When Mary West joined Riverside Health System in 1978, she had no idea that more than 35 years later she'd be recognized by her leadership and peers for her decades of service to the community. "This is like my second family," said West, who officially retired from full time work two years ago but stayed on part time as a greeter doing registration at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. "I love coming to work. I love the people. I love the front line. I love the patients and being able to have a smile and be positive for them when they walk in the doors."

Riverside Walter Reed recently held its annual Service Pin Dinner and recognized West and other team members who have served the healthcare needs of Riverside, Gloucester and the Middle Peninsula for five years or more.  Riverside's leadership team recognized 108 people who collectively represented 1,155 years of service, including seven people who have been with Riverside for 35 years, three who joined the health system 30 years ago and 18 who had been there for more than two decades.

"We celebrate and honor team members each year at our Service Pin Dinner. We are grateful for our staff's many years of service to our patients and our communities," says Megan Kleckner, Vice President/Administrator of Riverside Walter Reed Hospital. "Their dedication to their patients shows as they live the Riverside Care Difference of safety, kindness, healing and respect. They embody our mission of caring for others as we would care for those we love and we appreciate them all."

Betty Wyatt, who earned her 25-year service pin, joined Riverside because she had a lot of friends and family already working there and because it was close to her home. She's stayed for more than two decades because "I love my job and I love people. At Walter Reed, it doesn't feel like you work for a large company. Here, everyone knows everyone and they are like family."

Today, Wyatt is a team leader and hostess for nutritional services and responsible for ensuring the kitchen runs smoothly and that all patients get what they need. "I always put the patients first," Wyatt said. "My patients are my heart."

Riverside's range of medical services offered in Gloucester are anchored near the Main Street business corridor by Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, which opened in 1977 and has grown into a 67-bed acute care facility that provides comprehensive services and state-of-the-art technology to the communities of the Middle Peninsula.

Hospital services include emergency, inpatient and outpatient surgery, imaging and laboratory. In addition to family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery practices, the 30-acre campus surrounding the hospital is home to the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center, the Middle Peninsula Cancer Institute, Home Care and Hospice, a therapy suite that includes physical, nutrition, speech, hand and occupational therapies, cardiology, gastroenterology, a Nephrology and Sleep Center, orthopedics, ophthalmology, otolaryngology, physiatry, urology, vascular and women's health.

For older adults, Riverside opened the first fully deinstitutionalized nursing home in Virginia – Heron Cove at Sanders – and runs the only full continuing care retirement community in the county – Sanders Retirement Community. Near the southern end of Gloucester, Riverside also operates an Urgent Care center.

Published: March 5, 2014