MPH student cultivates bountiful therapeutic garden for patients at Dodd Rehab Hospital

Jaime Joseph, a Master of Public Health student in the College of Public Health's Program for Experienced Professionals, chose to revamp a therapeutic garden at the Dodd Rehabilitation Hospital as part of his practicum project.

After six months of hard work, patients can now enjoy fragrant flowers and homegrown vegetables and herbs while spending long stays at the hospital. Located outside the building's west entrance, the garden contains a variety of beds situated alongside a circular walking path. Some of the beds are raised, allowing patients in wheelchairs easy access to the plants.

"Gardens are therapeutic because of their beauty and usefulness," said Joseph, who admits he knew very little about planting a garden before tackling the project in March.

Joseph learned by reading and asking a lot of questions. He approached farmers at outdoor markets and called on the experts at the Chadwick Arboretum and Learning Gardens on the Ohio State campus. Volunteers there pitched in flowers and their time for the cause, and Joseph provided the vegetables.

"I want to use my education in public health to impact what I believe is one of the root causes of disease - our diet," Joseph said. "Therapeutic gardens exist all over, but we wanted ours to be an edible garden as well."

Joseph motivated patients to get involved, too. They planted flowers, plucked weeds and harvested seeds for next year's crop. They also transferred dead vegetation to a compost pile to later be used as fertilizer.

Herbs, including dill, basil and parsley, were collected for a salad bar in the hospital. Onions, green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and collard greens also were gathered for patients' salads.

Joseph gained skills in assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation in the PEP program. His academic advisor is Randi Love, clinical associate professor in the Division of Health Behavior and Health Promotion.

"Jaime's exemplary efforts have made a difference in the lives of the patients at Dodd by engaging them in therapeutic gardening," Love said. "It's a strategy that can be replicated in other contexts."

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About The Ohio State University College of Public Health

The Ohio State University College of Public Health is a leader in educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and improving the livelihoods and well-being of people in Ohio and beyond.  The College’s divisions include biostatistics, environmental health sciences, epidemiology, health behavior and health promotion, and health services management and policy.   It is ranked 19th among all colleges of public health in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report, and also includes the top 10-ranked MHA degree program.  The College provides leadership and expertise for Ohio and the world through its Center for Health Outcomes, Policy and Evaluation Studies (HOPES), Center for Public Health Practice, and the NCI-funded Center of Excellence in Regulatory Tobacco Science (CERTS).