A hospital's healing grounds

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Dennis Hines | August 25, 2016

EDGERTON — The outdoors is what drew patient Terry Astin in to do his cardiac rehabilitation at Edgerton Hospital. 

Astin, of Janesville, visits the hospital about three times a week. During his sessions, he often has a clear view of the hospital's healing garden.

“I could've done my rehab in Madison or Janesville, but the gardens convinced me that Edgerton Hospital was the place I wanted to do it,” Astin said. “I dabble in growing plants myself, so it's kind of relaxing to me. I like the way it's laid out with all the plants and birds and bees.

“When I'm doing my cardiac rehab, it's nice to look out the windows and see all the flowers and wildlife. I've seen deer and turkey (near the garden).”

The garden, which was dedicated in 2014, continues to expand with the newly added George and Nancy Parker Pergola and Circle Labyrinth Garden and the Ruth “Toot” Larson Roth Memorial Pavilion.

“The whole idea of the garden is to provide a healing experience above and beyond the physical needs, so patients don't look out onto an asphalt roof or a parking lot,” said James Schultz, Edgerton Hospital president. “When they look out a window here, they see a nice, pleasant experience.”

The garden features a variety of plants, a pond, a walking path, trees, a bridge, sculptures and a waterfall.

The new pavilion has been used for weddings, family gatherings and community events.

“We might have an inpatient here who has a picnic lunch,” Schultz said. “Employees will come out and see it to have lunch or come out and relax.”

The garden also includes an area with low-impact mats.

“On nice days, yoga instructors will have their yoga classes out here,” said Bonnie Robinson, director of the Edgerton Hospital Capital Foundation. “I think it's a really peaceful place where people can come and restore their spirit.

“The general public can come out here as well as the patients. You don't have to use the hospital to come to the gardens.”

Residents can donate money for the garden to have a bench, planting bed, path marker or brick named in memory of a loved one. There's also a donor wall that includes the names of people who have helped fund the garden.

More than two dozen volunteers help to maintain the garden. In addition, some patients work in the garden as part of their rehabilitation, Schultz said.

“It's all a part of the therapy and rehab of our patients,” Schultz said. “It's not all exclusively ... conventional healing, but it's at least having them be in touch with nature and the aesthetic part of their experience here.”

Garden club members and officials from other hospitals have visited the Edgerton garden to get ideas, Schultz said.

“A lot of hospitals are in metropolitan areas and they're restricted. We have 70 acres and this was in our plan,” Schultz said. “To add on afterwards, (other hospitals) have some barriers to overcome, but I think healing gardens are becoming more popular, especially as therapy for patients.”

The healing garden has been in the works since the hospital was completed in 2011.

Robinson said the garden is pretty much completed, but some artwork still will be added.

“It's been done in segments as we've raised money for it,” Robinson said. “Having the pergola and circle garden really anchors the garden.”

The garden features are definitely a plus for patients like Astin. After his sessions, he often walks around the garden to take photographs.

“After rehab I follow the path and look at the flowers,” Astin said. “I usually have my eye out for birds and butterflies. It's very relaxing.”


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