First Responders Attend Portrait Dedication at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

Gloucester, Va. – Walking through the lobby of the Emergency Department at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital this week, Shannon Klink, BSN, RN, CEN couldn’t help but reflect on the men and women peering at her from the 30 custom portraits hanging on easels throughout the room.

“This is our family,” said Klink, the Nurse Manager for the Emergency Department. “We have all seen a lot of hard things together. We have been angels for each other. And seeing all these images tonight, and knowing they will hang on the walls of our hospital, is like having photos of your own family hanging in your own home.”

First Responders Attend Portraits Displayed at Dedication at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

On Monday, Jan. 6, 2020, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital unveiled a compelling series of commissioned images featuring the first responders from across the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck, the regions the hospital primarily serves.

The photographs were created by award-winning photographer Michael Taylor of the Williamsburg-based Sigmon Taylor Photography and will become part of a permanent exhibit in the hospital.

Photographer Michael Taylor, far right, Presents First Responder Portraits at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

“Our first responders are more than just our partners in health care,” said Esther Desimini, President of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. “They keep us safe.”

Over the years, first responders have brought in some 30% of the patients treated at the hospital, Desimini said.

“We have been providing emergency medicine in this community consistently since 1977,” Desimini said, “and it could never happen without the selfless and tireless work of our first responders.”

Riverside Walter Reed Staff and First Responders Celebrate Portrait Unveiling

Riverside Health System has been paying tribute to the first responders of the regions it serves through portraits by Taylor since 2014, starting with a series in the greater Williamsburg area at Riverside Doctors’ Hospital Williamsburg, the Peninsula at Riverside Regional Medical Center, and Tappahannock at Riverside Tappahannock Hospital.

“I’ve never had a project I’ve had more freedom in or with subjects that I’ve cared and admired so much,” Taylor said of the series. “I’ve enjoyed, loved, and put my heart into this project.”

Photographer Michael Taylor at the First Responder Portrait Dedication

In reflecting on the series, Taylor said he worked to properly showcase not just the first responders themselves, but also the place where they serve and the equipment and gear they use to protect a community.

“The equipment these men and women use is a part of them and they are so proud of it,” Taylor said, noting some images that feature fire trucks and boats, rescue vehicles and helicopters.

As for the locations each portrait was created in, that, too, was by design. “I tried to pick places that give a story to the area around the hospital and the community the first responders serve,” Taylor said.

First Responders Portrait on Display During Unveiling at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital

For the Riverside Walter Reed Hospital series, the images are set beneath the George P. Coleman Bridge, on Main Street in Gloucester, in the heart of the Guinea region in the most southern area of the community, and along marshes and creeks.

Over the course of the entire project, Riverside has commissioned 146 photos of first responder units.

The ages of participants have ranged from 16 to 76-years-old and represent SWAT teams, bomb units, dive teams, marine units, and helicopter teams, as well as law enforcement, fire and rescue units.

Published: January 9, 2020