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Aurora St. Luke's Dedicates Rooftop Healing Garden and Conservatory

MILWAUKEE, Wis., June 1 /PRNewswire/ -- A panoramic downtown Milwaukee view, lush greenery and a calming fountain greet visitors to the rooftop healing garden at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center. These are among the sights and sounds awaiting guests at the newly opened Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds Healing Garden and the Agnes and Morland Hamilton Healing Conservatory.



"We want our patients and their families to have a tranquil, calm oasis they can come to when they are at the hospital," says Mary O'Brien, chief administrative officer for Aurora St. Luke's. "They come to us for medical care to heal their bodies. This garden gives them a place to find spiritual healing as well."

The 14,000-square-foot healing garden, on an eighth floor rooftop, includes a 4,000-square-foot glass conservatory for year-round access to the garden's trees, shrubs, flowers and water features. The sweeping view includes Miller Park, downtown Milwaukee and Lake Michigan.

"The results are fantastic," says Don Tendick Jr., the design committee chair and a major healing garden donor. "My favorite part will be seeing people enjoy it."

The project was designed with ideas from patients and caregivers. Pathways are from 5 to 8 feet wide to accommodate hospital beds and wheelchairs. To encourage reflection there is a paved labyrinth and several works of art. Water features include an interactive fountain pool and an 8-by-11 foot water wall.

The garden contains more than 1,900 plants and has several environmentally friendly features, such as a green roof on the conservatory. Also, regional building materials, like Minnesota limestone, were used in the construction. The garden is going through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification process and has earned enough points at this juncture for basic certification.

Physicians, such as Dr. Bernard Staller, a cardiologist at St. Luke's for 36 years and a garden donor, support the new space.

"The concept was appealing to me from the outset," Dr. Staller says. "This will be very uplifting for patients and families. Good care is not just about healing the body, but healing the emotions and spirit."

A quiet refuge within a bustling hospital environment will be particularly meaningful for those with lengthy hospital stays. Julie Campbell is one patient in particular who is looking forward to venturing into the garden.

Campbell has been tethered to total artificial heart (TAH-t) at Aurora St. Luke's for more than a year. She gets outside when the weather permits, but her options are limited because of the logistics of moving the TAH-t. The garden will give her a safe haven, she says.

"I've been watching them building it from my window," Campbell says. "I can't wait to get in to see it."

The Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds provided $1.5 million toward the $4.9 million project, and the Agnes and Moreland Hamilton estate donated $1.7 million. Aurora St. Luke's is part of Aurora Health Care, a not-for-profit health care provider.

Christian Barry, president of the Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds, says the garden reflects the funds' mission to support compassionate care.

"While Vince Lombardi himself was receiving treatment for cancer, he had a window that looked out onto a football field," Barry says. "Being able to see the world, unconfined by four walls, brought light to some of his darkest days. We hope that this innovative garden brings comfort and hope to many people."

Aurora offers services in more than 90 communities in eastern Wisconsin.

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SOURCE Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center
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