The seed has been planted to grow a rooftop meditation garden at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Now, LMH leaders hope that idea blooms into something special for patients and their families, as well as staff.
The vision is to turn the 55,000-square-foot gray patio area on the third-floor rooftop, where LMH and the Lawrence Health Plaza intersect, into an eye-popping green space filled with plants and water features.
“It’s not used as much as we would like to see, and we think with the enhancements of plants, water and smells that we will get a lot more folks involved in the outdoors,” said Kathy Clausing-Willis, LMH vice president and chief development officer.
The Lawrence Memorial Hospital Endowment Association board has approved $6,000 to fund the first phase of the project. By spring, Bartlett and West Engineers Inc. should have cost estimates and information on whether the rooftop can handle the weight and be handicap-accessible.
Clausing-Willis has contacted area garden clubs and Kansas University greek organizations about their interest in the project — particularly in maintaining the plants.
“It gives people something positive to be involved with and not cost a lot of money,” she said. “It will make a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives. If you are dying and you can get outside or if you are chronically ill and can get outside and have the sun on your face, that can mean a lot.”
Chuck Heath, LMH board member, hopes the community rallies around the idea.
“That’s just a space up there that’s begging for something nice to be done with,” he said. “I just hope that it comes together and can be financed.”
If the project receives a green light, LMH Endowment will launch a capital campaign.
It would come on the heels of a five-year campaign that began in 2002 and raised $8.2 million to help fund a $44 million expansion at the hospital. The project included the expansion of the emergency department, maternity and surgical services, and renovation of the intensive care unit. It also included making all patient care rooms private. About 200 volunteers worked on the campaign, which drew about 2,000 donors.
Although the campaign for the garden would be much smaller, there are concerns about the economy’s effect on fundraising. So LMH will consider that when deciding whether to move forward on the project.