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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2013
Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
              Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

Montana State Hospital opens new greenhouse for patients

• Officials say greenhouse provides therapy, helps patients increase their work skills
• Open house is slated for Wednesday, May 1 at 1 p.m.

The Montana State Hospital (MSH) in Warm Springs has vastly expanded its gardening program by opening a new greenhouse on the facility campus, Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials said today.

An open house for the new Healing Waters Greenhouse is scheduled for Wednesday, May 1, 2013 at 1 p.m. Funding for the project was provided through a grant from the Montana Mental Health Settlement Trust.

Governor Steve Bullock, who as attorney general established the Montana Mental Health Settlement Trust, said that the project is a great illustration of state employees going the extra mile to care for the people they serve. "I'm proud of the hospital staff for finding ways to improve the experience for those being served at MSH," the Governor said. "This is a great project that will make a difference in people's lives and pay dividends for years to come."

DPHHS Director Richard Opper said expanding the gardening program is a nice boost to the treatment services already being provided at MSH. "Growing flowers and vegetables gives patients an opportunity to focus on something other than their symptoms or the fact that they are hospitalized," he said. "Patients have said this greenhouse is important to them because it's about pride in the creation of something new and creates hope for the future."

Montana State Hospital Rehabilitation Department Manager Beth Eastman initiated the idea for the 48 by 24-foot greenhouse. "There are many benefits and positive outcomes associated with providing a gardening program," Eastman said. "The atmosphere of a greenhouse is very calming and relaxing. In addition, the greenhouse will provide employment to patients to help them gain work skills that can be transferred to the community."

It's a project that started years ago when Eastman became aware of the possible benefit to patients. So, Eastman started a small gardening group that created flower beds and grew vegetables such as lettuce and broccoli. And when a grant opportunity arose to expand to a greenhouse, Eastman jumped at the chance. In November 2011, MSH was awarded a $141,000 grant from the Montana Mental Health Settlement Trust for the construction of the greenhouse. The structure was completed in January of 2013.

"The grant provided an opportunity to expand and improve upon the vocational program at Montana State Hospital," she said. "We plan to funnel proceeds from the sale of the product(s) back into patient employment opportunities on campus."

Eastman said plants such as geraniums, marigolds, petunias, tulips and daffodils will be grown, in addition to herbs such as parsley and thyme. She said patients are excited to begin enjoying the greenhouse. "They absolutely love it," she said. "Patients have spent time researching the best plants to grow and how to water, fertilize and grow all the products. Overall, the patients are taking great pride in the ownership of the greenhouse."

Page last updated: April 8, 2013