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Gift of a garden

<p>Vanda Domingo and NHCH communications coordinator Krista Anderson pose with a photo of Dr. Keith Nesting. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Vanda Domingo and NHCH communications coordinator Krista Anderson pose with a photo of Dr. Keith Nesting. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)

A memorial sits in the garden of North Hawaii Community Hospital inspired by the work of Dr. Keith Nesting. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
A memorial sits in the garden of North Hawaii Community Hospital inspired by the work of Dr. Keith Nesting. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Vanda Domingo often spends quiet time in the garden, sometimes talking to the plants, giving chants or prayers, ending each by clapping her hands. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
Vanda Domingo often spends quiet time in the garden, sometimes talking to the plants, giving chants or prayers, ending each by clapping her hands. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)
<p>Vanda Domingo checks in on the North Hawaii Community Hospital garden. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)</p>

Vanda Domingo checks in on the North Hawaii Community Hospital garden. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE TARLETON| SPECIAL TO NHN)

Tucked away in a secluded green space behind Waimea Medical Associates offices is a private retreat created by Vanda Domingo, licensed practical nurse. With donated plants and her own two hands, Domingo carved out “Dr. Nesting’s Garden” as a tribute to her former employer, longtime North Hawaii community physician, Dr. Keith Nesting.

Domingo said that Dr. Nesting had a big house off Lindsey Road in Waimea, where his favorite “gardenia tree” grew and flourished. When she discovered a smaller specimen behind the building, she was inspired to make something special in his honor.

“It’s his place. It’s his tree,” she said.

Dr. Nesting’s Garden features ti leaf and other healing plants, as well as hapu (tree ferns), decorative succulents, flowers and shrubs. It is a peaceful place for rest and reflection, open for anyone who needs a quiet moment with nature.

In the 1960s, Nesting had an office in the Parker Ranch Infirmary, now Parker Square. He once treated 5-year-old John F. Kennedy Jr. for minor burns from a beach campfire, while the family was being hosted by Laurance S. Rockefeller.

After Lucy Henriques Medical Center opened in 1977 with an emergency room and X-Ray lab, thanks to a community effort spearheaded by Parker Ranch owner and heir Richard Smart, Nesting and other doctors practiced there as Waimea Medical Center. In 1988, Domingo graduated from University of Hawaii-Hilo Community College and went to work for WMC as a brand-new licensed practical nurse.

“The reason I became a nurse is because I love people. I love caring for them,” said Domingo, who has been doing what she love for nearly three decades, 22 with WMC. Now on the staff at North Hawaii Community Hospital, which opened in 1996 and merged with “Lucy’s” in 1999, she has watched the community grow—and seen patients she knew as children bring in children and grandchildren of their own.

“It was an honor to work for WMC,” said Domingo. “I have a lot of aloha for this place … I am a servant of this land.”

The land, once known as Makahikilua, is adjacent to NHCH, part of a 12-acre parcel donated by Lucy Kalanikumaiki’eki’e Davis Henriques in 1932, which she had inherited from cousin Lucy Kahi’ehi’e Peabody four years prior. The two Lucy’s shared a common wish to provide for the health needs of North Hawaii.

“Sometimes you can see Lucy coming and going in the mist,” said Domingo. “At nighttime, I like to come and spend some time here. I always pule (pray) and thank Lucy for her gift.”

And thank you, Vanda, for your gift to Dr. Nesting and to all of us.