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CMC-Mercy’s new garden designed to help healing

The new healing garden at CMC-Mercy opened in May.
The new healing garden at CMC-Mercy opened in May. CAROLINAS HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

A former concrete jungle at Carolinas Medical Center-Mercy has been transformed into a 4,000-square-foot garden where patients, loved ones and hospital staff can relax and heal.

The Dr. Sanford and Lois Benjamin Healing Garden, which opened in May, is part of CMC’s ongoing plan to add alternative healing approaches such as massage, music therapy and pet visitation to its programs.

“This is the latest piece of that integrative medicine that we put in place,” said Scott Jones, vice president-facility executive at CMC-Mercy.

The garden is outside CMC-Mercy’s emergency department in an area that once was used for the hospital’s mobile service.

“It just mainly was unused space, all concrete and kind of ugly,” Jones said.

Designers have turned the space into a tranquil, green area with a courtyard, sitting areas, brick walkways and plenty of landscaping. A donor wall recognizes the people who supported the project, and flowers, shrubs and trees were chosen to appeal to people’s senses and provide a serene atmosphere.

“It’s really transformed,” Jones said.

The project cost about $350,000, and it was funded by donations. Dr. Sanford Benjamin, who the garden is named after, was a pathologist at CMC-Mercy for many years.

Jones said Benjamin was known for his technical expertise and his interpersonal skills.

“He was very caring and a great leader for doctors in that group,” Jones said. “The staff have a fondness in their voices when they talk about Dr. Benjamin and what he’s done.”

The garden is meant to be a healing space where staff and caregivers can take a break and where patients and family members can come to get out of the hospital atmosphere and heal. Patients who are waiting for test results or recovering from surgery may find the garden to be a peaceful environment during stressful times.

CMC recently is focusing on providing care for caregivers and helping staff overcome compassion fatigue.

“Caring for people can be stressful with long hours,” Jones said. “We’re looking at how we can reinvigorate our staff. The healing garden is part of that.”

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at