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Employees turn hospital construction into rose garden legacy

Posted on Aug. 4, 2014 ( comments)
Greg McKerman and Peter Balint show the salvaged pipe used for the newest addition to rose garden in Baker Center Plaza. 
Brandy Johnson, learning coordinator at MultiCare Institute for Learning and Development, knew she had something special when she won a 120-year-old climbing rose at a flower exchange in the Proctor District in Tacoma. 

She also knew the rose would be better off in someone else’s garden.

“I thought, ‘What if I kill this thing that’s been alive for 120 years?’” Johnson said. “I also didn’t want to plant it, move away and not know what happens to it. “

A coworker recommended she call MultiCare Health System Grounds Supervisor Brian Pasic. 

“We were curious about this one and had a place in the garden for it,” Pasic said. 

What the garden didn’t have was a trellis. So Pasic called MultiCare carpenter Peter Balint.

“I had a feeling someone down in the shop could do it and probably enjoy doing it,” Pasic said. “Peter is a talented and resourceful guy.”

Balint calls himself a jack-of-all trades. He knew the source for trellis material had to be copper the moment he got the call from Pasic.

“I knew there was salvaged material from the Phillip Pavilion remodel that would be thrown away,” Balint said. 

He called the superintendent on the job to see if he could use some of the material. The superintendent told him to take whatever he needed. 

Balint worked with Greg McKerman in MultiCare’s engineering department to start the project. McKerman called the trellis one of the shop’s unusual requests. Like Johnson, Pasic and Balint, he had no hesitation about joining the effort.

“You don’t get a request for a 120-year-old rose every day,” McKerman said. “We do what we can to help everyone, but that one is special because it’s for Mary Bridge. It’s for the kids.”

Balint sketched, cut and welded the trellis in the workshop located beneath MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. It took him one day to build and a few hours to install. 

Johnson is pleased with the rose’s new home.

“The rose is historic and the hospital has been here for a long time,” she said. “It’s eternal there.”

Pasic calls the rose and trellis one of the many legacies of employees at MultiCare.

“So many employees give beyond the call or need. We try to create a healing environment. We’re part of that continuum with nature, color and textures,” Pasic said. “Having beauty around us is necessary for our healing and well-being.”

And a story about employees working together to make something happen isn’t unusual. 

“One of the best things about this organization is the great people you end up meeting,” Pasic said. “Folks have big hearts. You can feel like you are part of a community that can make a difference.”

Balint is big-hearted and humble about his accomplishment. But if you listen closely when he talks about the rose trellis be made, you can hear pride.

“The trellis will be here forever; I’m happy about that,” Balint said. “Maybe in 20 years I can come back and point it out to my kids and grandkids and say, ‘Hey this is something I did when I was working here.’”
Posted in: General Vitals

About The Author

Jen Rittenhouse Jen Rittenhouse
Jen Rittenhouse is the social media manager for MultiCare and Mary Bridge Children's Hospital. She writes stories that connect people with hospitals, health care and each other. You can reach her at [email protected].
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