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News Room: Press Releases

Virtua Memorial unveils healing garden

Article from the Burlington County Times (8/19/09) The air was crisp with the aroma of fresh flowers. Water spouted in a fountain before trickling into a pond. And nearly every inch of the circular stone pathways was filled with a celebratory crowd. On Thursday, the Healing Garden opened at Virtua Memorial with a ribbon-cutting event. Located in the Madison Avenue facility's center courtyard, the garden is intended to give staff, volunteers, patients and visitors a place to unwind. "We're trying to create an environment of healing," said Dr. Stephen Kolesk, chief operating officer for Virtua Memorial. "Quiet and solitude is part of healing." The garden was designed to stimulate all the senses. Its features include falling water, textured leaves that rustle, garden lighting and edible plants. Flowers, shrubs, trees and other foliage provide fragrance and color, while sculptural benches and sets of bistro tables and chairs allow visitors to relax and eat lunch. Other elements include a bamboo garden a kinetic mobile and a walking path where those practicing "relexology" can touch different textures. "It's going to be a sanctuary for people to heal and get away from the complexities of health care," said David Yhlen, vice president of operations for Virtua Memorial. The garden's walkways are in a spiral pattern with three interconnecting sections. According to the hospital's spokespeople, the spirals represent three generations of patients served by the hospital. The pattern also is one that is commonly found in nature. The idea took about three years to become a reality. According to Kolesk, more than $260,000 was raised, thanks to the efforts of the hospital's Auxiliary Board. Fundraising hasn't ended, however. Bricks, which can be personalized, are still being sold for $125. Yhlen said Samaritan Hospice of Evesham donated the spiral water fountain. The Auxiliary Board supplied the pond, and Virtua staff donated the main entrance vestibule and garden signage. Donations also were made by the board and its members, the philanthropic Virtua Foundation, hospital employees and doctors. Before it became the Healing Garden, the courtyard contained patio tables, an ash tree, and a hut used by people lighting up cigarettes, prior to a campuswide smoking ban. Kolesk acknowledged that the site's former purpose didn't serve the hospital's mission to promote healing and good health. However, with only the tree remaining from the garden's former look, Kolesk encouraged people to enjoy the space's new design for meditation, walking or eating lunch. "Come here," the Delran resident told the crowd gathered for the ceremony, which concluded with cake, punch and other refreshments. Earlier this month, Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro unveiled a meditation garden with a public ceremony. Also designed to help people relax and heal, the space was blessed Sept. 3. It was created by Eagle Scout candidate Eddie Fernandez of Mount Laurel and includes a tree honoring Holocaust survivor Elizabeth Blum Goldstein, also of Mount Laurel.
As one of New Jersey’s largest health systems, Virtua helps people be well, get well and stay well through a comprehensive range of health care services. Services are delivered through three health and wellness centers, three fitness centers, four acute care hospitals, primary and specialty physician practices with more than 240 physicians, urgent care centers, seven ambulatory surgery centers, home health services, two long-term care and rehabilitation centers, 12 paramedic units and a wide range of outpatient services. A leader in maternal and child health services, Virtua delivers more than 8,000 babies a year. Virtua also provides employment and wellness services to 1,700 businesses and corporations. An innovator in clinical and information technology such as electronic medical records, Virtua is recognized for its ground-breaking partnerships with GE Healthcare, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Fox Chase Cancer Center. Virtua employs more than 8,400 people and has been honored as the #1 Best Place to Work in the Delaware Valley every year since 2007. It is the recipient of the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation. For more information, visit  www.virtua.org or www.virtuabroadcastnetwork.org.