Wilmot Gardens: A place for healing and rest
Two dedication ceremonies honored memories of physicians who exemplified humanism in medicine
Feb. 24, 2017 – Since its creation in 1950, Wilmot Gardens on the University of Florida campus next to the UF Health Medical Oncology – Davis Cancer Pavilion has provided a green space for reflection, peace and renewal.
A pair of dedication ceremonies Feb. 24 carved out two more spaces in the garden for staff, faculty, students and patients to take a deep breath: the Richard C. Christensen, M.D., Memorial and the Chapman Healing Gardens.
The Richard C. Christensen, M.D., Memorial bears a plaque that reads, “The practice of medicine is a moral endeavor that is grounded in a covenant of care.” The quote from Christensen demonstrates his humanistic approach to medicine. The former UF professor of psychiatry died unexpectedly in 2015 while on a Habitat for Humanity build in Zambia.
About 60 of Christensen’s family members, friends and colleagues attended the dedication ceremony, at which the memorial was unveiled. Remarks were given by former UF College of Medicine dean and professor emeritus C. Craig Tisher; Regina Bussing, M.D., the Donald R. Dizney Chair in Psychiatry; Ana Thomas Turner, M.D., adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and winner of the Christensen Student Service Grant; Kara Russell, health services administrator for Jacksonville’s service center for the homeless, the Sulzbacher Center; and Brendan Shortley, director of Gainesville’s not-for-profit Helping Hands Clinic.
Shortley said Christensen’s legacy will live on in part through the Helping Hands psychiatry program for Gainesville’s homeless and mentally ill that Christensen started.
“He was a selfless, giving soul,” he said. “He was self-disciplined and contemplative. The gardens are the perfect place for solitude and reflection — things he enjoyed very much.”
The Chapman Healing Gardens were dedicated in a separate ceremony held later that day and attended by 40 faculty members, students and staff of the UF College of Medicine. The specific area of Wilmot Gardens was created to provide a full sensory experience to visitors, highlighting the fragrance, texture and colors of plants coupled with the auditory experience of a water feature.
Remarks were given by Tisher; Robert T. Watson, M.D., former senior associate dean for educational affairs at the UF College of Medicine and the Jules B. Chapman, M.D., professor in clinical care and humaneness; Jon Thomas, current Chapman scholar; and Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the UF College of Medicine. Watson and Good cut an orange and blue ribbon, signaling the area’s official public opening.
Good said the Chapman Healing Gardens is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Jules B. Chapman, M.D., and his wife, Annie Lou. The college’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society is named for Dr. Chapman, whose career in both medicine and the military spanned decades.
“In gardens, we find ourselves and we connect with others,” Good said. “This space is very special, and I know it will promote healing in many ways.”