Save the Prouty Garden at BCH
What is happening?
There is a plan to raze the beautiful and historic Prouty Garden at Boston Children's Hospital.
The Prouty Garden is a true natural healing space -- with swaths of grass, bunnies, birds and changing seasons that allow children and families to feel connected to the real world, during a time when they are otherwise cut off from it. The healing impact of this is immense, and the Prouty has benefited countless patients, families and staff since its establishment in 1956. The Prouty Garden is a memorial garden, endowed by Olive Higgins Prouty , in honor of her two daughters Anne and Olivia, who died at a young age.
Boston Children’s Hospital leadership has announced plans for a multistory, $1.2 billion new building to include a state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit and more private rooms. The plan calls for the new building to be built on the site of the Prouty Garden — sacrificing the vital healing benefit it has held for generations of patients and their families.
What about the proposed green space in the master plan for the new building? Isn't that a good replacement?
The promised “more total square footage” of green space in the new construction plan is misleading. While the destructive plan boasts an increase in the overall square footage of green space by more than 10,000 sq. feet, they are in fact creating a series of smaller gardens that are only a fraction of the size of the Prouty. This is akin to proclaiming that a dozen rooftop gardens are equivalent to the Public Garden, simply because of comparable square footage. The Prouty Garden is 23,000 square feet, while the largest garden in the new space is nearly half that, at 13,500 square feet, and the others are even less. This would seriously limit the opportunity for the new green space to function in the way that the Prouty does, as many of its advantages are enhanced by its size. To do away with a significant area of greenery that has managed to survive in the congested Longwood area, is shameful.
Additionally, there is no comparison in terms of quality. In any case, any new building today would include green space as the industry standard. While the proposed green space will undoubtedly be beneficial and well-designed, the Prouty Garden, with its verdure and grassy lawn, its bits of wildlife and towering leafy trees, is of an entirely different ilk from the manufactured green space we see in hospitals today.
But we do not want to stand in the way of a new, necessary clinical building, right?
No, we do not. We fully support the need for a new clinical building. Boston Children’s Hospital is a world-class leader in childhood healthcare, & must continuously grow and change to remain so. We are urging the hospital to listen to the patients, clinicians, environmentalists and community members who have spoken up, and to commit to using their vast resources to explore other options that were initially deemed less economical. We are aware that from the beginning there were a multitude of other plans, and that in the end, the Prouty Garden was chosen for its convenience and economy.
The Hospital has the resources to enact and execute creative solutions to this problem should they so choose, and we are urging them to do so.
If they build as planned now, what happens when the hospital needs to expand again?
Exactly. Over the next 10 - 20 years, it will be hard, but not impossible, to find Longwood real estate to site new buildings on, and rest assured they will find a way to expand. But the Prouty Garden, one of the few remaining open spaces in the Longwood area, will be lost forever.
What happens during construction?
Of equal importance is the fact that if the Prouty Garden is lost, construction, which is estimated to take 4 years, will immediately leave the hospital and its patients without its most important healing space for an extended period of time. That is unacceptable.
Why is the Prouty special?
The Prouty is considered a premiere example of therapeutic healing gardens in the U.S. Healing gardens should be large and private enough to seem like “another world,” and should feature mature shade trees, such as the 65-foot tall Dawn Redwood , amongst others. They should offer inviting walkways free of impediments to IV poles & wheelchairs. They should have private alcoves for solitude, meditation, and bereavement. As we understand it, the largest green space in the new master plan will be near the front of the hospital, threatening the kind of privacy that the Prouty currently enjoys.
The Prouty has delighted and brought comfort to patients, families, & staff for almost 60 years. It was designed by the Olmsted Brothers’ firm, and awarded a Gold medal from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for its remarkable beauty and function as a healing space. The garden continues to provide significant, unique healing benefits which we believe cannot be equaled by the proposed green space in the new construction.
We deeply thank everyone for their support; we are all working towards a common goal.
"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
From the BBJ:
"According to Gregor McGregor, an attorney for the plaintiff who has also been a spokesperson for the group opposing Boston Children’s Hospital expansion, the group is seeking several documents related to the state’s communications around the Boston Children’s Hospital state approval — also called a Determination of Need, and communications relating to the state’s desire to have Boston Children’s Hospital join a pilot program for MassHealth to care for patients on a budget.
