By Julia Minton,
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.” Lady Bird Johnson
Approaching Garberville’s hospital campus nestled in the residential backstreets there is a sense of community neighborliness. Visitors to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital or the Southern Humboldt Community Clinic can now enjoy the recently renovated, elegantly landscaped inner courtyard that has become a delight for live-in residents, staff, visitors, and patients alike.
Chimes trill gently from one corner of the courtyard as the breeze brushes through the leaves, and blossoms wave to the sun. A variety of shrubs surround a pathway that circles a majestic redwood which can be seen towering over the hospital from the surrounding neighborhood. Other local forest species were deliberately placed at the foot of this mighty tree, enhancing the ambiance of the community’s healthcare facility.
Many people participated in the renovation project led by SHCHD’s Chief Operating Officer Kent Scown. Denise Dills, an accounting assistant at SHCHD, helps maintain the landscaped grounds one day per week in addition to her regular desk job. She helped replant the courtyard under the direction of landscape designer Cheryl Lisin. Diana Forsythe and her son Ian installed a drip irrigation system to minimize water use and more easily maintain a diverse array of plant species. The majority of planting occurred in Fall 2017, and now, Dills said, “You can feel the energy of love in here….When I’m walking around, it feels so yummy.”
When I asked Dills what the Courtyard was like before the renovation, she described an area with an uneven flagstone path, very little space for skilled nursing residents to safely walk around, and few places to sit and rest. Manuel Santaella, who lives in the Skilled Nursing Facility at the hospital, agreed and said “Before, it was a green area we couldn’t use. And now, it is an open area for us to use!” Santaella believes the courtyard is very important for his health, insisting “We need to walk in safety. If you don’t, you die!”
Yerba buena sprawls towards the concrete paths, alumroot flowers delicately dance in the breeze and the grass lawn outside the clinic is very lush
A new walkways leads from the entrance of the skilled nursing unit around the giant redwood, Japanese maples, crepe myrtles, and an adolescent big leaf maple donated by Susan Thompson. Lisin intentionally placed Thompson’s tree to the southeast to create more summer shade over time. The landscaping design adds many local species to the hospital garden, and Lisin even contributed a few species from her own yard. Yerba buena sprawls towards the concrete paths, alumroot flowers delicately dance in the breeze and the grass lawn outside the clinic is very lush. What was, according to Lisin, “a big weed patch with a pathway through it,” is now lush beds of sword ferns and soft hazel leaves, spiky Oregon grape root and bushy huckleberries, and variegated osmanthus surrounding a few preexisting rhododendron. Lavender, osmanthus, yerba buena, and flowering currants were chosen in part for their deliciously scented flowers, making the courtyard experience a delight to the senses.
Close to one of the benches recently installed along the concrete pathway, tall stems of gaura blossoms reach to the sky and coral bells dangle beautiful flowers. Sitting in the courtyard, it is easy to feel safe and calm, surrounded by harmonious plants and the Healthcare District’s services. Sitting at the new benches can also serve as a needed break in what could be a long walk for patients recovering from injuries. As soon as the new pathway and benches were opened to use, another staff member said she witnessed “Skilled Nursing patients coming out of their cocoons.” Kent Scown saw some SNF residents “competitively racing in walkers” with the newly-created walkways as their track.
SoHum Health Foundation will host a courtyard ribbon-cutting ceremony formally honoring its partnership in this renovation on August 15th at 5:30pm
Like many public hospitals, SHCHD has had a non-profit foundation for many decades that serves as a fundraising and outreach partner to the District. While this foundation had been dormant for years, it is having its own renaissance as expressed by its new name: SoHum Health Foundation. One of the reinvigorated Foundation’s first orders of business was a contribution of $10,000 to the renovation of the courtyard. This month, SoHum Health Foundation will host a courtyard ribbon-cutting ceremony formally honoring its partnership in this renovation on August 15th at 5:30pm. Join us in celebrating this newly renovated community asset and meet the renovation crew, SNF residents and District employees who use the courtyard, and the volunteer members of our SoHum Health Foundation. There will be light refreshments.
For questions about the SoHum Health Foundation or the upcoming courtyard ribbon-cutting, email Outreach Manager/Foundation Director Julia Minton at email@example.com, or call them at (707) 223-6630.
Column written by Tanya Horlick & Julia Minton
Julia Minton, Outreach Manager & Foundation Director