More than 100 well-wishers packed the community center on June 30 to pay tribute to Ed and Virginia Lester and to celebrate the couple’s retirement from the Point Roberts Clinic.
“It was standing room only,” said hospital district superintendent Elaine Komusi. “It was the most crowded I have ever seen the community center.”
Describing the Lesters’ role in the establishment of the clinic, Henry Rosenthal recalled the history of the clinic and how it all began with Ed Aydon who collected thousands of cans in the hopes of creating a clinic for seniors. He described the Lesters as “the dream team.” Fire chief Nick Kiniski spoke of the larger role the Lesters have played in the community.
“There are battleships, there are sailing ships, there are warships, but there’s no ship like friendship,” he said. “Thank you for dropping your anchor here.”
Many speakers were tearful, Komusi pointed out, which underscored the vital role the pair have played in bringing medical care to the community. “She didn’t just affect the patients she saw. She changed the face of Point Roberts forever,” she said of Virginia, who has spent 10 years as the health care provider while Ed provided laboratory services at the clinic. “You have to have that necessity here for families, and she set the tone for the future.”
Virginia spoke of how she came to the Point and was pulled out of retirement when Glen Gelhar from Interfaith Community Health was meeting with members of the Point Roberts Pioneers at the marina and they sailed in. “He said there was one person he knew who could do this but they had retired. Then he looked out the window and spotted our boat,” she said, adding thanks to all the members of the Pioneers, especially Brian Canfield, for securing the grant that allowed the clinic to be established.
Virginia also thanked the voters of Point Roberts for approving the creation of the hospital district and the collection of taxes to subsidize clinic operations. “This became the community’s clinic. They own it,” she said.
Describing their years working in Point Roberts, she said, “It’s the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done.”
Following speeches there was food and music by the Point Roberts Woodwinds. “I don’t think I’ve ever hugged so many people in my life,” Virginia said following the event. “Let’s do it again!”
The Lesters will remain on the job until September when nurse practitioner Alexandra Hunt joins the clinic. Komusi said Hunt has big shoes to fill but has the qualifications, experience and personality to do it.
“She has an amazing background,” she said.
Hunt has run her own rural family medicine practice, holds a masters degree in community health nursing, is qualified in obstetrics, gynecology and midwifery, acute care and episodic chronic heath care management, and has run well-child clinics in rural areas.
“This woman is super capable with great skills and experience with all populations,” Komusi said.