Shawn Bean discovers “healing spaces” at some of the country’s newest children’s hospitals:

“Hospital in a garden” is how chief medical officer Dr. Lane Donnelly describes Nemours, which opened October 22, 2012. It’s a concept underscored by the many nature-centric touches.

The floor-to-above-ceiling windows flood the rooms and public spaces with natural light, not dull fluorescence. The two rooftop terraces feature obstacle courses and walking paths. The one-acre discovery garden is built around the senses: Fragrant flowers bloom in the section dedicated to smell; a few steps away, the ears are engaged by xylophone benches and percussive art.

It’s all part of a budding trend in medical care, one that believes nature can speed up the healing process, particularly with children, where the stress of hospital stays can be much greater.

During the past few years, there has been a lot of attention to the effect hospital environments have on healing.  Noise, lighting, work-flow of hospital staff, and other factors affect a hospital’s ambience, often in an annoying and detrimental (to healing) way.  Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh did extensive research on these variables before building a magnificent new hospital. The attention to detail is astounding at the new CHP, with the comfort and convenience of the patient and family being the primary intention.  Other new children’s hospitals — Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Florida and the Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago — have followed Pittsburgh’s lead:

Nemours isn’t the only new children’s hospital prescribing sunshine and serenity. The Ann and Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago recently launched a study to understand the effect healing spaces have on kids. The study’s laboratory is the hospital’s own Crown Sky Garden, a 5,000-square-foot respite 11 floors above Chicago Avenue. It’s a soaring greenhouse flanked by skyscrapers, and outfitted with bamboo trees, carved wooden benches and an interactive light wall.

Read Shawn Bean’s article and view slideshow of Nemours Children’s Hospital, from and here.