"The doctors that come to Riverside Walter Reed Hospital and the Middle Peninsula come here for a way of life."

When Dr. Fred Arnold moved his family to Gloucester, Va. to open a urology practice in 1985 he thought "worst case scenario, it will be like an Air Force assignment and we'll be here three years and move on." But then the retired Air Force colonel fell in love.

He fell in love with the Middle Peninsula way of life that fostered a sense of community. He fell in love with the camaraderie shared among the medical practices thriving here. And he fell in love with the way the Riverside Health System physicians, which Arnold aligned his Walter Reed Urology practice with, treated patients the way they would treat their own families. "It was the right fit," Arnold said. "It was then and it is now."

Today, Arnold serves as the Riverside Middle Peninsula region's Service Line Chief, overseeing the Riverside Health System physicians on the Middle Peninsula. "The way I see it, I'm an encourager," Arnold said. "Encourage new doctors to come here to work. Support their efforts. Help us all work together in the hospital and around the community and give the best quality care we can."

Riverside's range of medical services offered on the Middle Peninsula are anchored 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, 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, a couple miles down Main Street from the hospital campus, Riverside also 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's Urgent Care helps patients get in to see a physician when an emergency room visit isn't necessary.

"We get comments from patients that are passing through Gloucester and need medical services," Arnold said. "They find it hard to believe that we are a community hospital and have the range of care we do - five day a week cardiology and neurology, for example." And the thing is, Arnold said, the quality of care and access to care has been a staple here since he arrived in 1985. Riverside Walter Reed Hospital had been open for about eight years at that time and it very much "felt like a small town hospital that was supported strongly by the community."

Even though it's much busier today, with an even broader range of services, in many ways, the medical community is still very much the same. "There's always been a sense of community here," Arnold said. "Back then, we didn't have any formal connection. We weren't all tied to Riverside Medical Group formally. We were all in private practice. But we still all referred to each other." The Riverside medical community, Arnold added, is very much engrained in the community itself. "The physicians here are very visible and really engaged in the community," said Arnold.

Arnold leads the way when it comes to giving back, both at large and among medical professionals. Among other volunteer work, Arnold has also served as the President of the Medical Staff three times, the Chief of Surgery, President of his Rotary Club, been named Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year, is a founding member and first Medical Director of the Gloucester Mathews Free Clinic, is on the Board of Directors at the hospital, has coached various sports, been a Sunday school teacher and a volunteer physician for the Haiti Mission, which he's supported since 2001.

"It's all about community," Arnold said. "You can add all the technology in the world, all the specialties, all the staff, all the physicians, but if you don't know how to care for your community, it's all lost. That's what it's like here in Gloucester. That's the Riverside Care Difference."

Published: February 28, 2014