The Lebanon hospital is one of only a few in Oregon to incorporate a garden's recuperative and stress-relieving powers
Lebanon - The full-grown trees offer shade and solace, the waterfalls and ponds serenity. It's a new direction in medicine known as the healing garden, a place where people can leave behind the stressful aspects of their lives for a few quiet moments.
Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital has become one of only a handful of hospitals in Oregon to implement the concept of a garden's soothing qualities.
Research has shown that viewing gardens can reduce patient stress and improve health outcomes while also having the ability to reduce stress among employees and visitors. A 1991 study showed that gardens have the ability to have a positive effect on blood pressure, heart activity, the brain's electrical activity and muscle tension.
Earlier this week the Lebanon hospital held an open house to unveil the new feature.
The Japanese-inspired garden was designed and built by Portland landscape architect Hoichi Kurisu, who has built gardens all across the United States, as well as in Mexico and the Cayman Islands. In Oregon, he has worked with hospitals in Portland and Bend as well as in Lebanon.
Kurisu said that while the Lebanon project is not his first healing garden, it is different than any other he has built.
The area used for the project was previously a grassy spot surrounded on three sides by the hospital, where visitors and staff could get outside for a brief respite.
It is now totally enclosed by a hospital breezeway on one side, the birth center on another, a new addition to the hospital's Health Career and Training Center on a third side, and the future site of a new intravenous therapy center.
The garden will offer a tranquil view from all four areas.
Kurisu said the healing garden is actually four gardens in one.
"The center area is the backbone," he said. "And the four sides are separate, distinct gardens."
Kurisu said the infusion center garden has the most impact with its pond, which will be stocked with koi, and waterfall, while the garden outside the birthing center is softer and the one outside of the classroom has more of a slope to it. When the infusion therapy center is built, it will extend over the pond.
Betty Koehn, director of the Lebanon Community Hospital Foundation, said the garden will be nice for those receiving IV therapy - which includes chemotherapy - because they spend between four and six hours at the hospital.
Kurisu said there is currently a national movement toward healing gardens in order to increase patients' comfort.
"This is one of a few hospitals to get this involved," the architect said. "Most hospitals would rather buy an X-ray machine."
The cost of the garden, about $400,000, is being picked up by the foundation, with more than half the money coming from a bequest from the estate of the late Dora Kellenberger Hall.
Bob Adams, co-chairman of fund-raising for the garden, said this project had 100 percent support from the foundation board, the hospital board and the board of Samaritan Health Services.
Adams said there was so much support for the garden that it only took two months to raise the needed funding.