The notion of something being a “breath of fresh air” will take on greater meaning for patients of the Einstein Medical Center Montgomery and their families come this September: That is when an ambitious, 21,500 square-foot healing garden funded by philanthropists Jane and Leonard Korman will open on the grounds.
“There is a lot written in our hospital literature about the importance of access to nature, especially sunlight, and how it functions within the healing process, as well as provides relief from stress and anxiety,” says Beth Duffy, chief operating officer of Einstein Medical Center Montgomery.
“A garden is not just supposed to be a place to sit and reflect,” she says of the planned site.
“There are walkways, as walking is a stress reducer,” while a waterfall feature of the new garden is intended to have a “calming therapeutic effect.”
Also scheduled for landscaping, says the COO, is “a large, nice selection of trees and plantings” to “provide color and texture all year round for an essential sensory experience.”
The late Stuart Appel of Wells Appel, a firm specializing in outdoor planning, landscape architecture and urban design, was behind the design of the garden.
Richard Montalbano, senior project manager for the healing garden, explains that although the medical center was opened in September 2012, the idea for the garden, first proposed in 2011, needed to be further developed.
“The Korman family, whose family business is residential and commercial real estate, has been involved with the Einstein Healthcare Network for three generations,” Montalbano says. “During the course of the planning and building process, their aim” as philanthropists and board members “was to create something that could be a medical destination and not just a hospital.”
While Leonard Korman was involved in the architectural aspects of the garden, Jane Korman, who is also on the board at the Morris Arboretum (in Montgomery County, not far from the hospital), provided insight into what could be accomplished with the right use of such notions as plantings and shading arrangements.
The couple, their daughter, Alison Korman-Feldman, and Duffy and Montalbano stress that the final product is a shared vision involving many other people.
Duffy says the Kormans were very hands on, from selecting the concrete to the granite for the plaque that will bear the names of their respective parents (Max and Matilda Korman, and David Friedman and Rosalie Friedman Wachs), to whom the garden is dedicated.
The plaque will also bear a quote from the center’s namesake, Albert Einstein: “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”