In 1977, as Riverside began to grow, Kent Taylor took a job at the health system's newest hospital, Walter Reed. He wanted to come to Gloucester, where his wife's family was from. He wanted to be part of a small community where he could give back. "And I didn't want to be just a number," said Taylor, who retired last year as Riverside's Middle Peninsula region's Director of Human Resources. "I wanted to be recognized as an individual. At Walter Reed, I always felt like an individual." That, and the people, kept him coming back every day for more than 44 years.

On Thursday, Jan. 29, Riverside Walter Reed held its annual Service Pin Dinner and recognized Taylor and his colleagues who have helped foster world-class health care on the Middle Peninsula for five or more years each. Riverside's leadership team recognized 66 people who collectively represented 1,040 years of service, including six people who have been with Riverside for 35 years, four who joined the health system 30 years ago and 13 who had been there for more than two decades. Another four team members, like Taylor, the last of Walter Reed's original directors , were celebrated for their recent retirements. "The folks in this room tonight represent the most loyal and dedicated of our 400 plus team members," said Megan Kleckner, Riverside Vice President and Administrator of the Walter Reed Hospital. "It's a privilege to…work alongside you."

That loyalty and dedication comes easy, said Tracey Kellum, who joined Riverside 25 years ago and serves as the first impression of the hospital in patient access and registration. "Riverside…it's part of my family," Kellum said. "Family is who I work with and who I serve. We have a small town feel here and we take care of our community. We take care of people we know like they are family."

It's why Dixie Sharp, RN, who technically retired several years ago, just can't give Riverside up. She still works labor pool and was awarded a 35-year service pin on her actual 36-year anniversary. "I just haven't been able to give it up," Sharp said. "Being here is good for my whole being."

Easby "Buddy" King can understand not wanting to leave. King retired from a three-decade-long career with Xerox before joining the Riverside Wellness Center in Gloucester five years ago where he currently works as a fitness instructor helping new clients learn the ropes of the gym and teaching them how to use the equipment. Everyone is loyal, he said, both to each other, Riverside and the patients and clients they serve.  "We all have a focus on the customer, on the patient," King said. "We're all about providing quality service no matter what you do." Or, for that matter, how long you've been part of the team.

"Ten years is just the beginning," said Courtney Love, a 2002 Mathews High School graduate who joined the Riverside team a decade ago after graduating from the Riverside School of Health Careers, where she studied radiology. "I'm here for the duration. We're here as a team for our community and I can't imagine ever leaving."

2015 BREAKDOWN OF TEAM MEMBERS RECOGNIZED AT SERVICE PIN DINNER:
18 received five-year service pins (90)
11 received 10-year service pins (110)
14 received 15-year service pins (210)
5 received 20-year service pins (100)
8 received 25-year service pins (200)
4 received 30-year service pins (120)
6 received 35-year service pins (210)
4 were recognized for their retirement
Total Years of Service: 1,040

It was a night honoring those who were celebrating milestone anniversaries with Riverside or retiring from the same, but at the core of everything said, done and celebrated were the patients and clients each person serves. "Tonight was about celebrating our team members," said Tabetha Holt, Director of Human Resources at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, "It was about how they have lived and are living the Riverside mission of caring for others as we would care for those we love. The many years of service represented this evening are a testament to our dedication to our patients, customers, family and friends"

Published: February 3, 2015