Zen Garden at Erlanger provides sanctuary

Art in hospitals not only has a positive effect on patients, it also inspires visitors and staff — which is why Erlanger physicians and associates have created a new Zen garden as part of the downtown hospital upgrade.

Bringing art into hospitals is a passion Chief of Cardiology, Dr. Charles Campbell brought with him when he arrived last year. “When he stopped by my office, he noticed my artwork, and we began discussing how art in hospitals has a positive effect on patient outcomes — and how he wanted to bring that into Erlanger,” said Cindy Olsen, Chief Business Officer, Physician Services. “I mentioned my desire for a Zen garden on campus for visitors, since there are so few quiet areas here. He never let me forget it!”

Initially led by Dr. Campbell and Bruce Komiske, VP of New Hospital Design and Construction, the “Arts at Erlanger” initiative quickly took shape. When other physicians and associates heard about the art-infusion, they volunteered their time, energy, and funds to make it happen.

Today, tucked away in a small corner of the Erlanger Baroness hospital downtown, the Zen garden is open for all to enjoy. Guests can feel a gentle breeze, hear the soft trickle of water, and see natural plants and rocks as they immerse themselves in tranquility to rejuvenate their minds and spirits. “Our wish for the garden’s visitors is to have a quiet respite where they can collect their thoughts, meditate, or pray,” Olsen said. The traditional Japanese-inspired plan features a Japanese Maple and Umbrella Pine trees, boulders, a Juniper Topiary, Hydrangeas and Forest Grass, a Tsukubai or water feature, an Ishidoro or granite lantern, an iris and lily garden, and custom-built wooden benches.

Now chaired by Judy Spiegel and Martica Lambiase, “Arts at Erlanger” and its committee recognizes the following departments and individuals for their support of the Zen garden:

  • UT Erlanger Cardiology and Dr. Charles Campbell – (Beni Shishihenge) Japanese Maple and Umbrella Pine trees
  • OrthoSouth at Erlanger and Dr. Richard Alvarez – (Ishidoro) Japanese lantern
  • Southern Orthopedic Trauma Surgeons at Erlanger and Drs. Jesse Doty and Dirk Kiner – boulders
  • Academic Urologists at Erlanger and Dr. Amar Singh – (Tsukubai) Water feature
  • Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger – Hydrangeas and Forest Grass in memory of Donna Mason
  • Steve Burkett – Iris and Lily Garden in memory of Frieda Burkett
  • Britt Tabor – Juniper Topiary in memory of Alton Tabor
  • Cindy and Chuck Olson – design, financial contribution and labor
  • Erlanger Staff: Ryan Fugate, Mike Baker, Marc Thomas, Steve Curd and others –prep work and labor
  • Chattanooga Rocks –boulder placement
  • The Barn Nursery – assistance with plants and trees
  • Unum Employees – labor

Donations to the Zen garden are still being accepted. To contribute, contact our Foundation Office at 423-778-6600, and designate funds to “Zen Garden.”