Inova Alexandria Hospital dedicated its cancer center to patrons and Alexandrians Joe Viar Jr. and his life partner, Bonnie Christ, during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon.
The day included the unveiling of a new sign for the center with Viar and Christ’s names. Viar is donating $1.25 million to the hospital as part of a Legacy of Life gift through his estate.
On Wednesday, Christine Candio, CEO of Inova Alexandria Hospital, called her time at the hospital an incredible journey.
“I’ve been going on five years now at Inova Alexandria Hospital, and we don’t stop, do we Joe?”
“No, we don’t,” Viar said.
“It’s what’s next, and there’s just such progression and great things in this organization and our health system,” Candio said.
The estate gift is not Viar’s first contribution to the hospital. Candio said in 1989, Viar and T.J. Fanon led a campaign that raised more than $3 million to create the cancer center. For the hospital’s Project 2010 project for capital improvements, Viar, along with the hospital board, led a $25 million campaign, she said.
“We have blossomed,” Candio said. “We’ve had a lot of firsts at the hospital, especially in the cancer center.”
Viar compared the behind-the-scenes work going on at Inova Alexandria like the thrashing of the legs of a duck who glides smoothly across a pond.
“(They are) all thrashing away, raising millions of dollars each year to fund state-of-the-art equipment, new technology and education, to support the mission,” he said. “Together, we are changing people’s lives. This is especially true in the cancer center.”
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille thanked Viar and Christ not only for what they have done for the hospital, but also for the city as it continues to grow.
“In Alexandria, we are very proud and pleased of the fact that we indeed have a community hospital that is so resourceful and provides so many different types of services to those in need,” Euille said.
The center treats more than 500 patients per year, which equates to 2,500 radiation procedures. Inova Alexandria radiation oncologist Dr. Matt Poggi called Viar and Christ’s latest contribution to the hospital an affirmation of their commitment to the hospital and cancer center.
“I really take a lot of pride working here in Alexandria, because I know it’s a hospital where whether you have cancer, whether you’re going to have a baby, whether you’e going to have surgery, everybody’s treated very nicely,” Poggi said. “In essence, everyone’s a VIP.”
In 2010, Viar was named one of Alexandria’s “Living Legends.”