Many Voices Still Unheard: Boston Children’s Hospital Expansion Decision

Current needs vs future needs: Both can be met

In my personal opinion the news broadcasts all briefly touched upon what the garden means to people. However, I just wish that there was so much more available to the public about the depth of connection to this garden, and how devastated people are at the thought of this resource being gone forever. If you could hear about the woman from Maine who is used to living on a large farm and is now living at the hospital with her daughter, for them the garden has been their saving grace. There are so many others like her that truly need that green space. One thing that was left out of the conversation is the possibility of building nearby on their very own property, which would give the hospital the ability expand but also maintain the garden as well. We keep hearing the same story and that this is the only option. However many know that this is not the case.

WBUR mentioned Jonathon Swersey of Newton has a 5-year-old daughter who’s been treated for cancer at Boston Children’s Hospital. They added a bit more information regarding his heartfelt speech which was very touching.


However I heard a few more details that I would like to share. He also mentioned that his daughter has spent four long years undergoing her cancer treatment at the hospital, and his younger daughter has pretty much grown up in the hospital as well, by her sisters side. Nobody has actually touched upon the fact that many healthy kids spend days, months, years within the hospitals walls supporting their siblings through difficult times. There are special programs at the hospital to help siblings adjust and to understand all of the difficult circumstances surrounding them, along with a 1/2 acre garden in which to escape, cope, or even grieve. A rooftop garden with no mature trees or private nooks in which to cry privately or just be alone, will not adequately serve the patients, families, and staff who need it the most.



There are actually some positions at the hospital that have a really high turnover rate due to the level of emotional difficulty that is imposed upon these employees. Imagine how that figure could drastically increase if Prouty garden is removed. Imagine a doctor making a difficult decision about operating on a child’s brain or spine and not having a quiet place in which to escape to other than four walls, to gather his or her thoughts on how best to proceed. Better yet imagine being stuck in your own home for a year with no access to your own back yard. Now think of the children and families with many belongings stacked upon the windows ledge in their room doubling as a built-in cabinet, beeping monitors all around, white walls, curtains, IV drips, and the smell of rubbing alcohol in the air. Wouldn’t you wish that you had access to a 1/2 ace garden with mature trees, bunnies, birds, and a fountain? Well, currently they do. Why would anyone want to take that away from them? This would be a huge disservice to the people currently benefiting from the gardens healing properties by only thinking of the needs of the future patients. The needs of both must be considered!

The people of the state of Massachusetts have not been fully heard regarding this matter, and that is a very sad result of politics and administrators constructing a picture of just what they want the public to believe.

What I witnessed on 10/20/2016 was a drastically different picture. A rather large group of newscasters seemed extremely interested in what Friends of Prouty Garden had to say in front of the statehouse’s gold dome beaming with sunlight. On this crisp fall day there was a good sized turnout of Prouty supporters which was pretty well-balanced by the number of reporters that attended. They were engaged, inquisitive, some even tearing up at the testimonies of various speakers, volunteers, doctors, a priest. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to see even more of this coverage.

Children’s Hospital keeps drawing focus on something that they have made the general public believe to be the facts. They want you to believe that Friends of Prouty Garden are against expansion, which is not the case at all. They are actually their allies because they are taking into consideration all of their patients, families, and staffs wishes.

In my own experiences I have spoken with countless individuals regarding this matter. All of the garden supporters that I have come into contact with have all expressed their love and deep gratitude for this hospital, as well as their staff. Most feel as if the administration is acting alone and not taking their own caregivers into consideration. I consider that very dishonorable for such a high ranking institution that would not exist without those very individuals that walk through their doors each and every day and deal with the most extreme and difficult cases.
Most garden supporters are not against expansion, they are for expansion as well, just in another location. New information has come to light regarding the ability for the hospital to build right on their very own property next to the garden, not on top of it. This way all of the needs of all of their patients will be addressed. So often in our society a line is drawn in the sand, and we are forced to make a choice upon which side to choose. In this case we do not have to choose any side. We can have both!
What a concept? We can have our cake and eat it too. How often do we get a chance to say that? So why not keep the garden and build where there are two outdated buildings on their very own property? Or across the street for that matter? Politics?

Some may say that is the case.

The CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital Sandra Fenwick stated on WBUR

“This is for the children, it’s for the families, and it’s for the future,”

However quite frankly when you are ignoring the needs of a large amount of your staff, patients, families, and over 17,000 petition signers from within the community it then becomes more about the money and no longer about the people.
Friends of Prouty Garden supporters represent the past, present, and future patients, as well as their families.
They are also made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, respiratory care, priests, volunteers, artists, professionals, environmentalists and many others caring individuals who just know that saving the garden is the right thing to do. They represent an entire community of people. So, if you don’t know of anyone who has been chronically ill or who has been through cancer treatments, good for you. You are the lucky ones. However that is not the case for many others who are surprised by a difficult diagnosis and then forced to find sufficient coping mechanisms to get through each and every day, one minute at a time. This garden makes those minutes more bearable. So the next time you are stuck in your bed for a week with the flu and can’t bare it any longer, please think about the children and families at Children’s Hospital stuck for a year or more and what a world of difference an established healing garden means to them. What would it mean for current and future patients if it no longer existed?



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