The benefits of a team approach to cancer treatment - coordinating your care within a group of medical professionals from different specialties who work together to plan and carry out your treatment - are well established through research studies and years of experience. For that reason, the Riverside Cancer Care team consists of numerous physician specialists and subspecialists along with nurses and radiation therapists who are trained in cancer care.

Additionally, pain management specialists, nutritionists, social workers and counselors, as well as a wide range of other medical and allied health care professionals regularly meet to discuss treatments, personal and emotional needs, and any other aspects of care and support that the patient needs. The Riverside team includes specialists in the following areas of cancer treatment.

Medical oncologists are physicians who are specially trained in the treatment of cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy, hormones and other therapies. Riverside medical oncologists work with a comprehensive team of specialists to coordinate individualized care for each patient.

Riverside Peninsula Cancer Institute & Infusion Center:

Riverside Peninsula Cancer Institute & Infusion Center


Riverside Shore Cancer Center

Riverside Shore Cancer Center Onancock


Riverside Cancer Specialists of Tidewater & Infusion Center

Riverside Cancer Specialists of Tidewater & Infusion Center 

For more than half a century, we’ve been providing pathology services to physicians throughout Eastern Virginia from our state-of-the-art, hospital-based lab at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News. We are known for having the highest standards of excellence in fast, reliable service, the very latest technology and a staff with a scope and depth of experience second to none. Learn more here.

Meet our team:

David M. Smith, MD

A physician who practices surgical oncology performs surgery to diagnose, stage and treat cancer.

Colorectal Surgery

Physicians who perform colorectal surgery are general surgeons who have completed additional training in the surgical treatment of colon and rectal disorders, including cancer.

Ear, Nose & Throat Services (Otolaryngology)

ENTs are surgeons who specialize in treating problems of the ears, nose and throat, including cancers of the head and neck.

Gynecologic Oncology

Physicians who specialize in gynecologic oncology treat women with cancers of the pelvic and reproductive areas.


Neurosurgeons are physicians who specialize in surgeries of the brain and spine, including cancers of these areas.

Thoracic Surgery

Thoracic surgeons are physicians who specialize in chest surgery, including lung cancer surgeries.

See also Riverside Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery


Urologists are physicians who specialize in the treatment of urological disorders, including treatment of bladder and prostate cancers. Visit Urology

Cancer patient navigators become a personal guide through the complexities of health care in general and cancer care in particular.

  • Renea Acree, MBA, MSN, RN
    Head and Neck Cancer Program
  • Laura Browder, BSN,RN,OCN
    Colorectal & Digestive Cancer Program
  • Mary Cleckler, BS, RN, OCN
    Prostate Cancer Program
  • Elizabeth Jenkins, BSN, RN, OCN
    Breast Cancer Program
  • Christine Johnson, BSN, RN, OCN
    Breast and Lung Program for Middle Peninsula
  • Francie Verniel, BS, RN, OCN
    Lung Cancer Program
To connect with the outreach and patient education office, please call 1-800-520-7006.

Long-standing patient navigator program at Riverside

As one of the nation’s first health systems to add Patient Navigators to our cancer care team, Riverside provides consistent and coordinated care through this extraordinary team of patient advocates. Across every Riverside location, cancer patients will find the support critical to managing every aspect of their care plan from diagnostics through treatment, recovery and survivorship.

Leadership with cancer care clinical teams

As disease-specific experts, our patient navigators are critical members of the cancer care Tumor Boards and Cancer Committees to improve cancer care standards across the Riverside Health System. They reduce or eliminate barriers to services or resources that patients need and improve patient outcomes because of quick access to those services.

At Riverside, cancer care teams include oncologists and treatment specialists that are critical to your treatment decisions. Your care team also includes your nurses and patient navigators that are essential to bringing clinical issues to the team that affects your health and well-being. This collaboration means that you receive the best care possible through these unified conversations.

Quality improvements to standards of care

Patient navigators serve on critical Cancer Committees that truly affect quality standards and protocols that improve cancer care across the Riverside Health System. In some cases, when quality standards or protocols are brought to the Tumor Board team, changes can be implemented efficiently because the entire team is part of the discussion. One example of improved protocols is that pathologists now test for specific markers by types of cancer – for every patient. This consistency of care is implemented across all Riverside locations for all cancer patients. Patient navigators are at those meetings and part of the care decisions to bring those protocols to patients immediately.

Clinical experience and oncology certification for all patient navigators

All patient navigators started their careers in patient care as infusion nurses, radiation oncology nurses or inpatient nurses. They are seasoned cancer clinicians and experienced in every aspect of care. They are specially trained as oncology-certified nurses, which means they have over 2,000 hours in cancer clinical care in preparation for certification exams. Their long-established relationships with the cancer team at Riverside means that patients benefit from their access to resources and support needed. Our patient navigators take a proactive approach to care, anticipating treatment side effects and getting ahead of any concerns with staying strong to fight your cancer.

Helping patients understand what to expect

Patient Navigators have helped thousands of patients through all aspects of cancer care so they can help patients understand what to expect with surgery, treatments, rehabilitation, integrative medicine or palliative care. They meet with patients before and after surgery to monitor progress, prepare patients for the next steps and reassure them every step of the way.

One of the most common side effects of cancer is weight loss, resulting from decreased appetite, fatigue or side effects such as nausea or difficulty swallowing. Your patient navigator will monitor your weight and bring in the dietary team for consultation and make sure your cancer care team knows how treatments affect your weight and strength. They can provide wellness resources and support for various options to keep your energy and well-being positive.