Steph McGovern has officially opened a garden for critically ill patients at The James Cook University Hospital.
The garden, which has been made possible thanks to staff, Our Hospitals Charity and the local community, offers patients a private, tranquil space to spend precious time with their loved ones away from the clinical environment.
It features a range of beautiful plants, screens, seating, a gold sculpture and a window etching of Cleveland Hills.
It is hoped the new garden will also benefit patients’ rehabilitation as they become re-acquainted with the outside world and use their senses to stimulate the healing process.
While opening the garden, Steph McGovern said: “When I got asked to do this, I was like ‘definitely’ as I’m from Boro. My mam worked in this hospital for 40 years as a radiographer, so I used to come here all the time as a little girl when we came to pick her up.
“I’ve always felt like it’s been a really welcoming place.
“I know you guys employ a lot of people in the area, so you’re doing great stuff for the area too and obviously looking after the community.
“I’ve loved the chance to come back. This garden looks brilliant, so well done to the team for putting this all together.
“Thanks for being lovely and looking after everyone. Thank you for everything you’ve been doing and continue to do. My applause and love goes out to you, so thank you.”
Critical care consultant Diane Monkhouse said: “We are so grateful to everyone who has given their time, energy and donations to this project. None of this project would have been possible without the generosity of ex-patients, families, colleagues, past and present, and members of the public.
“Our JustGiving appeal raised over £13,000 due to the kindness of 278 supporters. Several local companies, including Hill’s Nurseries in Stokesley and Durham University Botanic Gardens, donated plants and trees. We would like to thank everyone who has supported us.”
The garden was designed by local artist Laura Johnston, who has a very personal connection to the hospital’s critical care garden.
“Having the opportunity to design the whole space was just lovely because of my connection to critical care and the fact I spent many a Christmas Day here visiting my brother, Ian, who was a long stay ICU patient,” she said.
“Before, this was just a barren courtyard with narrow pathways and lots of bamboo. It really wasn’t suitable to bring patients in their beds out.
“Now it’s a space that can be enjoyed all year round.”
When not used by patients, the garden can be accessed by critical care staff, offering them a restful place for them to take some time out.
Ben Murphy from Our Hospital Charity said: “We would like to thank all our supporters and the local community for once again donating to Our Hospitals Charity to allow us to improve our facilities for our patients, visitors and staff.”
The team is now hoping to establish a ‘Friends of the Critical Care Garden’ group to provide ongoing maintenance.