"The suit references meetings Gov. Charlie Baker had with Children’s CEO Sandra Fenwick, and also discussions he had with Sudders about that meeting.
"McGregor said he’s still hopeful that the garden could be restored, or at the very least that the decision to approve the project would be rescinded.
“(My clients) want the integrity of (state’s approval process) upheld,” McGregor said. “They want the agency to review under its jurisdiction the project with no exceptions, and… this is designed to daylight how this went down. We’ll see what the facts lead to.”
We are still fighting for what's right. Are you with us?
Hospital is “selling its soul” by destroying nationally-renowned outdoor healing space
BOSTON – December 5, 2016 – The Friends of the Prouty Garden today condemned actions by the administration of Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH), which on Saturday, December 3, cut down a 60-year-old Dawn Redwood tree in the hospital’s Prouty Garden, beginning in earnest the destruction of the nationally-recognized healing garden to make way for the most expensive hospital expansion project in Massachusetts history.
In issuing a statement today, Gus Murby, spokesman for the Friends and lead plaintiff in two Ten Taxpayer Group lawsuits challenging the hospital project, noted that the group will continue to pursue the hospital in court, contending that, among other issues, the state process that allowed the BCH project to move forward was deeply flawed. The lawsuits are pending in Suffolk Superior Court, with additional filings expected as soon as this week.
Statement of The Friends of the Prouty Garden:
“With the felling of the Dawn Redwood and the sacrifice of the Prouty Garden, Boston Children’s Hospital has completed the process of selling its soul.
Amid the confusion sewn by the hospital administration’s multiple misrepresentations throughout this process, the complex medical issues that are the constrained focus of the state’s review of the hospital’s proposed project, and the interference of state and city leaders who inserted themselves into the process to steer its outcome, the core truth and breach of integrity that has occurred is crystalized on a simple plaque that has stood in the garden for decades. The plaque unequivocally states that “this Garden will exist as long as Children’s Hospital has patients, families and staff to enjoy it.”
In eradicating the Prouty Garden, the hospital has broken its promise to past, present and future patients, families and staff. In doing this, the hospital administration has also betrayed the core values of the medical profession – values that make this profession a sacred one. These core values recognize that healing involves more than providing patients with medical treatments, however advanced those treatments may be. Healing is not something that comes from bigger buildings and newer medical equipment. Healing, particularly for those facing the most difficult afflictions, comes from the compassion and care offered by hospital staff who time and again display the unfathomable emotional courage to open themselves up to their patients in a manner that goes far beyond the clinical limits of their areas of expertise. Healing is found in the ability of patients, their families, and the hospital staff itself to connect with core truths about existence that transcend even the darkest fears and uncertainties they face.
For the past 60 years Boston Children’s Hospital has embraced that commitment and courage as a foundational element of its identity. The Prouty Garden and, in particular, the Dawn Redwood has stood as physical testimony to the hospital’s commitment to those core values, and to those who come to Boston Children’s Hospital with the greatest need for healing that goes beyond the clinical delivery of medical care.
What has been lost here is far more than a garden.”
There is a guard posted at the entrance and the view into the garden is obscured with a rendition of what is to come. The door near the library is closed off and is now part of the construction zone. The tree is still standing but there is plywood staging on the main part of the garden and the nurse statue has been removed. There are white lines painted on the grass that can be viewed from the aerial shot.
WE KNOW HOW DISHEARTENING AND DISTURBING THIS IS TO SEE AND TO READ, LET ALONE FOR THE STAFF, PATIENTS AND FAMILIES IN THE HOSPITAL RIGHT NOW WHO ARE SUDDENLY WITHOUT THIS IMPORTANT HEALING SPACE.
To update you on where our fight stands now, as you may recall, a hearing was held in Superior Court on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to rule on our Ten Taxpayer Group’s urgent request that a Preliminary Injunction be issued to prevent BCH from proceeding with construction on the site of the Prouty Garden while our group’s full complaint is under review by the court.
