Mother Nature’s healing touch

Mother Nature's healing touch Garden designed to heal heart and soul By: David Lias
Plain Talk With the snip of a ribbon during a special ceremony Monday, a dream of the Dakota Hospital Foundation became reality. The Healing Garden, designed to provide therapy to residents of the Sanford Care Center in Vermillion, is now complete. The garden, sandwiched between two wings of the care center, has all of the elements of a rural setting rather than that of a medical institution. That�??s exactly one of the goals designers of the garden had in mind. The garden includes a patio, where residents, patients, visitors and staff may socialize and enjoy the outdoors all year long. A circular pathway in the garden allows for a continuous loop for those who may wander due to disease or anxiety. The pathway is constructed of two colors to separate social areas from private areas. This element is incorporated to guide those with dementia to stay on the circular path. A special feature of the garden is raised planters to encourage participation in the planting of the flowers by residents regardless of whether they are in a wheelchair or able to stand. The planters can be used by physical and occupational therapy programs to work on fine and gross motor skills, strength training and stamina. Items that give a unique touch to the healing garden are a vintage International truck, a windmill, a mail box and a water pump fountain. These elements were included to facilitate reminiscence, memory enhancement and socialization for all who enjoy the garden. The healing garden project began in 2004 with an invitation to the South Dakota State University horticulture department class to create a conceptual design. The project moved from concept to design completion thanks to strong involvement from the Vermillion community. �??The community just stepped forward on this project, and the contributors came from all areas,�?� said Gene Lunn, Dakota Hospital Foundation director. He praised the Vermillion Civic Council, the Vermillion Area Community Foundation and the Sanford Hospital Chairman�??s Grant for providing much of the needed revenue to make the project a reality. Individual financial contributions also played an important role in making the garden a reality. �??The most amazing thing about this garden is the people that it has brought together,�?� said Tim Tracy, CEO of Sanford Vermillion Hospital. �??It really is that bringing together of everyone as a community that is so incredible.�?� Tracy is particularly proud of the hospital and care center staff. Through payroll deductions, they all set aside a portion of each pay check to help fund the healing garden, and recently they presented the Dakota Hospital Foundation with $19,200 to help pay for the garden�??s construction. Tracy, like Lunn, also expressed gratitude to businesses, organizations and individuals who stepped up and offered donations to turn this concept into a reality. The Healing Garden is the first of its kind in the region designed specifically for the dementia population while also incorporating intergenerational community involvement in one area.

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