Hospital to Gauge Health Benefits of Therapeutic Garden


A hospital in Portland, Ore., has received a $560,000 grant from the TKF Foundation to design and build a therapeutic 6,800-square-foot, four-seasons garden onsite, then measure stress levels among patients, family, visitors, and staff members who go to it.

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center was awarded one of six National Open Spaces Sacred Places grants last June. The center is part of the six-hospital Legacy Health system, which serves the greater Portland region and Vancouver, Wash., and has a history of innovative green spaces connected with its hospital and hospice facilities, explains Teresia Hazen, MEd, HTR, QMHP, a registered horticultural therapist, Legacy’s director of therapeutic gardens, and the grant’s project manager.

The garden will be built in an open-air terrace between the hospital's family birth center and cardiovascular ICU. Grant funding will support incorporating such design elements as portals and pathways, public spaces, and areas where visitors can have some privacy, reflecting therapeutic garden characteristics defined by the American Horticultural Therapy Association, Hazen says. Researchers will then monitor the stress levels and heart rates of expectant mothers and their babies in utero, family members visiting ICU patients, and hospital staff members who spend time in the hospital garden.

Isadora Roth, MD, a hospitalist at two Legacy Health hospitals, appreciates the availability of hospital gardens for her patients and herself. "I often see patients out there, and they seem happier, more relaxed, and less anxious," Dr. Roth says. "I really think it has therapeutic benefits."

The new garden is scheduled to be completed in December; data will start to be gathered next April, Hazen says. Legacy also is planning a Therapeutic Landscapes Symposium on April 4, 2014, in Portland.

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