Cover photo for Dr. Pamela M. Pettinati, MD, Ph.d's Obituary
Dr. Pamela M. Pettinati, MD, Ph.d Profile Photo
1943 Dr. Pamela 2022

Dr. Pamela M. Pettinati, MD, Ph.d

July 4, 1943 — October 14, 2022

Dr. Pamela M. Pettinati, M.D., Ph. D a resident of Worcester, formerly of Medford, Brighton, and Gloucester, passed away Friday, October 14th, 2022, with loved ones gathered at her bedside.

Pamela Mary Pettinati M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D. grew up in Medford, MA. with her parents, seven siblings, and her extended family. She attended the Medford Public Schools where she distinguished herself as an outstanding honors student, receiving many awards and scholarships all the while working beginning at age 11 as a nanny for a Medford cardiologist caring for his four small sons.  After reading some of his medical books, Pam decided to become a physician and upon graduation from Medford High School, she entered and matriculated at Emmanuel College. It was the first time that she had attended a Catholic school, and was deeply influenced by the Dominican Fathers, the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, and the lay professors whom she met there. Pam was an outstanding student who majored in Chemistry and excelled in all the sciences as well as English. Many of the sisters of Notre Dame became her mentors and later became lifelong friends. Sister Mary John Hoye, SND, the Chairperson of the Chemistry Department, was a special guide and inspiration for Pamela. While attending Emmanuel, she worked in the clinical laboratories of the nearby New England Deaconess Hospital and for 50 years thereafter, as an Associate, for New England Deaconess, Pamela continued to work in various apostolates and missions with the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur of the Boston and Ipswich Provinces. Over the years, she was awarded the Alumnae Achievement Award from Emmanuel College and the Anam Cara Award from the sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to honor her ideals, commitment, and service.

Pamela graduated from Emmanuel, and continued her studies at Tufts University School of Medicine where she was one of four women in a class with 120 men and the only woman who started together at Tufts that year, to complete the studies and graduate with her class.   Pamela then completed a rotating Internship and a four-year residency in Surgery at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Brighton, MA. Pamela was an outstanding resident and an accomplished surgeon; She was the first woman ever to be the Chief Surgical Resident at St. Elizabeth's and the first woman to complete the Surgical Residency at that institution.

Pamela then went on to a residency in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Brown's Rhode Island Hospital where she distinguished herself as a clinician, a surgeon, and a scholar. As at St Elizabeth’s, Pamela was the first woman ever to complete this residency program. She then  returned to Boston, completed her Board certification by the National Board of Medical Examiners, the American Board of Surgery, and the American Board of Plastic Surgery, becoming a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Pam worked through the ranks to become Chief of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Maxillofacial Surgery at St. Elizabeth's, the Whidden Memorial Hospital, and the Quigley Memorial Hospital.  She was also an Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery at Tufts University School of Medicine, as an outstanding professor and mentor for a generation of nurses, medical students, and residents. With a thirst for knowledge, Pamela always continued to study in traditional and diverse disciplines. She studied theology at the Jesuit Weston School of Theology and later spiritual direction at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, receiving a  Master of Public Health and Ph.D. degrees from Boston University.

Pamela was a founding member of the mothers of the Diocesan Spiritual Life Center in Rhode Island, collaborating with the sisters of Mercy through her position on the Board of the Eastern Mercy Health System providing uncompensated care for the poor in this country and in developing countries, through Salud y Misericordia, training community health workers, nurses, and doctors in Peru.

In 1995, Pamela became disabled with myasthenia gravis, and had to retire from her practice of surgery and her positions within the Department of Surgery, after performing over 20,000 operations and with over 12,000 patients. Pamela then became Chief of the Section of Alternative Medicine and Complementary Therapies within the Department of Medicine at St. Elizabeth's and an Associate Clinical Professor of both Medicine and Surgery at Tufts. Pamela strove to lead the hospital into the 21' century of patient care by integrating traditional and holistic modalities. She left St. Elizabeth's in 1998 after serving the community there for 30 years. Not able to retire, Pamela became certified in complementary medicine and as a Reiki Master, a Zero Balancer, a focusing teacher and trainer, a Gestalt therapist, and a Rubenfeld Synergist. While collaborating closely with the senior teachers at the Center for Mindfulness of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Pamela began teaching Mindfulness meditation at several locations including the Jesuit Campion Renewal Center in Weston and Rosie' s Place in Boston. Pamela felt especially honored to collaborate with patients who had chronic pain and chronic diseases as well as homeless women who were struggling to claim a new identity in the world. Pam also studied Clinical Pastoral Education through the Danielsen Institute at Boston University and ministering to the retired Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In 2002, Pamela retired to Gloucester where she devoted herself to writing mysteries and short stories, and guiding others on their spiritual journeys. She had an enthusiastic sense of humor and wonderful storyteller. Pamela was a woman of compassion, faith, and vision, who dedicate. her life to learning, to teaching, and to holistic healing. She was an inspiration to many, and she will be sorely missed.

Pamela leaves behind her sisters, Linda Pettinati Hurley of Nevada, and Patricia Ferrala of Maine; nieces and nephews, including, Michael and Stephen Pettinati, and Melissa Hurley; extended family members and many friends, Clare and Mike Foley of Minneapolis, Kathleen O'Connell of Florida, Rev Dr. Nicholas Sannella, Mary Kilburn and many wonderful friends, at Notre Dame du Lac in Worcester.  

Pamela’s celebration of Christian burial mass will be held Friday, October 21st at 10:30 am in the Notre Dame du Lac Chapel, 555 Plantation St. Her friend, Rev Dr. Nicholas Sannella will be principal celebrant. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial remembrances in her name can be made to the Notre Dame du Lac, Bridge Program fund, 555 Plantation St Worcester 01605. The MERCADANTE FUNERAL HOME & CHAPEL, 370 Plantation St is honored to assist the family with arrangements.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Pamela M. Pettinati, MD, Ph.d, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Friday, October 21, 2022

Starts at 10:30 am (Eastern time)

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