|(Community Relations) -
Dedication of Lucero Medical Services Building and Memorial Services for Ernest Lucero, M.D. set for 11 a.m., Saturday, June 15, 2013.
by Marcia Morman
A close-up of the photo of Ernie Lucero as he stands shovel-ready for the ground breaking ceremony of the building that would be his office for the next fifteen years reveals the hint of a quirky smile—a smile that was often seen by friends and family and is remembered with much fondness.
What Dr. Lucero was thinking that brought a smile as he stood in the empty lot in Bonners Ferry, Idaho on an overcast day in 1998, is not known, but it is known that he was thinking, always thinking—even when he attempted a poker face his dark brown eyes would betray that his mind was whirling.
The breaking of ground by Lucero was not limited to the physical realm of his office building. Throughout the years, in his personal life, he broke new ground. Raised in the barrios of Los Angeles by his single mother, he struggled in school. He would later tell of being at the bottom of his class. “ I was a very poor studier, he explained. I couldn’t stay focused. My high school grades were very low. My mother’s desire was that I would finish high school, which I did.”
His mother had a second request; that he would never get a tattoo. In those times, and in that area, a tattoo represented a lifestyle of prison—both an actual prison, the penitentiary, most often referred to as the pen and a lifestyle of imprisonment to poverty, lack of education, drugs, and abuse. She wanted a better life for her son. He fulfilled both her requests. But, not without a struggle.
With an offer waiting from Uncle Sam, after what seemed like an eternity, Ernie finally graduated from high school. Enlisting in the United States Navy offered young Lucero a chance to further his education. The title assigned by the Navy was Hospitalman. Not knowing, and not caring what a hospitalman was, he joined to receive the free schooling. Taken completely by surprise, Lucero discovered he loved studying medicine. The more he learned, the more intense the desire to learn grew.
His life as a student flipped upside down. No longer was he at the bottom of his class, but quite the opposite, he graduated from Navy Hospital Corpsman School at the top of his class.
While serving two tours in Vietnam treating wounded and sick Marines, Lucero rose to the rank Hospital Corpsman Second Class. Learning of a new program sweeping the nation in the mid-60s called the physician assistant program, Ernie made plans to attend the University of Washington to earn certification in the program. When Lucero graduated from the University of Washington as a P.A., his class was the second one in the school’s history to graduate physician assistants.
After graduating, Ernie Lucero, P.A., accepted a job with Dr. Edwards in Bonners Ferry, Idaho in 1971. At that point, Idaho was still in the process of developing the rules and regulations that governed physician assistants. He worked with Dr. Edwards for ten years, treating and caring for patients often doing the work expected of a physician.
“He was so good as a physician assistant, we kept telling him that he should be a doctor,” enthused one long-time Bonners Ferry resident.
That is exactly what Lucero did. He promised Bonners Ferry that he would be back then he packed his luggage and moved to Pocatello to attend the Idaho State University where he gained an undergraduate degree in 1981 with a 3.9 grade point average. From there he attended the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.
The final step in his education was post-graduated training which he completed at the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake. As soon as he finished his schooling, he made a beeline for his home of choice, Bonners Ferry, where he set up his practice that continued the remainder of his life.
Dr. Lucero was part of the medical community in Boundary County for over 33 years.
Shortly before his death, he had joined Boundary Community Clinics in Bonners Ferry to be free of the cumbersome load of paperwork that accompanies a private practice. The official date of joining the Clinic was set for January 1, 2013. He was eager to have more time to devote to his patients in the practice of medicine. He passed away unexpectedly in his home on December 15, 2012.
Boundary Community Hospital Administrator Craig Johnson expresses deep sympathy to the Lucero family. “Dr. Lucero had a passion for medicine that was remarkable. He was a deeply caring person, brilliant, hard working, and optimistic. He will be missed very much.”
“Enough good things cannot be said about Ernie Lucero,” said Johnson. “His family, our community, our entire hospital family, and his patients have suffered a great loss. He was truly one of a kind and will not be forgotten.”
In honor of Ernie Lucero, and all of the community work he did, both in and out of his medical practice, the Board of Trustees of Boundary Community Hospital is dedicating the building where Dr. Lucero practiced medicine for the last fifteen years as the Lucero Medical Services Building.
The dedication, which includes a commemorative bronze plaque, will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2013 directly across the street from the front of the hospital in the parking lot at 6641Kaniksu Street. The dedication ceremony will be followed by a celebration of Ernie Lucero’s life at the Boundary County Fairgrounds Memorial Hall. Ernie Lucero’s family invites the community, which Ernie loved so much, to come and share in the day of remembrance with them.