Seventy clinicians from Boston Children's Hospital have sent hospital administrators a petition imploring them to "reverse course" on plans to demolish Prouty Garden, a healing garden that was gifted to the hospital 60 years ago.
The petition calls Prouty Garden a "precious asset," an "enduring therapeutic resource" and a testament to the hospital's commitment to compassionate care.
The doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who signed the petition say they've been left out of the hospital's decision to construct an 11-story clinical building on the site of the garden and build other smaller, green spaces throughout the property.
Dermatology program director Dr. Stephen Gellis helped organize the petition.
"You cannot replace [Prouty Garden] with indoor gardens or with the [outdoor] garden they're planning," Gellis told WBUR. "It's just depressing. I think so many people have gotten joy from the garden and solace."
Boston Children's Hospital spokesman Rob Graham issued a statement saying the planned clinical building is "essential to meeting the needs" of the hospital's patients and families, it has the support of the Prouty Garden donor's family members and foundation, and it's been subject to public approvals since 2012.
The planned building will feature a new state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care unit and will allow the hospital to offer all private patient rooms, thereby eliminating double-bedded rooms, according to administrators.
"Boston Children’s has great appreciation for what the Prouty Garden offers patients, families and our staff," the hospital statement reads. "That is why our clinical expansion will focus on open and green spaces to support healing for everyone throughout our campus, year round."
Hospital officials say the facility will ultimately have 25 percent more "green space" than it has now.
Dr. John Mulliken is a pediatric plastic surgeon, director of the Craniofacial Center and co-director of the Vascular Anomalies Center at Boston Children's Hospital. He also signed the petition.
"Until I see a hole in the ground we still have a chance to save the Prouty Garden. It's the soul of the hospital. It's the sanctuary that we all need — particularly the kids, but the parents and the staff, as well, " Mulliken says. "I've always been proud to work at Children's Hospital for the last 40 years. But now I really question what they're doing."
Hospital administrators say construction on the new building will start next year.