To our disappointment, Judge Salinger, the presiding judge, declined to grant our request because he was not satisfied that we had established a likelihood of success on the merits “at this time.” It’s important to note that the judge reached this decision without reviewing the complete Administrative Record that will be assembled before he makes his ultimate ruling on our complaint. Judge Salinger made clear several times that he was referring to the state of the evidence presented to him “at present.” He was not ruling out that he may be convinced otherwise as further evidence is presented to him.
The practical impact of the judge’s ruling, however, is that the Prouty Garden, at this point in time, is unprotected from whatever the hospital chooses to do with it. This freedom to act is limited only by whatever moral, ethical, medical, financial, and sensible business principles the hospital administration might take into account in considering its actions, in light of the “court of public opinion." We have seen nothing so far to suggest the hospital administration is particularly concerned about present and future patients and their families; benefactors who have chosen to support the hospital because of the Garden; competing hospitals which incorporate nature in their healing; hospital rating agencies and organizations; or insurers, governments, businesses and other payers who care about what they’re paying for hospital services.
To make matters worse, early indications suggest the hospital administration intends to proceed with destroying this well-loved healing garden during the holiday season. The pictures accompanying this update show the immediate actions just since the hearing that the hospital has taken to close the garden and establish this sacred space as a “construction staging site.” It would appear that “holiday spirit” will be in extremely short supply at Boston Children’s Hospital this holiday season. At this point, the full moral burden of action with respect to the Prouty Garden is resting on the shoulders of the BCH administration.
Our attorneys have pointed out to us that the judge's ruling on the request for a preliminary injunction will not necessarily impact the judge’s full consideration of our complaint. The ruling on our initial requested relief is decided, but our lawsuit continues and likely will be consolidated with our previous suit (filed to stop the initial construction work).
Our effort has always been a story of “David fighting Goliath." We stand with numerous experts, both inside and outside the hospital who have condemned the hospital’s planned course of action. We remain optimistic that we can prevail in this effort “on the merits."
With the Prouty Garden under imminent threat right now, we are doing all we can to expedite the cases in court. Beyond the legal dimensions of this fight, however, we continue to look for ways to keep public pressure on the hospital to change course. During this holiday season, when the sacred significance of the Prouty Garden is palpable, we ask for your continued financial support, political actions, recruitment efforts, and personal involvement in this effort. The heartfelt comments that many of you have posted over the past two years inspire us all and give us strength.
During this season of giving, we suggest that a very good cause indeed is the saving of the Prouty Garden. We hope you will find it in your hearts (and wallets) to contribute now to the funds we are trying to raise to support immediate action during the month of December as we attempt to give the hospital reason to slow or abandon its current course of action while court action is still pending.
With our best wishes during this holiday season and deepest gratitude for the support you have provided throughout this effort – we ask only that you keep the faith!
These events will be held in the Prouty Garden: WEDNESDAY, Nov. 16th, 6:30-10:30 am and THURSDAY, Nov. 17th, 3-7 pm. Please read on for more details and know that our fight goes on, even if the garden closes.
A PROMISE BROKEN & AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
Friends, you know the immense and irreplaceable healing power of this historic garden. It is a place where some have found a new lease on life; it is also a place where some have bid farewell to life. It was donated by a grieving mother 60 years ago under assurances that it would remain "as long as there are patients, families and staff to enjoy it."
The Boston Children's Hospital of today has lost sight of that promise and that vision.
They say their new building, which is certainly the most expensive hospital expansion in state history at well over $1 billion, will expand their capacity to heal, but they are banking on overseas patients who, especially given today's incredible uncertain geopolitical climate, are not guaranteed to come. Add to that, hospitals nationwide fretting over the financial impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act under the new presidential administration, and you have uncertainty for hospital finances currently, even without a huge addition.
As taxpayers, this makes us nervous. As patients, families and staff, it breaks our hearts.
PLEASE JOIN US
The flyer, which can be viewed on our web update, was distributed by the hospital, inviting staff and families to attend the two-day event, which again, we believe will be a farewell event ahead of a closure of the Prouty Garden in the very near future, despite our appeal and the pending ten-taxpayer lawsuit.
