital.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Do a lot of people know her?
Brittany Copp: I think everyone knows her.

Rachael Bergeron: The time has flown right by.
Reporter Joe Carroll: you know what they say then. You must be enjoying yourself.
Rachael Bergeron: I am.

Her husband Fernand is encouraging her to continue on.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Is it going to be sad when you can't do this anymore?
Rachael Bergeron: Oh yes, very much so.

The Rachael T. Bergeron Award is now awarded to employees with 60 years of service. FYI -- there isn't anyone close to breaking Bergeron's record.

Reporter Joe Carroll: What do you think when you see that?
Rachael Bergeron: I thought, wow. I felt important.

A voice of the past and the present.