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Changing of the guard a bittersweet celebration

Posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

John Peterman and Liz Martin at Riverside’s recent press reception.

John Peterman and Liz Martin at Riverside’s recent press reception.

Alongside two major upcoming anniversaries for Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, staff announced that John Peterman will take the place of Elizabeth “Liz” Martin as the hospital’s new administrator.

Martin, who for 18 years has served RTH as its Vice President and administrator, is moving into the position of Riverside Health System’s Vice President for Quality, which is based in Newport News.

“I’m really, really proud of what we’re doing here and the outcomes for our patients,” said Martin. “What I’ve enjoyed about working here for 18 years is that I don’t have to wait to get a report from [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] to find out how we’re doing.

“I can walk through Wal-Mart and talk to my friends and my neighbors and I know how we’re doing,” Martin added with laughter. “I think that’s helped us to improve faster than we might have otherwise because we get that really close feedback in the community.”

Martin first became the chief executive of Tappahannock’s hospital in 1995, six years after Riverside acquired and renamed the financially troubled Tidewater Memorial Hospital.

As administrator, Martin was part of RTH’s push to build a medical community under the Riverside Medical Group and emphasize local care.

“We have established certainly a good, strong core of physicians for whom this  became their home and they’ve tracked their careers here over those 25 years,” said Martin.

In addition, Martin spoke to developing both primary care and specialty care services, which helped create a multi-specialty hospital for the region.

“For a community this size, a facility this size, we have a lot more breadth than most do,” said Martin, adding that Riverside had expanded its reach to communities in Callao, Burgess, King William, Warsaw and Westmoreland County.

Outside of her work with the hospital, Martin is a member of the Essex County School Board, the current Chair of the Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance Board of Directors, Vice President of the Tappahannock Free Clinic Board of Directors, a member of the Peninsulas Emergency Medical Services Board of Director and Past President of the Tappahannock-Essex County Chamber of Commerce.

While working in Newport News, Martin will still reside in Essex County and remain active in her community, including helping with preparation for Tappahannock’s annual RivahFest.

“You can’t live here and not be involved. It doesn’t work,” said Martin smiling. She added it was “really important” for her to ensure Riverside’s “great transition” to Peterman’s leadership.

“He has a great skill set to bring to our community and to this hospital,” Martin said. “I’m really excited about the choice that was made for John to take this role.”

While a newcomer to RTH, Peterman boasts more than 25 years of health care experience, including recent tenure as Administrator of Riverside’s Cardiac, Vascular and Pulmonary Service Line.

As Peterman steps into the role of RTH Administrator, he anticipates continuing the quality service provided by the hospital and growing its medical staff.


“A hospital is a community resource, and what makes a community strong is having access to health care,” said Peterman. “I think our primary goal is that… we continue to build on that and keep it local.”

Peterman added that RTH had a unique responsibility as one of Essex County’s largest employers.

“From an economic perspective, building that, keeping it strong is key,” said Peterman, who stressed that Riverside must work to provide medical services such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and telemedicine that the community would be able to access immediately as opposed to having to drive to distant locations such as Richmond or Fredericksburg.

“Health care is moving from bricks and mortar hospitals into access, and access means doctor’s office and specialists,” said Peterman. “So whether they’re here [in Tappahannock] or whether they’re in Callao or in Burgess, that’s part of the vision.”

Peterman also called Riverside the “epitome” of a not-for-profit organization.

“That’s really important to me personally…what we’ve generated here in this community or in any of our other communities, we keep it here and we reinvest it,” said Peterman. “We’ve actually reinvested everything we’ve made here and pulled from other places to enhance here.”

Peterman is in the process of transitioning to the Tappahannock area.

“Some personal interests ,certainly are getting out and meeting folks,” said Peterman, who will assume the leadership role for Riverside in the chamber of commerce.

The changing of the guard precedes both the 50th anniversary of Tappahannock’s hospital as well as 25 years of Riverside’s place in the region.

“People want you to be better, they want you to succeed and in general I think the community’s working for us. They really want us to be better,” said Martin. “We always try to tell folks, ‘Every time you choose to get your care here, you make your hospital better,’ and so we want to keep pushing that message forward with our 50th anniversary coming up next year.”

For more information about Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, call 804-443-3311 or visit