The bedding plants are ordered; the planters, flower and shrub beds will soon be prepared; and volunteers are eagerly awaiting the annual planting bee at health care facilities in Lloydminster.
It’s the annual Blooms for Healthcare campaign in the city that straddles the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. An ever-growing number of local and area residents volunteer their time and talents each spring and summer to beautify entrances, courtyards and other plant beds at Lloydminster Hospital, the adjacent Lloydminster Community Health building, Jubilee Home long-term care facility, Dr. Cooke Extended Care Centre, and Lloydminster Continuing Care facility.
Don Whittaker (left) and Ed Anderson enjoy the fruits of their labour in a Lloydminster hospital courtyard.
The aim of the work to keep shrubs and perennial plants healthy and nurture luscious colourful annual plants and flowers is to provide a warm welcome to everyone who enters the Lloydminster facilities, and a cheerful farewell to people as they leave.
“We hope it impacts patients, residents and their families positively as they come through the facilities for health care,” said Don Whittaker, the unofficial founder of Blooms for Healthcare and a long-time former health care board member for Lloydminster and area.
“We also hope the planters we do at employee entrances are rewarding for staff. We see the planters as a welcome to work and have a good day. When staff leave at the end of their day, the plants represent a thank you for what you’ve done and we appreciate you.”
It all began with a simple selfless act.
Don took it upon himself to try to improve the main entrance to Lloydminster Hospital by picking a few weeds in a front entrance flowerbed. He wanted to make the entranceway a little nicer and more inviting for patients, visitors and staff.
That was about nine years ago.
That action prompted a few more people to get involved. The result is the Blooms for Healthcare movement in the Border City.
Today, Blooms for Healthcare is flourishing. It is supported by the Lloydminster Region Health Foundation (LRHF), local businesses and organizations, local physicians and health care staff, patients, families, area residents, Alberta Health Services, and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
Ed Anderson, Don’s good friend and former member of LRHF, joined him in the program. Together, they lead the initiative though they humbly say, “It’s not about us.”
“It’s really a work of passion for Ed and I,” said Don. “We believe in what we’re doing. We hope that we’re making a difference. The comments we get back on a continuous basis certainly support that,” he added.
Whittaker and his team of volunteers are gearing up for planting, now that spring has arrived. The flower and shrub beds will be prepared by SHA staff. The flowers will arrive from a local greenhouse.
“Then it’s a planting bee for Blooms for Healthcare, along with pruning of shrubs and bushes,” Whittaker said. “People are welcome to come and help out. They can also donate through the Lloydminster Foundation for the plants and items we need to do the work.”
Whittaker sees no reason this type of initiative can’t be replicated at health facilities throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta. “It’s a pride in our local health care services and facilities, and a pride in our local communities,” he said.