Hiawatha Healing Garden Under Construction

Spending long hours in a hospital can be stressful. Nearby access to natural landscape or a garden has been proven to enhance people’s ability to deal with stress and thus potentially improve health outcomes.

With that in mind, Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center employees Lynn Waite and Elizabeth Bockelman proposed the idea of a “healing garden” on the grounds of the facility.

“I thought it was a great idea and so did others,” said Scott Larson, chief executive officer at SCIMC.

A group of volunteers was formed to research the feasibility of such a project and local landscape designer Jim Elling was hired to create a proposal. Through discussion and with acknowledgment of history, the group decided to pursue the project that will be known as the Hiawatha Healing Garden.

“The name Hiawatha is fitting,” said Larson.In the late 1940’s, the Canton-Inwood Hospital Association purchased and remodeled the former Hiawatha Asylum for Insane Indians into Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital. The hospital remained in the building until 1974 when a new hospital was built at the same location. A medical clinic was added in the 1990’s and an assisted living completed in 1997. Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center has recently remodeled and expanded the building, but it still operates at the historical location.

“We have access to the gates, pillars and some other artifacts from the Hiawatha building and hope to incorporate them into the garden,” commented Larson.

The vision for the Hiawatha Healing Garden is an area for relaxation and rejuvenation available to patients and their families, residents of Hiawatha Heights Assisted Living, staff and the community.

The project will be entirely funded by donations.

“There will be various donor levels and recognition,” remarked Larson. “There will be a way for everyone to participate.”

One of the ways the group will be raising funds is through the sale of engraved patio pavers. The pavers are available for $50 or $100 and will be used to create the path and patio areas throughout the garden.

“We will only be able to move forward with the project as we receive funds,” Larson commented.” However, we are excited to see this idea become a reality and look forward to the psychological, social, emotional and spiritual benefits it will bring to our patients, staff and community.”

For more information or to make a donation, contact Melissa Schutte at (605) 764-1495 or