When entering the clinic internship portion of your education at National University, each student has some hours of community outreach that need to be completed before graduation. In our marketing classes, we learn about how important it is to become visible as a responsible member of whatever community in which we decide to practice. The outreach events are designed to create awareness of our school’s presence in Lombard and the surrounding neighborhoods, while allowing students a chance to give back and learn how to make connections with those who could become our future patients.
This weekend was the second of three summer gardening events planned at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. The hospital has four healing gardens that are cared for by volunteers, so that’s where we come in. ND, DC, and AOM students came together to work raking, sweeping, pulling weeds, and planting things to make the gardens a beautiful place for the patients. They even have an area for edible plants, and the herbs and vegetables grown there make their way into patient meals.
We do the best that we can with the supplies that have, but would love to do more for these spaces. We had the opportunity to speak with some of the in-resident patients about what they would like to see. One vet talked about how the garden used to have solar lights, and that he enjoyed looking out the windows into the garden at night after the doors were locked for the evening. The idea of new bird feeders and bird baths was also very popular with patients. The garden needs more topsoil and things like perennial or late summer plants. We will be back again to work on August 4, and are hoping to secure some donations to help improve the space that we are working in.
If you would like to help, please send a message to the Pride Medical Alliance Facebook page, and we will make sure that the veterans at the Hines VA hospital have some great spaces in which to spend time.