Past Projects

Hiawatha Healing Garden Completed

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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

Hospital project benefits patients, community


Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center CEO Scott Larson gives credit to staff and contractors for completing a $7.5 million remodel project under budget and five months early.

Staff made many sacrifices so portions of the remodel and upgrades could be done in fewer steps. For example, physical therapy worked out of the old emergency room garage for a time. Some departments shared cramped quarters to give builders room to work. When water was turned off, staff filled thermoses and buckets with water for washing and other uses. Construction was done during business hours to keep overtime costs down “It’s not fun, but they did a good job,” Larson said.

Larson, who worked through many construction projects at former locations before his current job, said the contractors on the Canton project were the best he’s worked with. It helped that many of the workers live nearby and are familiar with the facility.

“They were very flexible and used common sense,” Larson said. And they paid attention to detail. For example, the first switch in the light switch panel of each patient room controls the same thing, and so on.

Construction continues on the last phase of the project – the outpatient rooms. But many of the departments within the hospital have been working in their new spaces for several months.

Visitors to the hospital will notice a new lobby and registration area right inside the front doors. Combining hospital and clinic registration has proven efficient for staff and convenient for patients. People needing emergency services receive care in private rooms. Physical therapy patients can do their workouts in a gymnasium area more than twice as large as the former physical therapy space.

Works by local artists adorn the walls throughout the hospital. In addition, some wall decorations honor the past. One wall shows the history of the hospital through images of newspaper articles, photos and other memorabilia. Another wall names each of the people who donated a total of $565,407.78 toward the Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital, which opened in 1975 and was purchased by Sanford in 2008.

And while the hospital maintains its rural nature, it has the Sanford network to provide specialized expertise in not only medical care, but services such as human resources and information technology as well. It can be difficult for an independent facility to know all the current, sometimes complicated, federal and state regulations.

Being connected to Sanford means “you have a mother ship to help you,” Larson said.

Lisa Alden, director of the Canton Chamber of Commerce, said the hospital’s recent upgrade is a boon to the city of 3,000 residents. “I think that’s going to be a big draw for the city now, knowing that surrounding communities can come to Canton now, knowing the enhanced services they can provide,” she said.

Sanford Canton-Inwood is active in Chamber activities, with hospital marketing specialist Melissa Schutte on the Chamber board.

“The hospital has been active since day one,” Alden said. For example, each March, the hospital – one of the top five employers in town — holds a health fair in conjunction with the Chamber’s expo. “They have a really big draw that brings the helicopter in, and inflatables for the kids, and they make that into a family event,” Alden said. “It’s a great asset to have in a small community like Canton,” she said.

The Canton-Inwood Area Health Foundation, which has an office in the hospital, provided $2.9 million toward the recent renovation project. In addition, the Foundation offers community grants and scholarships annually. In May, four $1,000 scholarships were awarded to high school seniors.Larson said the Foundation will likely contribute toward the Hiawatha Healing Garden. A fundraiser for the garden will kick off on May 28, during the hospital’s open house.

Recent construction forced the closure of an existing patio, and the $100,000 healing garden project will provide a green space for patients and the public. People can buy pavers or make a donation to help raise money for a gazebo, water feature, walking path and lighting Larson said.

Larson envisions other facilities in Canton that would enhance the health of area residents, such as a senior center, a 4-H building, a new golf course clubhouse and a community center with a banquet hall.

He said he is in the process of spearheading interest in making those dreams come to life, and he can draw on his experience in construction projects to help with those possibilities.

“It’s kind of fun to watch projects take shape from beginning to end,” he said.

Canton-Inwood Area Health Foundation Provides New Ambulance


A new ambulance recently put into service by Sanford Canton-Inwood is bringing a new level of emergency care to the area. Fully-equipped with cardiac monitors, advanced airway equipment and life-saving medications that meet ACLS standards, the ambulance allows for urgent treatment of cardiac arrest and other life-threatening medical emergencies, according to Sanford Canton-Inwood CEO, Eric Hilmoe.

But, the arrival of a new ambulance symbolizes more than medical advancements and top-of-the-line equipment to the community. By meeting a medical-related need and enhancing quality of medical care, it also represents the purpose of the Canton-Inwood Area Health Foundation.

The Foundation, according to Chairperson Brenda Van Zee was created when Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital was sold to Sanford Health.  The money from the sale was designated to provide philanthropic support for the hospital as well as health and wellness initiatives for the communities it serves.

The purpose of the Foundation, said Van Zee, is to provide support that allows the hospital to complete medical, technological and facility enhancements that ultimately improve patient care. In addition, the Foundation hopes to promote research, educational programs and assist with community health care needs.

“Our first project was the purchase of the ambulance,” she stated.

Choosing the ambulance as a first project is fitting according to Hilmoe. “The ambulance service is truly a community health effort,” he said.

Hilmoe explained the Canton Inwood Ambulance Corporation is a collaborative effort by the city of Canton, Sanford Canton-Inwood and volunteers.

“The crew consists of trained volunteers. They are the heart of the operation,” said Hilmoe. “The level of care we provide is excellent due to our dedicated volunteers and their understanding employers who allow them to leave work when the need arises.”

The Foundation board is also comprised of a diverse group of volunteers from Canton, Inwood and the surrounding area.  Their job is to decide how the funds will be used. One thing is certain, “This money and any money raised in the future will go directly back into the community to enhance our health and well-being,” Van Zee commented.

“It’s really a ‘reinvestment’ by those who supported Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital throughout the years,” said Hilmoe.

The distribution of funds is governed by the by-laws of the Foundation and law. The Board of Directors may designate an amount not to exceed ten percent of the anticipated annual earning of the corporation’s assets.

Looking to the future, Van Zee said the Foundation has already made a commitment to purchase advanced x-ray equipment for the hospital. Sanford Health will pay for the remodeling necessary to accommodate the equipment, according to Hilmoe.

Although the hospital will benefit from the donation, Van Zee added, “It’s important people realize the Foundation is not connected to the daily operation of the hospital.”

Van Zee said, “We are exploring options for a wellness program that would benefit all ages.” Grants and scholarships are also being considered.

“It’s really all about benefiting the health and well-being of our friends and neighbors,” stressed Van Zee.