New hospital garden provides healing and hope

A new garden will be completed this spring at Mount Sinai Hospital in southwestern Chicago.  

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Harry and Susan Seigle don construction gear at the site of Susan's Garden.

Finding a place to process complicated medical news or take a break from visiting a loved one in the hospital can be difficult. But thanks to Sinai Health System, a new garden will be completed this spring to create such a space at Mount Sinai Hospital in southwestern Chicago.

Susan's Garden, named by donor Harry J. Seigle to honor his wife of 45 years, will be designed to "tap nature's restorative power for the benefit of our patients, families, and caregivers," said Karen Teitelbaum, president of Sinai Health System, which celebrates its centennial this year and is a partner of the Jewish United Fund.

The garden, which will sit in front of the hospital's entrance, will feature curved paths for walking, benches to sit and relax, and fountains, sculptures, and a variety of indigenous trees and plants to admire. It  will serve as a calming environment for entering and exiting the hospital and also will provide areas to seek companionship and other areas for quiet reflection. It will be  designed as a welcoming place for the over 175,000 people who enter Mount Sinai Hospital's front doors each year.

"City hospitals can be cold, even threatening places-the Garden will welcome all to Sinai," Seigle said. "It provides a campus-like setting for the inpatient and outpatient entries as well as a place of reflection and respite for patients, families, and staff."

As the newest addition to the Sinai Health System, the garden will follow a proud tradition of a century of healthcare at Mount Sinai Hospital. The hospital, which originally began as a place for Jewish doctors to work and the Jewish community to find healing, has expanded into two comprehensive medical campuses with four hospitals and 14 clinics.

Seigle became involved with Mount Sinai Hospital years ago, when he visited and felt an "obvious and personally compelling" need to help with the creation of what is now called the Seigle Outpatient Center. Now, he is proud to help the community in another way and dedicate the nearly one-acre garden to his wife.

"Susan is a modest woman; recognition is not her thing," Seigle said. "However, she values being associated with Sinai's mission and sees the garden as 'healing' to the community."

This healing began with a meeting of patients, caregivers, individuals from the disability community, and garden enthusiasts to brainstorm ideas, and will conclude in the upcoming months with the planting of some spring trees and the construction of boulders honoring donors.

In Susan's Garden, patients and hospital employees will reap the benefits of stress reduction, lessened fear and anger, increased social support, and more. Research shows that these benefits can be helpful for patient outcomes.

"Susan's Garden will signal loudly and beautifully to the underserved communities on Chicago's west and southwest sides that Sinai Health System, and the broader philanthropic community, are committed to their health and wellbeing," Teitelbaum said.

Sinai Health System is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.


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