EAST CAMPUS: Boone Hospital Center promotes healing through natural environment

Monday, October 3, 2011 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Patients and visitors will soon be able to enjoy the soothing sounds and natural beauty of Boone Hospital Center's newest addition, a healing garden.

The idea for the garden was tossed around as part of the original construction plan for the hospital, but it was the Boone Hospital Foundation and Executive Director Barb Danuser who made it a reality.

Danuser said it is the foundation's job to identify resources, which provide enhancements to the hospital. She said the foundation thought it would be beneficial to use the empty space on the east side of the hospital, between the new patient tower and the old building, as the site for the quiet place.

"It's the perfect protected area between the new tower and the existing tower," Danuser said.

The garden has been under construction since the beginning of September. Before construction began, Danuser said she had seen patients already using the garden, which was a courtyard at the time.  

"It was open for a couple of months, so it was just a teaser," she said.

Danuser said people sometimes just need to get away from the hospital environment, so the purpose of the garden is to provide that opportunity for everyone.

Jacob Luecke, the hospital's public relations specialist, said research has shown that the natural environment is beneficial to patients and the healing process.

"The garden is the biggest way to incorporate nature in the hospital environment," he said.

Luecke said he found that healing gardens were once very important in healthcare. Gardens are becoming popular again, and Danuser said she thinks they will be seen more and more because it's something everyone can appreciate.

"It's just an uplifting place," Danuser said. "It's beneficial even if they can't get outside."

Danuser said the foundation wanted the entire community involved in building the garden. They have made it possible for anyone to donate money or buy items to be engraved. These items include wall panels, bridges, trees, a waterfall, benches and stone pavers.

Many people have purchased the stone pavers to honor loved ones, doctors and caregivers. The pavers are three different sizes and will be used at the center of the garden. Some will have generic sayings such as "Live, laugh, love" while others are more personalized, for example, "We love our Boone baby" with the baby's name and birth date, she said. 

"First we invited employees and physicians to participate, and the response was great," Danuser said.  

Now more than 200 of the pavers have been sold. The larger items, such as benches and bridges, sold out almost immediately. In addition to the items being purchased by individuals and groups, Danuser said Boone County National Bank gave $10,000 to sponsor the courtyard at the garden entrance to the hospital.

"Opportunities will always continue for people to purchase items because people always want to honor someone," Danuser said.

The garden is making progress and is on schedule to be completed by the end of November, she said. The dogwood trees will be planted this fall, and the garden will be open to everyone.

"It is going to be beautiful," Danuser said. 

For more information about giving opportunities, visit the Boone Hospital Foundation website, or contact Barb Danuser at 815-2801.

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