Our supporters have been sending us some marvelous photos from the Prouty Garden this week. This year's mild winter and recent rash of unseasonably warm days have left us with early signs of spring—daffodil shoots, buds on trees, and people breathing happy sighs as they sink down onto fresh grass. For those of us who worried we may never seen another spring in Prouty, these are soothing and welcoming signs indeed.
The hospital administration has argued that the garden is only in use during a small portion of the year, and that even then, it is minimally used. In fact, many patients, parents and staff enjoy the outdoors in many conditions, and many a snowman has been built in winter in the Prouty, sometimes cleverly dressed in a hospital gown and mask! Though the day on which many of these photos were taken was unseasonably warm, it is not uncommon to have days such as this spanning March - October, three-quarters of the year.
Amongst all these heartwarming photos, we also received a disturbing one, one that should make you very angry. This sign details how the hospital's library and archives, which border on the Prouty Garden and are to be demolished as part of the hospital's expansion plans, will be closing in a few short weeks and moving to an off-site location. This is disturbing because it is further proof that the hospital is moving forward with preparing for construction, even though it has yet to receive approval on its Determination of Need application with the Department of Public Health.
As we point out in our legal comments to the DPH, state regulations require that "any substantial capital expenditure for construction or renovation, or any substantial change in services, by a health care facility be preceded by a determination of need for such by the Department of Public Health." BCH has incurred such expenditures and commenced construction prior to DoN approval, in fact, in many instances, prior to even applying for a DoN, which it did not do until December 7th, 2015. We believe the hospital should therefore face the requisite fines and penalties.
TO BE CLEAR: This is not over. The hospital has been making moves like this for quite some time. The DPH will be considering BCH's DoN application in the months ahead. We have a lot more we can do to keep up the pressure on the hospital to preserve the space. In fact, we need your help now more than ever, through donations, sharing your stories and personal photos, and helping to spread the word about the critical importance of the Prouty Garden.
The new planned expansion will have smaller areas of year-round greenspace—an expected and necessary feature of any clinical building built in 2016. However, these are not substitutes for the Prouty Garden. The assertion that the Prouty Garden receives minimal use is grossly overstated in an attempt to justify the destruction of this vibrant healing space. We continue to implore hospital leaders to find a solution, just like the ones they find everyday, for children with nowhere else to turn, and to put the new, necessary clinical building elsewhere.