We will be on site at these events and we encourage all Prouty Garden supporters to come as well. If the hospital's will prevails, this may be your last time to stand beneath the branches of the Dawn Redwood, to lay on the lawn, to observe bunnies and squirrels and find a moment's peace in the Prouty Garden.
We will be wearing our Save Prouty pins proudly. We do not know if we will be allowed in; if we are not allowed in, we will congregate in front of the hospital. As patients and families will be present, it is not our intention to cause a disturbance, but we felt we would be doing our supporters a disservice by not alerting them to these events.
Please reach out to us if you have any questions. We hope to see you there.
After reading in today's Boston Globe that Governor Charlie Baker had endorsed the BCH expansion as proposed, as well as Boston Mayor Marty Walsh had done not long ago, I called both their offices (again) and had fairly lengthy conversations with their aides about just what I've just read here--stressing that alternate areas (if BCH needed to expand) were available to BCH and the 1/2 acre sacred ground of Prouty Garden could be saved, and that as a rare, unique, deeply meaningful, consecrated, and irreplaceable healing garden it was a true medical facility in every sense of the word. As a Friend of Prouty Garden I am so happy to read this--may we all be heard!
I never held my son in the garden. I never held him outside of Boston's Children's Hospital again, either. I came to Boston when my son was nearly 7 months old. For the 5 months he was there, we waited on him to get well. He wasn't able to. However, during that time, I did spend a great deal of it in the garden with my tiny footed 2 year old. He hugged the statues in the garden, calling the nurse statue "Mommy" and the child holding her hand "Baby." We were able to find this place a solace for my child whom was well, and for ourselves. I watched as other mothers and fathers brought their ill children to the garden. It was as if the moment they walked into the doors of the garden, a blanket of peace covered their worn souls. They were able to experience the breath of fresh air that doesn't exist within the barren walls of hospitals. They felt something I can't describe with words, a peace and a hope for a future. Hope for more moments that only places like the prouty garden could provide for weary souls. Where the weight lifts off for just a moment... And the air is filled with mystery and wonder and something... ethereal. As I watched these scenes unfold, it left an image in my head of what joy we would have when we were able to experience our own moment in the prouty garden with our own child. It kept me going on the worst days in the hospital. The relief on the faces of the children who truly thrive in nature, as we all have seen in our own children as they search for bugs, jump in leaves, climb in the trees. The prouty is so much more than scenery. It is a beacon of hope in a difficult road. A beacon of rest, peace, calm. Things these families need more than any medicine that western medicine provides. Life exists in the garden, and it's far beyond our human capacity to describe it. It can only be felt. I've felt it. I hope that you hear our stories, that you preserve this place and reserve it for those of us who thrive in nature. Especially our children.
this becomes a Trumpian moment... without becoming a doomsayer it appears to be the bed=ginning of the end! Such brutal arrogance... and apparently just the beginning.
I suggest several things to do immediately: (1) Call Senators Warren and Markey, and get them involved in halting any further harm being done to the Garden until at least the full lawsuit is heard and the Superior Court judge renders an opinion. (2) Likewise, call your individual congressional reps all over the state and urge the same as the above. (3) PROTECT AND RESIST --like the amazing groups resisting the Dakota Pipeline at Standing Rock in ND, and protecting the Earth for all. The movement has gathered indigenous peoples from all over the US, standing in prayer and resistance and reaching out with compassion to all those who would destroy water, land, and sacred ground. Everyone's water, land, and sacred ground. And they're being joined by about 1,000 US military veterans who are forming a protective circle around the protectors. The movement was begun by a Lakota mother whose son's grave would be (or was) disturbed by the laying of the pipeline... and has now swelled to the attention and involvement of millions of people in the US and worldwide. Prouty Garden is a 1/2 acre of such sacred space. I URGE A SIMILAR ACTION OF EVERY ABLE-BODIED PERSON WHO CAN DO IT. It's what Dr. T. Berry Brazelton said in the NPR interview--chain yourselves around the tree. Stand in front of the bulldozers and chainsaws. Ask them to join you. Offer them prayers and flowers and peace. Sing. Block the efforts to destroy the Garden with your bodies. They will not harm you like what has happened to so many of the protectors at Standing Rock. This sacred consecrated healing space is irreplaceable. It cannot be replicated. You cannot copy a tree that's been cut down; you cannot copy the soul of a lost child, or a healed and joyful child and all those who need this sacred, special place of healing, comfort, and renewal.
