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September 28, 2018, Santa Cruz, California – When Dr. Keith McKenzie first envisioned healing gardens at Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital, he never imagined the result would be so incredible. He chaired the effort to encourage the Dominican Hospital Foundation to develop a master plan to create several gardens throughout Dominican Hospital. The new Monterey Peninsula Foundation Rehab Garden at Dominican has come to life with some heart-warming and amazing stories.

Designed by local architect Joanie Janecki, the garden is filled with significant elements and local involvement. Beautiful globe lights, designed by Joanie’s firm, were created by Roy Johnson of Johnson Lighting in Soquel, California. 

The Robert J. Bernardi and Bonnie Bernardi Therapy Area is only one part of the Rehabilitation Garden that is visited and enjoyed by doctors, staff members, and patients. Photo Courtesy of Dignity Health Dominican Hospital

The garden is a labor of love, and both patients and staff are enjoying its rehabilitative aspects. The garden is used for therapy, meetings, and lunch breaks by physicians, nurses, employees, therapists, and patients. 

At night, the garden comes to life to the delight of patients in surrounding rooms, including moms with babies and children in the pediatric rooms. Recently, one nurse said that his 30-minute lunch break in the garden felt like a two-hour break, making him feel restored.

Dr. Jennie Jet, Co-director of the Acute Rehabilitation Unit, recently said that while her patients are able to use the gardens for rehabilitation, she has a more personal connection. She said that each morning, she takes a beautiful, hand-crafted stick and rings the healing bell one time as she thinks about how grateful she is to live in Santa Cruz, to have her job at Dominican, and to have the honor to take care of patients each day. On the way home, she rings the bell again to end the day at the hospital. The bell was donated by local sculptor Angelo Grova.

Rodney Terra, contractor, enhanced the details of the garden. Rodney, President of FTG Construction and a welder and metal worker, designed some of the metal elements in the garden. He helped weld the metal fence cut out with flowers and butterflies. When Big Creek Lumber donated all the redwood for the garden, Rodney fashioned the metal brackets that clad the posts.

The garden exists through the efforts of 600 community members, foundations, employees, and physicians. Mark Monte is one of the benefactors. He named the garden’s putting green in honor of his parents. His mother, Doris, recently passed away, and Marc is very grateful that she is recognized in the garden – especially since she loved to volunteer at the hospital.

This aerial view shows some of the special features of Dominican Hospital’s new Monterey Peninsula Foundation Rehabilitation Garden. Photo Courtesy of Dignity Health Dominican Hospital


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