The Healing Garden at Piedmont Regional Medical Center

The Labyrinth / image: Marguerite Koepke

Healthcare & Therapeutic Garden Design Interview Series: Joel Siebentritt, Director of the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support, part of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, Athens, GA

The need for cancer support and patient services was first envisioned by a very special group of nurses, caregivers, and cancer survivors in the mid- to late 1990s. They used their understanding of not only medicine but also complementary therapies to begin planning a physical facility to serve these needs. At first, the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support was conceived mainly as a building but soon the planning grew into a more holistic idea of not only a structure but a building surrounded by nature and naturalistic gardens. Since its inception, the Center has grown from an idea and an unused piece of property on the edge of the hospital campus into a vital center of support for patients, caregivers, and family member. The healing garden is an important and integral part of the Center’s mission and is designed to serve the hospital, its caregivers, patients and their families, as well as the broader Athens community.

Joel Siebentritt, the Center’s director, is a passionate supporter of the garden and driving force behind getting the garden built, funded, and perhaps most importantly, programmed for important uses and functions. He loves nature and every day can see from his office window people who are using, enjoying, and benefiting from their interactions there. The following is an interview with Joel that delves more deeply into his connections to the garden and the garden’s history and purpose.

The following interview with Joel Siebentritt, Director of the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support, was conducted by Marguerite Koepke, RLA, ASLA, professor emeritus, College of Environment + Design, University of Georgia.

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