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November 24, 2015

Therapeutic Garden Benefits Rehab Patients

A new therapeutic garden at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah will help rehab patients regain their day-to-day functions.

Foundation Funds New Outdoor Space at Theda Clark Medical Center

A new therapeutic garden at Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah will help rehab patients regain their day-to-day functions.

The garden was built just outside the inpatient rehab unit at the hospital and has a variety of features that don’t just offer a scenic view, but will foster the patients’ ability to interact with nature and work on functional activities in a safe environment. Patients will receive therapy in this setting to help improve their balance, walking, and other life skills, said Sara Kloes, manager of the rehab unit. She said both inpatient and outpatient rehab patients will work in the garden with their therapists.

“There are various surfaces, including a bridge, steps, uneven surfaces and various textures, such as grass and mulch, to challenge their balance,” Kloes said. “The whole space was designed to help patients work on therapeutic activities in a meaningful, real life setting.

The therapeutic garden will be used whenever the temperature is above 30 degrees since “this is Wisconsin and our patients need to be prepared to walk in the different elements,” Kloes said. “We’re really taking some of the indoor therapy elements we’ve done inside and moved them outside We can also work on some of the things a patient might be doing at home,  such as watering plants, raking leaves, or doing simple weeding.”

The ThedaCare Family of Foundations donated $500,000 to make the garden possible. Kara Muchow, regional development director-leadership and impact giving for the Foundations, said the board of trustees view the garden as a way to enhance patient care.

“A rehabilitation garden like this is an innovative approach to healthcare that will give our patients a positive experience during their recovery,” she said. “The Foundation looks to partner with ThedaCare on projects that help the patient experience go from excellent to exceptional.”

Kloes said the rehab staff and patients are grateful to the foundation’s generosity to make the garden a reality. “A garden isn’t something that can be supported by the department budget, so the Foundation’s involvement was instrumental in making this happen,” she said.

The garden space is visible to patients on other floors as well and they’ll benefit from seeing the green space, too, Kloes said.

“This is something that goes beyond just the patients in rehab,” she said. “It’s been shown that being outdoors can raise your emotional well-being and that combined with the physical benefits of the patient’s therapy make this garden an important addition to the hospital.”

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 35 clinics in 14 counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.  Construction of ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton is underway. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.