One step into the greenery storage room below the Pomerantz Family Pavilion, and you no longer feel like you’re in the basement of a hospital. It’s filled to the brim with greenery, plants, decorations, and other supplies.
The nearly 350 plants throughout UI Hospitals and Clinics don’t just take care of themselves, and during the holiday season, that number ramps up to around 600 plants.
Kathy Williams and Cindy Wood are both greenhouse caretakers in the Grounds Division of Maintenance and Engineering Services, or the “plant ladies,” as they are affectionately referred to. Together, they care for all of the live plants throughout the entire main hospital, in addition to about 500 artificial vines.
“People ask us all the time for advice on taking care of plants, and I love talking with them about it,” says Kathy. “It’s been an amazing job.” She’s been here for 35 years, and Cindy for 13 years; both of them have degrees in horticulture.
In addition to keeping the plants well hydrated, Kathy and Cindy also fertilize, re-pot, and relocate plants throughout the hospital—they say it takes a full week to water every plant in the hospital. The two women find homes in the hospital hallways for all of the plants, most of which are donated. They also tend to special memorial planters that UI Health Care faculty or staff members have established in memory of loved ones. Any department that wishes to have plants moved to or from their area should contact Kathy or Cindy directly.
The “big kahunas” comes out this time of year—the three poinsettia “trees,” which include a total of about 270 poinsettia plants. The three trees will be erected soon after Thanksgiving. The largest one will be in the Fountain Lobby (Elevator C, Level 1), one in the Pomerantz Family Pavilion Lobby (Elevator L, Level 1), and the third in the Center for Disabilities and Development. Kathy and Cindy set these up, keep them watered, and on Dec. 28, the individual poinsettias will be given away to any patient, visitor, or staff member who wants one.
Additionally, each primary entrance into the hospital will soon have a tree that the two women decorate, and the exterior hospital groundskeepers add lights, garland, and trees to the outside entrances as well. Departments also get trees and wreaths from the plant ladies to decorate their own areas. As if this doesn’t keep Kathy and Cindy busy enough, they also obtain about 500 small Norfolk Island living pines that are given to hospital volunteers and distributed to patients’ rooms (patients who can’t have live plants in their rooms receive miniature artificial trees).
So, the next time you notice some lovely greenery in the hospital, you have Kathy and Cindy to thank!