Nigerian clinic to be built in honor of deceased nursing student

Risa Johnson

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Upon This Rock Medical Center

Workers laying out the land in the early stages of the clinic building last year.
Photo courtesy of James Umekwe

A group of nursing students have more than finals in mind this week. These students are commemorating a lost friend.

Friends of former Chico State student Kristina Chesterman are fundraising to build the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic in Nigeria, Africa. They hope to break ground this summer and finish building in summer 2015.

Kristina Chesterman was a senior nursing student killed in a hit-and-run incident on Nord Avenue in September.

The group of about 30 students, faculty and others began work about two months ago and need $75,000 to $100,000 to build the facility. They received about $500 so far, said Kayla Kriech, a senior nursing major.

“I’m stressed but excited,” she said. “It’s a way we get to honor our friend.”

The idea for the clinic began at Chesterman’s memorial service, when Darcy Lewis, a nursing instructor, learned that Chesterman wanted to participate in Doctors Without Borders.

Lewis is working toward completing a doctorate program at the University of Hawaii and finally came up with a project idea she had been searching for, she said.

“It occurred to me that it might be good to make something permanent,” Lewis said.

Lewis did some networking and teamed up with James Umekwe who owns land in Nigeria and built Upon This Rock Medical Center there last year. The Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic will be a sister clinic to this one.

Only after the planning began did Lewis learn that Nigeria was actually where Chesterman wanted to work.

Primary health concerns in Nigeria include diabetes and women dying from infections during delivery, Lewis said. The clinic will focus on women’s health, diabetes and pediatrics.

“We want to give them more access to care,” she said.

Project Salvage All Valuable Equipment of Enloe Medical Center is helping out with the project.

The school of nursing is currently not officially involved with the clinic, Lewis said.

The nursing instructor plans to take students to the clinic when it is built, she said. Any student is welcome.

“It’s been really amazing, the amount of students interested in helping out with the clinic,” Lewis said. “It would be nice to have help from people of other majors who have interest in the project.”

Chesterman’s parents support the clinic, and Lewis checks in with them frequently, she said. The nursing student clearly left a large impact on the people around her.

“It’s important that we’re honoring her dreams and goals in a way that’s always positive,” Lewis said. “We don’t want to do anything that’s less than the best we can do.”

Upcoming fundraising events for the clinic include: a Valentine’s Day dinner, a cut-a-thon at Twisted Strands Salon in March and a 5K and 10K run in Bidwell Park in April.

Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or @risapisa on Twitter.

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