The Healing Garden is in bloom at Wilmington Hospital, a tranquil oasis in the heart of the city for patients, their loved ones and health care providers.
Dedicated on June 24, the garden is the gift of the Junior Board, which donated $1 million to design and develop the space, sited in a large, open courtyard formed by the hospital’s four interconnected buildings.
“The Junior Board has a rich history, dating back to 1888 to build Wilmington’s first hospital,” said Robert J. Laskowski, M.D., MBA, president and CEO of Christiana Care Health System, thanking the board for the gift and its legacy of service.
Dr. Laskowski said the garden is a symbol of a larger transformation. Wilmington Hospital is blossoming, too, through a $210 million transformation that includes a new Emergency Department, 120 private patient rooms, a new surgical suite with 13 operating rooms and four procedure rooms, and a state-of-the-art medical office building.
“This is a very special hospital,” said Diane Thomas, Junior Board immediate past president. “We knew we wanted to be part of this important initiative.”
Edmondo J. Robinson, M.D., MBA, physician-in-chief at Wilmington Hospital, said board members are valued partners in promoting the health system. Volunteers in pink jackets log thousands of hours each year.
“I can always count on a friendly, smiling face when I walk into the hospital,” he said. “This Healing Garden is an example of that community support.”
Barbara Burd was Junior Board president in 2008 when the group committed to funding the garden. The project evolved through her presidency, followed by Ann Kappel and then Thomas.
“We had never made a contribution that large, and it was exciting to think that we could provide a garden that is relaxing and also can be utilized to help patients,” Burd said.
Patients at the Center for Rehabilitation focus on regaining skills lost to brain injury on various walkways in the garden that represent surfaces they will have to navigate after they leave the hospital. The pathway curves and slopes, and includes expanses of cobblestones, brick, slate, concrete and cement embedded with pebbles.
“You go to church and there are the stone steps, very much like the ones in the garden,” said Sharon Kurfuerst, vice president, Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Services. “You go to Walmart and there is a parking lot you have to go through to get to the store.”
Patients also build their cognitive skills, planning how they will get from the Center for Rehabilitation on the sixth floor to the garden at ground level.
“It requires checking the weather and then deciding how you will dress to go outdoors,” Kurfuerst said. “You have to think about the route you will take to get back to the sixth floor.”
The garden encompasses a pond and fountain, plantings of azaleas, rhododendrons and other shrubs, and peaceful seating areas outfitted with benches.
Anne Hume, 91, is a longtime member of the Junior Board. While she was being cared for at the Center for Rehabilitation for a broken leg, she worked with her recreational therapist, Monica Foy, learning to navigate the garden in her wheelchair.
“Being outdoors is something that is part of my life,” she said. “I come to this beautiful garden every day and I feel restored.”