In this series, Healthcare Design asks leading healthcare design professionals, firms, and owners to tell us what’s got their attention and share some ideas on the subject.

Geoffrey Roehll is senior vice president with Hitchcock Design Group (Naperville, Ill.), specializing in landscape architecture and site design for hospitals and healthcare facilities. Here, he shares his thoughts on healing gardens and creative fundraising efforts to build facility gardens.

1. Location, location, location

Healing gardens have been gaining popularity as people begin to understand both the therapeutic and marketing value these spaces add to healthcare facilities for patients, visitors, and staff. However, space limitations often exist on hospital campuses. We’re working with our architectural partners to overcome this challenge by integrating gardens inside a facility, onto rooftops, in courtyards, or as entry spaces. We’re also finding that gardens are influencing how a building is programmed as more consideration is given to which patients would benefit the most from natural views.

2. Proof is in the numbers

Research has been available for some time on how access to nature through healing gardens can positively influence patient outcomes by providing a place of respite. Roger Ulrich is a leader in this field of research and has an evidence-based design approach called “A Theory of Supportive Design for Healthcare Facilities.” His research shows that improved health outcomes can occur as a result of stress reduction and buffering, which can be accomplished through purposeful design.

3. LEED connection

The LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Design and Construction – Healthcare Supplement, 2009 edition, also supports the inclusion of healing gardens in healthcare facilities. Projects can gain LEED points through SS Credit 9.1, titled “Connection to the Natural World – Places of Respite,” and SS Credit 9.2, titled “Connection to the Natural World – Direct Exterior Access for Patients.” To quote the guide, “Providing patients with access to nature may shorten hospital stays, and reduce stress, depression, and the use of pain medication.”

4. Creative financing

Even though signs point toward the importance of healing gardens on healthcare campuses, many times they’re value engineered out or scheduled as part of a future phase of work. We’re finding that many of our clients are looking to donors or other fundraising efforts to help build their gardens. Also, some clients have repurposed construction restoration funds to build a healing garden rather than restore tired landscape areas.

5. More than just a sign

Wayfinding is critical to providing a positive first impression and hospital experience, and involves making sure site design elements are properly positioned. Questions, such as “is the parking adequately allocated and near the intended entry?”  or “is the signage appropriately sized and does it incorporate the healthcare provider’s corporate branding to create a campus sense?” are just a few of the considerations that should be discussed.

Geoffrey Roehll

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