Green space outside of Atrium window revitalized

News / General
By Lisa Callahan

Donation for plants and landscaping a heart-felt gift to patients, families and staff

Anyone sitting in the Atrium space and reflecting out the window will have noticed a striking transformation. The hillside view has had a makeover — gone are the unsightly weeds and exposed plastic retaining structure and in its place freshly planted flowers and shrubs, new natural stone retaining walls and fresh mulch.

"Gardens are supposed to bring comfort and the healing to those in distress. There was little comfort given by the hill of weeds,” remembers Phyllis Davis, Patient Experience Advisor and donor. “Each day I spent in the cafeteria starting at it, I thought about the gardens that my husband Chuck and I had nurtured at home. It made me want to get out there and weed.”

Davis spent a lot of time staring at those weeds as she stayed by her husband’s side for nearly five months until his passing. During that stressful time she remembers being supported by many KGH staff and was looking to give back to the hospital that provided her husband with such excellent care.

Davis came to the hospital to speak with Daryl Bell, Lead of our Patient- and Family Centred Care initiative about becoming a Patient Experience Advisor. As she stood in the hall waiting to talk to Bell there was an impromptu introduction to Marjorie Woodbridge the Chaplin at KGH. Woodbridge had just come from a garden meeting and was trying to figure out how to get the project off the ground.

“When I learned that it was the Atrium garden that she was talking about it was as if Chuck was speaking through me as I offered a donation to make it happen,” said Davis. “She just stepped forward with a financial solution without a second thought,” said Woodbridge. “What is even more remarkable is that she stayed with us as we worked to finalize this garden and create a more peaceful space for everyone to enjoy.”

Many studies show that after a stressful event, images of nature quickly produce a calming effect. In a Swedish study, researchers found that patients viewing an outdoor image or scene were less anxious and needed fewer doses pain medicine than those looking at abstract art or no pictures at all.

“I am so pleased to look out at the Atrium garden now and see beautiful plants that will provide a chance for people to find a place of peace in the midst of their ordeals. It took many hours and a lot of work by a multitude of people to make this happen,” said Davis. “Chuck always gave me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for special occasions. The Atrium garden is 'a bouquet of flowers' to all those who touched our lives. It is Chuck's last big 'Thank You' to you all.”