Navigating Growth and Innovation at Riverside Medical Group

May 14, 2024

When Kathy Haley became the first nurse administrator at Riverside Medical Group (RMG) in 2003, the practice only had about 150 providers. 

Fast forward to today, when RMG is celebrating its 35th anniversary and has more than 750 providers – and counting. Haley, Director of Clinical Operations for RMG, has been part of the group’s remarkable evolution every step of the way over that quarter-century. 

“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun,” she says. “Things look very different than when I started, and it’s not just that we have 600-plus more providers. We’ve added such a variety of valuable programs and resources along the way, too.” 

Haley, a Riverside nurse for 49 years, first stepped into a leadership role in 2002 as Administrative Director of Ambulatory Residency Practices. In that position, she was responsible for Family Practice, OB/GYN and Pediatric programs for 1½ years. 

Then Mike Doucette, former Vice President of Riverside Physician Associates – the name didn’t change to RMG until 2007 – recruited her to serve as the group’s Clinical Operations Director (which later became the chief nursing officer), a position that hadn’t existed before. 

“He saw the importance of having the perspective, empathy and compassion that a nurse leader brings,” Haley says. “You simply need to have a nurse in this role, because it benefits everyone for our physicians and nurses to build strong collaborative relationships.” 

Over the years, Haley has played a critical role in onboarding dozens of medical practices into RMG, many of which didn’t have nurses on staff. She made sure that processes and policies were in place for all of them to meet RMG’s high standards and care philosophy, as well as to add resources such as electronic medical records and online payroll systems.  

Among the programs that Haley helped develop: a clinical Staff Development Department; Customer Service and Safety, including active patient surveys; training, monthly meetings and annual retreats for practice leaders; provider conferences; new provider orientation and 90-day reunion; and an Incident Command for inclement weather and disaster preparedness. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Haley was instrumental in providing education and supplies to primary care practices, organizing vaccine clinics for Riverside team members and the community, and implementing innovative procedures such as in-vehicle testing and triage. 

“We’d never done anything like that before,” she notes. “We had to act quickly and creatively in achieving our goal of keeping our patients out of hospitals.”

A native of Waynesboro, VA, Haley began volunteering at a community hospital at age 16. When she was 17, she had a summer job in food service at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, which included delivering trays to patients and handling simple tasks such helping them with their meals or brushing their hair and teeth. 
“Many of them were very young, and I loved being able to make a difference for them,” Haley recalls. “I knew then that I really wanted to be a nurse.” 

Immediately after high school, Haley enrolled at the Riverside School of Professional Nursing. She graduated in 1975 and worked in multiple roles at Riverside Regional Medical Center (RRMC) over the next 27 years, primarily in cardiology and critical care. One highlight was training in the open-heart surgery unit and caring for Riverside’s first patients there.

Haley’s positions at RRMC included Cardiac Rehab Coordinator, Director of Cardiovascular Services and Director of Staff Development. In 1998, she also took on responsibility for hospital-wide joint commission accreditation. 

“I enjoy tackling new challenges and learning new things,” she relates. “It’s been so rewarding to have a front seat to all of the growth at Riverside, and now to be here to celebrate a milestone anniversary for RMG.” 

Married with two adult daughters, Haley plans to retire by the end of this year and embrace her favorite hobbies of sailing and gardening. Before then, she will keep working on RMG’s ongoing evolution as the group – like medical practices across the country – faces a growing shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care. 

Haley now schedules Advanced Practice Provider students for rotations with Riverside, sometimes as many as 40 at once, which has been a good recruiting tool for RMG. “I see APPs having to play a greater role in the future,” she says. “We’ll need a strong team approach.” 

Yet Haley is confident that RMG will adapt: “We have a history of success that I’m very proud of. I’ve seen us come so far.”