Hospital garden helps healing

Garden designer Jon Coe with nurse unit manager Christine Wittkopp. 200213 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Jed Lanyon

 Healesville Hospital’s wellness garden is nearing its completion as it aims to support the recovery of patients and aid family members and staff.

The new garden was the design of Healesville resident Jon Coe, who came up with the idea for a wellness garden during an overnight stay at the hospital as a patient last year.

“One of the major causes of stress is lack of control. And boy, when you’re in a hospital, you don’t have much control,” he said.

Nurse Unit Manager Christine Wittkopp said that the project had been funded entirely through donations and had raised over $90,000.

“To me, that is a true sense of community that our local community was able to see Jon’s vision,” she said.

“People came and helped us with planting, some people purchased plants. The community has donated items and donated their services.

“So while we say we have raised this much financially, it’s the goods and services that have been able to make it come to fruition.”

Mr Coe had previously been involved in the creation of wellness gardens in the United States and said that many features of the garden will have a personal story behind them.

One of which includes plans to implement a memorial for late Indigenous Elder Aunty Dot Peters, who spent her final days at the hospital before her passing in September.

“We have those kinds of connections that are just deeply personal. I don’t think we appreciate the spiritual significance of the journey that people take when they are here,” Mr Coe said.

“Gardens like this can help people on that journey.

“Some people deal with stress socially, so we have a gathering spot. Some like to be more private, so around the corner we have some benches.”

The garden is catered for those who are in wheelchairs to enjoy the garden beds at different heights and also features gradual slopes to aid patients who are rehabilitating and learning to walk again.

“Seeing the patients come out here instead of walking up and down the corridor is so rewarding,” Ms Wittkop said.

“I just couldn’t believe at the beginning that we would have something like this.”

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