News / Health

Hospital Prescribes Healing Dose of Nature

Hospital Prescribes Healing Dose of Naturei
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
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

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

Report: US to Sail Warships Near Disputed S. China Sea Islands

Move will signal nonrecognition of Chinese territorial claims over area, Financial Times reports, citing senior US official More

Study Describes Ancient Deltas, Lakes on Mars

Research builds on recent NASA announcement that water flows on red planet today More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanoni
John Owens
October 08, 2015 7:32 PM
Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs