SIERRA VISTA − Medical staff at Canyon Vista Medical Center (CVMC) opened their healing garden on May 14 to bring tranquility to patients, families and visitors.

“We wanted to do something to express our gratitude to our staff, our patients and our families, and the healing garden seemed to be the perfect solution,” said Dr. Jody Jenkins, a General Surgery physician at Canyon Vista Medical Center.

The garden is located between Medical Office Building One and the main hospital building, and has three different sections: a ramada, kitchen garden and a secret garden.

“Jan Groth, the master gardener, picked out every plant,” said Jenkins. “Now we have an area that hopefully patients and staff can go to relax.”

Jenkins said that the area has already gotten a warm welcome by hospital staff, patients, and visitors.

“We were really pleased to see the garden used for what it was intended to be used for,” said Jenkins.

CVMC’s Chief Nursing Officer Karen Reed said that the healing garden, “Is a mind, body, spirit tool or activity to really restore harmony in your being, give you a sense of calm, help you feel better, help you feel more connected.”

Reed continued, “This has been Dr. Jenkins’ vision, and energy, and spunk and spirit that kept it moving, and got it to where it is today.”

Jenkins first proposed the idea of a healing garden earlier this year as a way to give back to the staff, patients, and families by providing them a place to relax.

“In February, we started putting the plants in,” said Jenkins. So, it’s only been a couple of months since we’re doing this work.”

Jenkins said the garden will not only serve as home to a wide variety of desert-adapted plants, including oaks, catalpa, palo verde and mesquite trees, but it will also house herbs and vegetables that can be used in the hospital cafeteria for meals.

“So we put in some raised beads with cherry tomatoes, a variety of beets and radishes, oregano and thyme,” said Jenkins. “I asked the chef what sort of things that they would be able to use in the cafeteria, and those are the things they asked for. We have pomegranate trees and fig trees that the hospitalists requested.”

Jenkins said that the inspiration for the garden surrounds the idea of “getting back to nature.”

Jenkins said that discussions about adding a healing garden began with Margaret Hepburn, former CEO of the previous Sierra Vista hospital that was located off of the corner of Wilcox Drive and El Camino Real.

“This is a topic that has come up many times in the past,” said Jenkins. “But we never had an opportunity to do this.”

Jenkins continued,“We were discussing how we could use the medical staff funds as a ‘thank you’ for getting through the pandemic. Fortunately, this staff agreed to put the money into it. We were very lucky that people put in a lot of work into it.”

Funding for the healing garden came from physician application fees and dues. “We used the funds from our dues and application fees to create this garden,” said Jenkins. “Those funds would be used for continuing education and medical staff leaders ... Somehow with the pandemic, medical staff leadership wasn’t collecting their fees and we felt that ‘we have this, we should put this to use.’”

Jenkins said that the goal is to add more seating areas and foliage to the garden once a fundraiser is set up through the Cochise County Foundation.

“We would like to get more seating areas, we would like to get fountains,” said Jenkins. “We would like to maintain the kitchen garden. There’s been talk if we would like to put a fit-path around the hospital. (We’re) trying to encourage people to keep themselves healthy.”