CSU, Chico News

Nursing Students Help Build Health Clinic Honoring Former Classmate

Date: 05-01-2015

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Darcy Hostetter-Lewis
School of Nursing

May 6 Fundraiser Includes Screening of Film Featuring Kristina Chesterman: “The Power of the Heart”

Ground has broken on a health clinic in southern Nigeria honoring deceased California State University, Chico nursing student Kristina Chesterman, thanks largely to the efforts of her former classmates.

Chesterman, who was killed by a drunk driver in September 2013, dreamed of providing health care to underserved regions of Africa. Since her death, CSU, Chico nursing students have raised about $45,000 toward construction of the Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic in Ozu Abam, Nigeria. When completed, the clinic will serve women and children in the service-sparse region.

On Wednesday, May 6, a screening of a documentary film touching on Chesterman’s life will offer one more opportunity to support the clinic’s construction.

“The Power of the Heart,” directed by Drew Heriot, who also directed “The Secret,” features several inspiring stories, including Chesterman’s and the five lives she saved through organ donations. Featuring cultural icons Maya Angelou, Paulo Coelho and Deepak Chopra, among others, the film explores the powerful role the heart can play in people’s lives.

The screening begins at 7 p.m. at the El Rey Theatre, 230 West 2nd Street in Chico. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3 for students and children and will be available at the door 30 minutes in advance.

The Kristina Chesterman Memorial Clinic is being built as a sister clinic to the Upon This Rock Medical Center, which was built in Ozu Abam in 2012 by James Umekwe and his organization Clarrion Call.

Beyond providing basic health services, the students have committed to expanding the clinic’s impact by creating a curriculum to help improve the level of service offered.

“I feel like this honors Kristina because it’s the way she did things,” said graduating nursing student Kayla Kriech. “She would have wanted to help the most people possible, not just 300 people or 400 people you can reach on a single-service trip. She’d want to know these people, know how to take blood pressure, take a temperature and recognize malaria... It’s more sustainable that way.”

Nursing professor Darcy Hostetter-Lewis, who is heading the project, said the goal is to send a group of nursing students to Nigeria each semester. “This way, one group of students will assess what needs to be done, the next group can develop the entire curriculum, for example, and each semester the students can build on what the group before does,” she said.

Since the clinic’s conception, the students have organized numerous fundraising efforts. Umekwe is donating the land, but about $80,000 to $100,000 is needed to make the project a reality. Hundreds attended a walk/run fundraiser in April in Bidwell Park; the students are also selling personalized tiles to be placed in the clinic and holding several bowling events in Livermore, California, Chesterman’s hometown.

Though an operational date hasn’t been set, Kriech says she hopes to be able to travel to Nigeria during the construction phase “to feel more connected with it.” In a way, the clinic project has allowed her to remain close to the friend who inspired her.

“I know it sounds silly, but whenever I’m facing a challenging situation I ask myself, ‘What would Kristina do?’” she says. “That’s how I push myself to be like her and be the best I can be, because she was such an amazing person.”

Hostetter-Lewis echoed those sentiments, adding that the clinic will serve as tangible evidence of the impact Chesterman would likely have had if she had lived.

“She died, but it kind of feels like she’s going to win,” she said. “She’s inspired me in a big way. I was perfectly happy working in gestational diabetes and sleeping in my 700-threadcount sheets. Now I do nothing but the clinic in Africa. And I’m happy doing it.”

Proceeds from the screening of “The Power of the Heart” will go toward clinic construction costs and to improving the safety of bike trails in Chico. The author of the book on which the film is based, Baptist de Pape, will be in attendance. More information about the book and film, including a preview, is available at www.thepoweroftheheart.com.

Learn more about the clinic project, including how to donate, at www.kristinachestermanclinic.org.