Her kindness, humility, and personal touch have made her a legend in our Pediatrics department for the past 41 years.

Now, Hilda Bettencourt is starting her retirement, and the Lowell Sun was there to capture the celebration, COVID-style.

Caravan honors medical assistant for more than 40 years of dedication

By Aaron Curtis (Lowell Sun)

“Hilda Bettencourt remembers being in her early 20s when she was interviewed to fill a position as a Portuguese translator at the Lowell Community Health Center in 1978.

Bettencourt says she was hired the same day.

After more than four decades working for the health center, the now 65-year-old Bettencourt worked her last day on Friday and officially retired.

‘I never thought I would be there 41 1/2 years,’ Bettencourt said. ‘It became like a home.’

Loved by her colleagues and patients, a retirement celebration for Bettencourt seemed like the obvious next step. But with the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the options were limited.

Bettencourt’s colleagues found a way.

On Saturday, a roughly 30-car caravan drove by Bettencourt’s home on Pleasant Street in Lowell, trumpeting their horns and brandishing signs of gratitude, as a stunned Bettencourt stood on her stoop and absorbed the love.

‘I was shocked. It was amazing,’ Bettencourt said. ‘It shows you how much Lowell Community Health Center cares about their employees. It’s like a family.’

Bettencourt and her family moved to the U.S. from the Azores – a Portuguese archipelago – in 1968. Bettencourt, who was 12 years at the time, said it was difficult leaving her friends behind and not knowing a word of English.

‘Everything was so so different,’ Bettencourt said. ‘But my parents wanted to give us a better life.’

Bettencourt’s path in life led her to a career she adored at the health center, where she worked as a medical assistant.”