Barbie Cook, left, site manager of the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital, accepts a framed picture of Lillian Fraser from Floyd Tucker, of the North Shore Archives. Tucker made the presentation during a special celebration for the hospital’s 50th anniversary, as well as opening of the new healing garden. Submitted photo

Patients, staff, and visitors of the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital now have a special space to head to – a healing garden.

The healing garden was a joint vision between hospital staff and the auxiliary, which started back in 2014.

“We wanted a place where patients and their families could go to escape their hospital walls and enjoy fresh air and scenery while remaining in a safe and relaxing environment,” said Barbie Cook, site manager at the hospital. “Patients often spend extended periods of time in hospital and it is very important for them to have the ability to go outside and get natural vitamin D. Healing gardens in health care facilities have been shown to improve health outcomes. These spaces provide a place of refuge and promote healing in patients, families, and staff.”

The gardens, said Cook, promote relief from symptoms, stress reduction, and improvement in an overall sense of wellbeing and hopefulness.

“Health care staff also have a high stress level on a daily basis and this type of space can offer them the few minutes of peaceful reprieve that they may need at any given time,” she added.

The funding for the healing garden came from the efforts of the hospital auxiliary. Susan Stewart said the auxiliary has three main events annually – a Chowder Fest in March, Strawberry Fest in July, and helping with Sara Bonnyman’s open house in October.

“We also receive donations from the community through Scotiabank matches, memorials, and personal donations,” said Stewart.

The auxiliary had funded the main construction of the garden, and any landscaping, such as flowers and shrubbery, was not included in the initial cost. For anyone wishing to donate to the landscaping, they can contact Barbie Cook at the hospital. Barry McKay Ltd. was the local contractor for the project.

“As the garden just opened we have not had the opportunity to discuss any future plans for the garden. Our project is complete for now,” said Stewart.

The hospital and auxiliary celebrated the healing garden with an opening, which saw about 50 people in attendance. Guest speakers included Colchester North MLA Karen Casey, who also presented the hospital with a certificate for their 50 years of service, Dr. Nicole Boutilier, Stewart, and Harold Giddens, from the hospital foundation. Floyd Tucker represented the North Shore Archives and presented a framed picture of Lillian Fraser, with her biography underneath.