Hospital shows its flower power


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June 4, 2015 8:15 AM

Jaime Polmateer Photo The Lloydminster Hospital had a "Planting Work Bee" last week. The facility's departments broke up into teams and planted flowers on the hospital grounds to help beautify the property. Pictured is the pharmacy team, Opium and the Belladonnas. - Jaime Polmateer

A colourful initiative to spruce up the grounds at the Lloydminster Hospital was undertaken on May 27, when each of the departments at the facility, along with members of the public, split into teams, donned costumes and planted hundreds of flowers in the hospital’s courtyards.

Dubbed “Planting Work Bee” the project was started by volunteers Don Whittaker and Annette Widmeyer after Whittaker noticed the flowerbeds had become neglected. He took it upon himself to start tearing out the old plants, saying he’s a firm believer that it’s easier to beg for forgiveness than ask permission. And when hospital staff noticed what he was up to they began to lend a hand.

“(It) is really an opportunity to do some team building. Our flowerbeds had run down a little bit, they’ve overgrown and over-matured,” said Whittaker. “We started ripping them out and it sort of grew from there. We’re replacing everything we’d torn out and adding a lot more colour.”

Things became competitive when the departments made teams and decided to wear costumes to make it a bit more interesting. Prizes that were sponsored by the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation were given to participants based on categories like best team name, most enthusiasm and best costume.

This was the first time the hospital has had the informal event, but Whittaker says they’ll probably keep up with it annually as they develop a floral theme, which will likely involve more perennials and shrubs. He said this will ensure less work and create more character for the courtyard.

“The public spends a lot of time in the courtyard as do the staff. Everyone who enters the system enters through this door,” Whittaker said. “To me, this entryway is, when somebody comes from the region or the community, it’s their entry into the health system. So we want them to be overwhelmed when they come in here and say, ‘Wow.’

“It certainly sets the tone from what we had before as far as an image we had for the hospital and for the region.”

Whittaker has been volunteering for around three years and also has a strong history with the health region. He was on the health board before and after it was regionalized and was also on the health advisory council with Alberta Health Service for four years.

See “Flowers,” Page 17

His friend Ed Andersen, who is the husband of Kathy from Kathy’s Greenhouse, which donated the flowers, also has history with the health region having served as chairmen on the board. He said the greenhouse has supported the flowers at the hospital for a number of years, and though enthusiasm dropped off for a while, he says Whittaker is doing a “marvellous” job at stepping up and reviving it.

“It’s great, it’s good to see all of the fellowship between all of the people who are here,” said Andersen. “Working and doing the job of planting them and that’s what counts in a community.”

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