News / Health

Hospital Prescribes Healing Dose of Nature

Hospital Prescribes Healing Dose of Naturei
X
October 02, 2013 1:34 PM
A growing number of U.S. hospitals and clinics are adding a dose of Mother Nature to their medical kit - planting gardens for their patients and visitors. Faiza Elmasry takes us on a tour of Johns Hopkins Hospital’s healing gardens and reports that although they were designed to look like little oases, they are more than just part of a pretty landscape. This report voiced by Faith Lapidus.

Hospital Prescribes Healing Dose of Nature

TEXT SIZE - +
Faiza Elmasry
— A growing number of U.S. hospitals and clinics are adding a dose of Mother Nature to their medical kits by planting gardens for their patients and visitors. 

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s healing gardens are designed to look like little oases, but they are more than just part of a pretty landscape.

Yoyo Caudill, 7, and his mother, Anna, are frequent visitors to the Baltimore hospital.

“We’re here on this visit because he was able to have a colostomy reversal," Anna Caudill said. "He's had a colostomy since he was maybe 5 days old.”

When Yoyo is allowed to walk around, he heads to the hospital’s Little Prince Garden, an outdoor space inspired by a classic children’s book. It's a space where he can climb on fiberglass asteroids, make plastic birds ‘fly’ across a futuristic overhanging sculpture and enjoy the plants picked specifically for kids, like sunflowers, shooting stars and roses.

“It’s a very good neutral zone in a hospital," his mother said."I think mentally it helps, [and] emotionally, give children a place of respite.”

That’s important, said Patrice Brylske, director of Hopkins’ Children Center, because being in the hospital is stressful for young patients.

“There is never an easy time for a child to experience hospitalization," she said. "They have a lot of fears when they come to the hospital."

Healthcare organizations and hospitals look for a way to minimize those fears.

"That’s what a healing garden represents," said Brylske. "[It's] a way for the children to be in the breeze, to touch the grass and see birds and butterflies and watch the change of seasons as it takes place.”

The Little Prince Garden is one of three healing gardens at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The spaces are open to young and adult patients, their family members and hospital staff. Hopkins official Sally MacConnell said they have become an important part of therapy.

“You don’t come to the hospital because you want to," MacConnell said. "You come to the hospital because you have to, but at the same time the healing of our patients has a lot to do with their emotional status. So the garden is really a dimension that we could provide that isn’t usually found in hospitals that could say something to every visitor; 'We have our garden because we really care about you.'”

Johns Hopkins Hospital’s gardens were all designed by Susan Weiler.

The healing gardens are a relatively recent phenomenon for hospitals and care facilities, but the idea of healing gardens is ancient. 

"You have to look at the Babylonians, 6,000 years BC, they’d already been doing hanging gardens, then the Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean wealth of gardens throughout different cultures of the Christian and Islamic cultures where gardens took on deeper meanings," said Susan Weiler, who designed the gardens at Hopkins. "But I think currently, the Italians still have a very strong garden ethic. Germans have a tremendous garden ethic. I think every garden has an aspect of healing.”

In addition to plants chosen to appeal to the senses of sight, hearing and smell, there are water features like fountains and pools. Even the placement of the garden itself has a therapeutic purpose.

“There has to be enough sun," Weiler said. "There has to be enough shade. There has to be accessibility. For every level, from the trees all the way to the ground covers, everything has a color and texture. There has to be a balance of it. You can’t have all reds and oranges. You need to have some of them. Blues and whites tend to calm people and violets, so there is an aspect of that relationship with the color.”

There’s a reason Weiler incorporated a variety of surfaces into the garden such as concrete, cobblestones and granite.

“I think when people see durable materials, it makes them feel calmer too," she said. "That stability makes people feel I’m going to be here tomorrow and the next year and the next year.”

The pleasant view comforts patients, even from inside the hospital.

“The building is 12 stories high that surrounds the gardens," MacConnell said. "So you could be walking into a hallway that overlooks the garden and just start to look at it and perhaps that would make you feel a little better, a little calmer.”

That’s the healing power of Mother Nature.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid