VA Illiana Health Care System, Danville, Illinois
In an ongoing effort to combine Planetree and Veteran Centered Care initiatives to provide physical environments that can enhance healing, health and well-being, we had a ribbon cutting ceremony for our new Healing Garden. The Healing Garden is located between Buildings 101and 125 and incorporates access to nature in a therapeutic setting for the Alzheimer’s and Community Living Center (nursing home) residents of Building 101.
The Healing Garden began as a Veteran Centered Care funded initiative championed by then Patient Advocate, Jennifer Gerrib, the Veteran Centered Care Committee, Dr. Par and the Culture Change Committee for the patients of Building 101, Wards 7 & 8. It culminated with the Chief of Engineering, Jim Cullum tasking Engineering Tech, Tonya Moore, with designing, bidding and finally managing the construction of an environmentally conscience, 12,000 sq. ft. Healing Garden for Veterans, families, and staff to enjoy, relax, recharge, and appreciate. Tonya Moore took the original suggestion and quickly realized that a great deal of additional space between Buildings 101 and 125 could be converted for the project’s needs and would relieve the VA Engineering Staff of maintaining a difficult area. The Healing Garden now encompasses Wards 5-8 and features a picnic pavilion, water feature, gazebo, pergola, patio seating, multiple bird feeders, squirrel feeders, garden benches, as well as providing a small basketball court (with adjustable rim), a putting green, and a shuffleboard court. There are raised flower beds for Veterans in wheelchairs to work with plant materials as well as "green" roofs with vines which will continue to grow from the rain and sun and require no additional maintenance.
Special attention was paid to maintaining a flowing "wandering" path that loops continuously throughout the entire garden and is designated by colored concrete to prevent stopping points that may be confusing to the Alzheimer patients. This path remains level throughout the garden and is fully accessible to wheelchairs. There are benches along this path so that Veterans and their family may rest while they are walking through the garden.
The Danville Garden Club Four Season Study Group has adopted the Healing Garden as their community project for 2011 and will work with Voluntary Services and Engineering to assist with maintaining this beautiful addition.
A "Special Thanks" goes to the numerous Veterans Service Organizations (VSO’s) and individuals that donated to help make this happen.