Riverside Walter Reed Main Entrance Expansion Completed in 2019

Gloucester, Va. – Riverside nurses who support and serve the Middle Peninsula community of Virginia can now access specialized oncology training thanks to the recently established George T. Abernathy Oncology Nursing Residency Program, the health system announced this week.

A generous gift to the Riverside Foundation from Susan and Bob McCreary, in honor of Susan McCreary’s father, George T. Abernathy, funded the program, the first of its kind within the health system.

George T. AbernathyAbernathy, an executive for Newport News Shipbuilding, was a well-respected community leader until his passing in 1984. He was a member of the original Riverside Hospital Board of Managers from 1951 to 1984, and also served as a Board Member for Riverside Walter Reed Hospital when it opened its doors to the Middle Peninsula community in 1977.

Lasting six to nine months, the curriculum of the oncology nursing residency program will provide learning opportunities such as pre-arranged mentorships, clinical rotations, conferences, educational materials and dinner lectures with nationally known oncology leaders. Ultimately, the program aims to develop a subspecialty of cancer care nursing, a network of cancer nursing professionals on the Middle Peninsula, and help prepare nurses to become eligible for the National Oncology Nursing certification.

To be considered for the program, applicants must meet established criteria, including licensed as a registered nurse, express a desire to gain an increased oncology nursing expertise, and showcase a commitment to providing the best standard of care for patients at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital and the Middle Peninsula community.

“All of the nurses I’ve worked with over the years are full of joy and life and a deep desire to serve patients,” said Esther Desimini, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital president, who will help select applicants with the hospital’s Chief Nursing Officer. “This is a fine example of us tailoring our needs to the community and supporting our nurses who already give so much of themselves and would like to strengthen their sub-specialty expertise.”

The addition of the oncology nursing residency program, which is now accepting applications and is scheduled to launch in 2020, speaks not only to the needs of the Middle Peninsula community and the patients Riverside team members serve, but also to Desimini’s personal commitment.

Desimini is an oncology nurse specialist and nurse practitioner by training. During her specialty training at a cancer care hospital, “I was surrounded by colleagues – nurses, social workers, physicians – all of whom were deeply committed to excellence in oncology. We all knew and understood the unique needs of a cancer patient and their families.”

But, Desimini said, more than 85% of cancer care in the U.S. is provided in a community hospital, like Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, and not in a specialty cancer care hospital. This generous gift will help support ongoing excellence in oncology nursing care right within our own community hospital.

“On the Middle Peninsula, Riverside's breadth of oncology services are available to meet our community wherever their needs are – from Riverside Walter Reed hospital, physicians, clinics, home health and hospice," Desimini said, “by this generous gift we will continue to strengthen our focus and access to ensure we are delivering high quality, evidence-based care to our community.

To learn more about the Riverside Foundation, visit riversideonline.com/foundation. To learn more about Riverside on the Middle Peninsula, visit riversideonline.com/RWRH.

Published: December 9, 2019