When it comes to improving the patient experience, Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Engineering department consistently finds ways to add special touches that make a difference.
One such feature is a beautiful, little-known patio garden outside of the Rady Pediatrics Unit on the La Mesa campus.
Toward the back of the patio is a colorful hand-made contraption filled with soil and bursting with flowers, fruits and vegetables growing at all angles. This vertical drum garden saves close to 90 percent of water used. With the current drought, it is a great way to "go green."
For Andy Grossman, operations and projects manager at Sharp Grossmont, this garden serves a dual purpose. It provides a unique source of activity and entertainment for young patients and their families. It also can be used to teach high school students about sustainability, appropriate use of tools and general construction safety, and it provides an opportunity to do something positive and long-term.
Andy has built drum gardens before, and even has one in his own backyard. He confesses that the idea started with his wife, who encouraged him to build one at home and for the hospital. Andy devised a plan to pair students from Health and Science High School — who come to Sharp Grossmont as part of their curriculum — with a team of qualified engineers so students could learn how to build one.
Through close hands-on instruction, engineers taught the students about vermicomposting (using worms), sustainability and building with proper tools and safety equipment — lessons they can take with them for the rest of their lives.
"It's been a productive and fun project for us, and it makes others happy," says Grossman, who has worked at Grossmont for nearly a decade. "Seeing the smiles on people's faces — whether students, engineers, caregivers or patients — lets me know we did something good."
Now, patients and their families who spend time on the Pediatrics Patio will always see an array of colorful flowers popping out of the corner of the garden, demonstrating that beauty can come from the most unexpected places.