If you ask Pat Booker she’ll tell you passionately, “Riverside has been part of me since birth. It’s my roots.” Booker was born at Riverside’s old regional hospital in Newport News on 50th Street, began following her dream of going into medicine while in high school, graduated from Riverside’s School of Nursing, becoming an LPN, in 1975, began working at Riverside Walter Reed Memorial Hospital when it opened in Gloucester in 1977 and this year celebrates her 40th anniversary with the health system, where today she serves as the Middle Peninsula’s Manager of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Respiratory Therapy.  “Riverside has made me what I am today,” Booker said. “Riverside has been such an integral part of my journey, always supporting me and allowing me to support the patients we care for.”

Booker was among 75 people honored Thursday, January 21st at Riverside’s annual Middle Peninsula Service Recognition Reception. Each team member honored had served the Middle Peninsula community for five or more years. Collectively, Booker and her colleagues represented more than 900 years of service, including four people who have been with Riverside for 30 years, four who joined the health system 25 years ago and eight who had been there for more than two decades. Another three team members were celebrated for their recent retirements. 

“The people here, that’s what makes this place so special and what I miss about it already,” said Connie Leigh, who retired as the Executive Assistant in the Walter Reed Hospital’s Administration office late last year. “Here, everyone looks out for one another and our patients. There are good people here, people you can count on, people who are dedicated to this community.”  Connie retired from Riverside to work with her husband, Barry, full-time at their family farm and business, B & C Produce in Gloucester.

Service Pin 2016 mid pen






Shown here from left to right: Connie Leigh who retired after 15 years with Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, Pat Booker of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital celebrating her 40th year with Riverside, Virginia Johnson of Riverside Convalescent Center in Mathews and Darryl Longworth of Sanders Retirement Village in Gloucester both celebrating 10 years with Riverside

“The folks honored,” said Megan Kleckner, Vice President and Administrator of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, “represent the most loyal and dedicated of the 700 plus team members across the Middle Peninsula.” “It’s a privilege to work alongside each of them,” Kleckner said, “providing care for every member of our community just as we would care for those we love.”

For Virginia Johnson, who was honored for her 10 years of service at Riverside Convalescent Center - Mathews and her role as a Certified Nursing Assistant, that love is what it’s all about. “I no longer have my mother, father and grandparents,” said Johnson, a Mathews native. “Every resident I care for I care for like they were my very own. It’s the residents; the people, that make this job so special. It’s what makes it more than a job.”

Herman “Darryl” Longworth, the Director of Maintenance for Sanders Retirement Village on Gloucester’s Main Street, agrees.  In his role, Longworth said, he’s responsible for the very things people may not think about daily. Infection control, maintenance of grounds and buildings, environmental issues. “But when someone thanks thank you for being there, for making it a nice place to live or for just stopping to listen to old stories, it means a lot,” Longworth said. Having Riverside stop to celebrate the dedicated years of service means a great deal, too, Longworth said. “I enjoy everything I do, the residents and the people I work with,” Longworth said. “I’m dedicated to whatever I do and glad to be dedicated to Riverside.”

Riverside is proud to celebrate these team members and honor the dedication to our patients and residents that these years of service represent.

Published: January 27, 2015