A little-known fact about Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief nursing and operations officer Claire Seguin is that she was a college runner.

Another little-known fact about Ms. Seguin is that she started her job on March 1, 10 days before the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and 12 days before it was declared a national emergency in the United States.

Good thing she knows how to get off the starting block.

“I do some funny talk all the time about, you know, crossing the finish line, pebbles in the sneakers. I can’t stop!” exclaimed Ms. Seguin (who has a doctorate in nursing and goes by Dr. Seguin with her colleagues) in an interview with the Gazette this week. “I’m no longer racing these days. But still, it’s been really part of my life.”

For the past three months, Ms. Seguin has been running a different sort of race, scrambling to ensure that the hospital — like other medical facilities across the country — rapidly transformed its operations to deal with an unprecedented medical crisis. Within a week of her job starting, the hospital jumped into incident command mode, closing its front entrance and putting up a half-dozen tents to handle personal protective equipment and expand surge capacity. The once quiet 25-bed community hospital was forced to transform into a bulwark against a virus the likes of which hadn’t been seen in a century.

As the new chief operations officer, Ms. Seguin was central to the effort, serving as an incident commander and coordinating the hospital’s emergency response team through countless Zoom meetings and constant walk-throughs. She’s become a powerful presence on the front lines of the pandemic, at both the hospital and at press briefings, a quick but careful voice for the facility and the public.

It’s easy to forget that she started her job only three months ago, and has only been with the hospital for a year.

Ms. Seguin is a runner not a swimmer. But she said getting thrown in the deep end wasn’t an issue.

“I’m definitely busy, and it’s challenging. But in a good way,” she said. “If there’s a silver lining in that — what a good way for all of us to become close, and understand each other, and our skill sets, and learn how to run operations at the hospital, together.”

She was born in London, the daughter of Irish parents who moved to the south shore of Massachusetts with her family when she was a young girl. She said she was blessed with a wonderful childhood, one of many siblings in a tight-knit Irish-American family that taught her the values of perseverance and hard work. The only thing she’s lost is her accent.

Her youngest sibling was a childhood cancer survivor — an experience that had a profound impact on her life.

“I knew pretty early on I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “They were the people I spoke to. When I went to visit [my brother], when we brought him in to the hospital or, unfortunately, when we had to stay overnight, they were the ones who talked to me. They were the ones who consoled my mother and really were the communicators and carers in that situation.”

Her brother is healthy now, but her love and appreciation for nursing persisted into adulthood. Before the pandemic began, Ms. Seguin would even still practice bedside shifts at Massachusetts General Hospital on the weekends.

“That’s my passion,” she said. “I’m a real nurse’s nurse.”

Ms. Seguin attended college at Boston University and received her advanced degrees at Northeastern, most recently her doctorate in nursing practice. She spent 25 years working at Mass General in a variety of capacities before starting as chief quality officer at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital in July of last year.

When Carol Bardwell, the hospital’s longtime former chief nurse, retired this spring, Ms. Seguin took over, combining her experience with nursing, quality and safety into a new position at the hospital called chief operations officer. The passing of the baton was a bit stressful, but Ms. Seguin said she had great team to help with every step.

“There’s an amazing cadre of nurses here who are very talented and driven. And I’m so fortunate to step into that,” she said. “I do stand in awe at the work that we’ve accomplished during the pandemic, and I’m honored and privileged to work with the team here. Maybe it just would have been a little slower.”

Known by her colleagues as a notorious early bird, she wakes up at five a.m. every day. If she has edits for colleagues, she sends them at six. With the pandemic still in full swing, she spends most of her day walking — from her home to the hospital — and then walking through scenarios and strategies with her team when she arrives. She doesn’t normally wrap up until 6 or 7 p.m., what she describes as a “good, solid day.”

She said it was her interest in working at a community hospital that drew her to the Island. She is a proud mother of four children, ranging from high school to post-college age, and wife to a husband of 25 years — all of whom still live off-Island and who she only gets to see on weekends or when schedules match up.

And unlike most Vineyard transplants, she’d never previously come to the Island on vacation.

“It was all work related,” Ms. Seguin said. “Even now, quite honestly, I probably don’t get out enough to see all the beautiful things. But I’m certainly trying.”

She got to see one on Friday. The hospital held an eight-minute, 46-second kneel-in with members of the Island community, including all six Island police chiefs, to show solidarity with protests for racial justice that have swept the nation. Ms. Seguin said it was that kind of community involvement she was looking for when she moved to the Vineyard.

“You just don’t see it as much in a large, academic Boston hospital,” she said.

And just as the pandemic doesn’t seem to be going away — affecting everything from nursing to patient care to hospital administration — Ms. Seguin doesn’t plan to leave either. She and her family are set to become permanent residents of the Island soon, having recently put in an offer on a home in Vineyard Haven.

It’s hard to run things when you can’t see the finish line. Ms. Seguin is used to it.

“It’s been a terrific experience,” she said. “It’s not over yet.”