Bringing a Different Kind of Healing to Hospitals

Julie Lasky speaks with Mikyoung Kim, an award winning landscape architect who's most recent projects find her designing gardens in unlikely settings - like the 11th floor of a hospital in Chicago.

Kim discusses two recently completed projects, the "Sky Garden" in Chicago and "Project Ripple" at the Jackson South Community Hospital in Miami, and her general approach for bringing a different type of healing to hospitals.

On the incongruity between natural landscapes in clinical settings:

We want our health-care professionals to be objective and not emotional in assessing our state of being. But at the same time there’s a growing awareness that clinical environments work against the good work that doctors do — that they may actually increase stress levels, not only in patients but in their families.

On the constraints posed by working in hospitals:

There’s such a range of people who come to any hospital: there are people who are just there to get a vaccination and then there are kids who’ve had four transplants. We had to create a safe environment for kids with severe immune deficiencies.

The other aspect was daily engagement: the rituals of the patients. There’s a kind of layering of activity that took months to figure out how to do, such as allowing for patients who are learning to get back on their feet to do physical therapy using the garden. In the Miami garden, there’s a slight incline that allows people to have a little bit of a challenge as they do circuits and at the same time allows patients in wheelchairs to enjoy the same setting.

I remember one parent in Chicago said to me, “I have a young son, and my daughter is in the hospital. I just want to be able to sit in the garden on a bench and look up at the sky at night and breast-feed my child.”

Full Story: Summoning Nature for Healing

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