Sure, Community Memorial Hospital is on the cutting edge when it comes to high-tech treatments for all kinds of ailments we encounter in our lives. However, sometimes the best treatments grow from a mix of dirt, sun, and water.
Over the summer, CMH Volunteer Coordinator Sue Schuelke brought together roughly 10 volunteers to tend an L-shaped garden on the grounds of the hospital. The fresh produce was donated to patients at the CMH Outreach Clinic, which provides free health care for needy residents in the area. Parts of the harvest were also donated to the Menomonee Falls Area Food Pantry.
It’s one of the only medical facilities to distribute its own produce to the community grown on a hospital-operated vegetable garden on its property.
“We wanted to benefit our patients, and some 50-60 percent of our patients are suffering from some sort of chronic disease,” said Andy Dresang, manager of community outreach. “It was a perfect tie in. Here are some perfectly easy steps to improve your health. A lot of what contributes to your health is diet.”
A nurse with Outreach Clinic routinely visits patients to advice them on proper dieting to achieve health benefits. It was easy for patients to get on track to better health with an abundance of fresh produce
Despite a treacherous summer in terms of heat and drought, volunteers reaped a heft harvest. Here’s a look at what the vegetable garden yielded:
- Cherry tomatoes -- 67 pints
- Cucumbers -- 477
- Green beans -- 17 pint bags.
- Green peppers -- 92
- Kohlrabi -- 6
- Lettuce -- 1 quart bag
- Spinach -- 1 gallon bag
- Tomatoes -- 897
- Zucchini – 164
More than 170 volunteer hours went into making the garden a success. The hospital’s “volunteens” picked up most of the labor for the garden. The CMH Summer Volunteen program is a 9-week volunteer program catered for teens and young adults. A volunteer was there for morning and afternoon shifts throughout the summer.
“Our volunteers come to us with a lot of experience, talents, and skills. We try to tap into that because we want them to be longtime volunteers,” Schuelke said. “We need to find ways to make programs successful for them.”
CMH has already expanded the garden and they plan to add an educational component to the program. There are volunteer opportunities available right now at CMH if you would like to get involved.
“Right now we need courtesy drivers to get patients around the campus, we need gift shop volunteers, and volunteers to help with our fundraising cookie sales,” Schuelke said.
Volunteer nurses and physicians are also in high demand- as always - at the Outreach Clinic.
“We’ll accommodate any kind of medical profession, and there are a number of positions at the clinic where you don’t need medical training, as well,” Dresang said.
If want to learn about more ways to volunteers at CMH, visit their volunteer page online.