If you have never had to stay overnight at a hospital, consider yourself lucky. The feeling of being confined to a small room, with equipment beeping, and a bevy of doctors and nurses wandering in and out at unpredictable times can be stressful, even in the best of hospital settings. Patients at the Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee, Wisc., can now escape to the new Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds Healing Garden and the Agnes and Morland Hamilton Healing Conservatory.

While most hospitals have outdoor areas for patients to visit, many bed-bound individuals are excluded from this benefit. The designers of the healing garden at Aurora St. Luke’s have ensured that even patients confined to their hospital beds can get out of their rooms and experience the outdoors. The pathways in the healing garden vary from five to eight feet wide and hospital beds can be wheeled through the garden.

Although it may be obvious that visiting a healing garden will have a positive impact on patients, studies have been conducted to look at the positive emotional effects that plants and flowers have on people.  

  • Flowers can positively affect one’s mood
  • Flowers help people connect better with family and friends
  • Working with plants and flowers can provide pain relief through distraction
  • Group activities can be planned, which provides a much needed opportunity for social interaction.
The new rooftop healing garden and conservatory will provide respite for patients but the facility was also designed with the environment in mind.  The project is in the midst of the LEED certification process and although the process is not finalized, the facility has secured enough points for the base level LEED certification.

A few of the features that have helped the project in its LEED certification pursuit include the use of a living roof on the 4,000 square foot glass conservatory, planters and walkways now cover 3,774 square feet that was previously filled with concrete roof pavers, adaptive and native plants were chosen, hot water radiant heaters were installed, and locally-sourced building materials were used.

Aurora St. Luke’s cardiologist, Dr. Bernard Staller had this to say about the healing garden, “The concept was appealing to me from the outset.  This will be very uplifting for patients and families.  Good care is not just about healing the body, but healing the emotions and spirit.”  Source: Aurora St. Luke’s

One long-time patient at the hospital is also excited about the garden’s dedication.  Julie Campbell has been a patient at the hospital for more than a year.  She is tethered to a total artificial heart (TAH-t) and so moving herself and the machine have proven tricky.  She will be able to take advantage of the new garden with its wider pathways.

“I’ve been watching them building it from my window,” Campbell says. “I can’t wait to get in to see it.”  Source: Aurora St. Luke’s

The hospital is located at 2900 W. Oklahoma Avenue in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  For more information on the facility, visit the Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center website.

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