Riverside College of Health Careers hosted a reception early this month where over 100 community members, dignitaries, faculty members and alumni celebrated the school's rich history and bright future. The school started in 1915 as an integral part of Newport News General and Non-Sectarian Hospital which would later become Riverside Regional Medical Center.
Nancy Littlefield, Riverside Chief Nursing Officer, and Barry Gross, M.D., Riverside Chief Medical Officer, highlighted the evolution of the school from its beginning as a nursing school to today's certificate and degree programs in Professional Nursing, Practical Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Surgical Technology, Physical Therapist Assistant, Sterile Processing Technician and Medical Assistant.
"We've graduated over 5,700 nurses, radiologic and surgical professionals and physical therapy assistants," said Dr. Gross. "The college and its programs have a reputation for dedicated faculty and staff, excellent clinical preparation and consistently high pass rates on their respective national certification and licensing exams."
The Honorable Matthew James, delegate as well as President and CEO of the Peninsula Council for Workforce Development, spoke to the emergence of health care as a major economic engine in most communities.
"The high caliber of health care definitely factors into our ability to attract new business to our region," acknowledged James. "Riverside has done an outstanding job of creating innovative programs that both respond to changing needs and result in a well-trained workforce that delivers consistent, quality care."
In an effort to further promote collegiate-level nursing education and increase the number of highly qualified nurses treating patients throughout Riverside Health System, on January 1, 2015, the Riverside School of Health Careers began a partnership with Old Dominion University's School of Nursing. This relationship has resulted in Riverside's school becoming Riverside College of Health Careers.
"There is an initiative nationwide to have 80 percent of the nursing workforce with a BSN by 2020," explained Karen Karlowicz, associate professor and chair of ODU's School of Nursing. "Through this partnership, we will be able to get more nurses with a BSN in the workforce very quickly because we have expedited their path to that degree."
Closing remarks by Riverside President/CEO Bill Downey acknowledged the crucial role of community support in meeting the school's mission. Riverside College of Health Careers received a donation of nearly $1.2 million, the largest one-time donation ever received by the college. The gift came following the settlement of the estate of Ruby Pope Drumm, a 1948 graduate of the Riverside School of Professional Nursing, who died in 2004.
Special guests at the reception included Tom Pope, the nephew of Ruby Pope Drumm, his wife and sister-in-law. According to Pope, his aunt was quite clear with her intent to make a bequest to her beloved alma mater. The gift from Ruby Pope Drumm provides funding for scholarships for registered nurses. The college also has eight additional scholarship funds, managed by the Riverside Foundation.
The college reception was one of several events in recognition of the 100th anniversary of Riverside Health System. To learn more about Riverside College of Health Careers, visit
Published: June 12, 2015