St. Louis design firm creating ‘healing gardens’ for hospitals

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It was Hippocrates who said, "Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity." Never is that more true than in Joplin, Missouri, where four years after a devastating tornado, their hospital is healing from the inside out.

"We took the 100 acre site and helped them site the hospital so that you can view it from the highway as well as connect it to the community so there's many entrances to that large facility and each of those entrances has a healing or therapeutic garden space," says Bonnie Roy, Partner, SWT Design.

St. Louis based SWT Design created this healing garden that lets cancer patients take their treatment to the great outdoors.

"We took special measure to think about how they would make that transition," says Roy.  "Everything is really smooth so they can move IV's and wheelchairs and things like that."

Mercy is making more of their healing garden experience all over Missouri.  Up next is a redesign of the Jefferson campus in Crystal City

"Hospital visits can be stressful at times and we try to do everything we can to reduce that anxiety and stress," says John Farnen, Executive Director Strategic Projects Mercy.


At the former St. John's, in West County, now known as mercy, a statue of Sister Catherine McAuley stands watch over this healing space.

"One of the unique challenges of St. John's plaza is that most people don't realize is that this is a rooftop," says Roy.  "There is inhabited space below."

That`s two floors of space, in fact.  But this transformation to a healing garden is sitting well with doctors, designers and patients.

"We really feel like we want to do what's right for our patients and really create an environment where they can relax and reduce their anxiety because if we can reduce stress levels it certainly helps the healing process," says Farnen.

Whether plants are a placebo or an old world idea, coupled with modern medicine, it might just be what the doctor ordered.

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