Sanford Vermillion Medical Center integrates memory recall with therapeutic activities using a healing garden that opened in 2008. The garden provides quiet spaces and activity areas for physical and occupational therapy.
The healing garden spans over 6,000 square feet and includes reminders of days gone by: a 1941 International truck, windmill, two-bottom plow and hand pump water feature. Raised flower beds and a vegetable garden highlight the rural landscape familiar to local residents.
Bringing back memories
Hospice nurse Joanne Martin watches the faces of dementia patients brighten in the healing garden. “They identify with things,” she said. “It pulls the memories out of them. It improves the quality of their life for a few minutes.”
Staff members have found many ways to incorporate the garden into everyday care and treatment. “We probably haven’t even begun to touch what it can do,” said Bob Brockevelt, rehab services manager at Sanford Vermillion.
Funded by donations
“Including the value of in-kind donations, the garden cost approximately $150,000,” said Gene Lunn, Dakota Hospital Foundation director. The effect it has had on patients is priceless.
The Healing Garden concept had been a vision for the Sanford Health Vermillion Care Center since 2004.
This post was originally published July 16, 2008, and updated June 15, 2019.