Exceptional Patient Experience

In this Section

CSM promotes healing through access to nature 


The CSM Healing Gardens aim to have a positive effect on patients' overall well-being.

The CSM Healing Gardens aim to
have a positive effect on patients'
overall well-being.

The Healing Gardens at Columbia St. Mary's Milwaukee will do just that - helping to speed the heal process as well as offer a respite area for patients and their loved ones to relax and connect with one another and nature.

Far more than just “landscaping,” a carefully planned healing garden engages the visitor’s senses with thoughtfully chosen plant materials, winding pathways to encourage physical movement, and serene stopping points for reflection and relaxation. 
Healing gardens are created to provide benefits to a diverse population with different needs, thus providing a place of refuge for patients, families and staff. Access to nature is proven to reduce stress, promote faster healing, reduce the need for medications and actually decrease the length of one's hospital stay.

"Working daily with cancer patients, I often think, life's too short NOT to stop and smell the roses," said Julie Punzel, RN and head and neck cancer nurse navigator at Columbia St. Mary's Cancer Center. "Both our patients and survivors will benefit from a place where they can experience something beautiful that can help heal the body and the soul."

The effects of illness and disease impact more than just the physical elements of a patient’s health. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine reported that at least half of the 550,000 people who die from cancer each year suffer from a spectrum of symptoms, including psychological stress that seriously diminish the quality of their survivorship. According to the National Cancer Institute, scientists know that psychological stress can affect the immune system, the body’s defense against infection and disease including cancer.

Because cancer affects a patient’s quality of life, physical well-being, psychological well-being and social well-being, CSM realizes the importance of healing mind, body and spirit. Studies over the past 20 years have shown that healing gardens greatly reduce the physical stress that accompanies a hospital visit, thereby speeding healing and improving outcomes.

"Inside the cancer center is such a comfortable, calm place to receive treatment because of the staff, especially my nurse navigator.  The addition of the healing garden will make the environment outside match that level of comfort for all of the patients undergoing cancer treatment,” said a current patient at Columbia St. Mary’s Cancer Center.

Water plays a key role in the design of the Healing Gardens.

Water plays a key role in the design
of the Healing Gardens

A stay or wait at a hospital or clinic can be stressful for the caregivers of patients as well. Families and friends of patients will also find the garden a haven to renew their hope and spirit while waiting for their loved ones.

Columbia St. Mary’s Healing Gardens will integrate environmental elements such as natural light and a view of nature to enhance positive patient outcomes. Natural light increases the production of serotonin, a chemical our body releases that is known to cause a feeling of well being or happiness. Viewing and experiencing nature has been associated with lowering stress hormones and blood pressure. A lack of nature can result in higher levels of depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that elements of nature such as water, plants and trees, soothe and distract patients from their illnesses and ailments.

The Healing Garden will feature:

  • Upper, intermediate reflection and lower terraces that provide stopping points for rest and relaxation.
  • A Koi Pond and waterfall.
  • A natural aquatic wetland feature that filters water through the use of watergarden plants, gravel and beneficial bacteria.
  • Safe, wheelchair-accessible walkways with non-skid surfaces.
  • Carefully chosen flora to be responsive to patients' senses.


Plans are in place to create CMS' Healing Gardens this summer.

Plans are in place to create CSM's
Healing Gardens this summer.

Excitement is building, plans are underway and creation will begin this summer!

We still need donations to make the Healing Garden a reality. You can support our mission to provide care with equal attention to the physical, spiritual and emotional dimensions of health - to treat body, mind and spirit.

Healing Garden donors will receive an exclusive invitation to participate in the First Planting Ceremony.

Click here for more information about, and opportunities to support, the Healing Gardens.


Columbia St. Mary's

Site Map | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Non-Discrimination Statement
Copyright © 2016 Columbia St. Mary's | Milwaukee, WI
Connect Healthcare CMS Solutions