I am a pediatric psychologist who was the consult liaison psychologist for the pediatric hematology/oncology, immunology, and heart and lung transplant programs at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. You can only imagine what it is like to be told by your local doctor and/or community hospital that you need to go for further evaluation at the children's hospital. You are whisked into a setting far from home/family and friends/the familiar/your routines, where you are bombarded with sights/sounds/smells that are unfamiliar, with concrete and asphalt, with unfamiliar faces and their varying roles, with lots of waiting time and difficult decisions that must be made without a safe space/a space clear of the contamination of illness/a place of peace and quiet/a place to reflect and recharge. Prouty offers that to families AND STAFF involved in and supporting children and families at these challenging times. Please know that I am not saying the children's hospital staff are cold/uncaring...in fact they are an amazing set of professionals--otherwise they would not be doing what they are doing. My request is to ask the board and planners to consider the sanctity of this precious sacred ground and BUIKD THE EXPANSION SOMEWHERE ELSE. A garden on top of a building is one with a concrete core and noise from the whole city. Terese Pawletko PhD
Keep going strong Prouty supporters!
Please note that the Brazelton clip won't work because there is a period at the end of the sentence. Can you repost with this address (no period)? http://www.saveprouty.org/blog/2016/6/20/dr-brazeltons-prouty-garden-radio-ad
I was at Boston Childrens Hospital yesterday with my daughter for a medical appointment. It had been a stressful drive into the city and we arrived feeling tense and frazzled. We decided to take a few minutes to sit on a bench next to the magnificent tree in the beautiful Prouty Garden. Immediately we felt miles away from the congestion, and traffic of Longwood Ave. . We could smell the fresh air, hear the birds sing and surround ourselves with the calming power of nature. When I looked at my daughter who has spent significant periods of her life in the hospital she had tears streaming down her cheeks. "I am so grateful" she said to be here in this beautiful garden. Please let us all work together to save this sacred place
I was once again reminded of the importance of saving Prouty Garden after reading today's WBUR article about the brave and beautiful Catherine Malatesta, who died last August in Boston at the age of 16 from a rare cancer. In her journal Catherine wrote: "I'm sure most people have forgotten how beautiful air tastes, but once you're in the hospital for days, a breath of fresh air is like a magical touch."
Why not buy one of the near by building and build a bridge? Judging by the lack of hospitality of patience offered, The Longwood Inn, seems totally put out by being near the hospital. Perhaps they would love to move elsewhere.
My daughter went through chemo for 6 months at Children's and she was at times so desperate to see the sky and look at trees, she was trapped inside for so long, that the Prouty garden became a true blessing. I have read the legal documents submitted by Children's Hospital to allow construction (destruction). Patients will lose indeed the piece of true nature, a corner of sky, the birds and squirrels, a majestic tree. To be replaced with fake, sanitized green spaces. Further more, alternative locations have not been adequately explored. Children's already has satellite buildings in the Boston area, where traffic is less congested. The Longwood area has become an insane place my daughter still needs to visit. Last but not least, I am extremely disappointed that Children's is working with an architect with a huge conflict of interest: as the descendant of Olive Higgins Prouty he ALSO gets to decide the construction is compatible with Ms. Prouty's wishes.
As a 13 year employee of Children's, it breaks my heart to see the Prouty Garden at risk of being lost forever. I have brought many patients to the Garden and gone there myself when times were hard and we needed hope and healing. It is a spiritual space that deserves respect and honor. Mrs. Prouty left the Garden as an endowment in memory of her daughters that passed in childhood. How is this being disregarded? Why would anyone want to endow Children's in the future if you can't trust that your endowment will be honored? Children's is supposed to be about healing; and when humans fail to heal, nature can.
I'm so thankful for fight to save the gardens. My son has been at Children's so many times and it is a respite to be able to frolic in a space that has meant so much to so many.
This is great news! Keep up the great work.