The new St. André Health Care Memory Care Garden in Biddeford will be dedicated Sept. 13 with Catholic Diocese of Portland Bishop Robert P. Deeley on hand to bless the new garden. ED PIERCE/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD  — Bishop Robert P. Deeley of the Diocese of Portland will be on hand to bless and dedicate the new St. André Health Care Memory Care Garden in Biddeford when it officially opens next month.

The 5,600-square-foot garden was created in back of the health care facility at 407 Pool St. in Biddeford, where there is now an outdoor patio. The area has been expanded and enclosed, so that it is safe for residents with memory loss. The public is invited to join residents, staff, board members, and supporters of St. André Health Care in Biddeford for a special dedication celebration with the bishop at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13, followed by a light lunch.

The new garden was also built on the same level as the facility, so that residents in wheelchairs would have easy access. Paths in the garden are wide to offer additional assistance to those in wheelchairs as previously, the patio was only accessible by a ramp.

In addition, a gazebo was built and raised garden beds were created and the garden is also expected to be used for physical exercise, therapies, and activities all in a safe and secure environment.

“The garden will be an essential part of the caregiving process that we provide all of our residents,” said Michael Morel, chair of St. André’s Board of Directors. “Studies have clearly verified the health and wellness benefits of natural environment, such as those experienced in a garden setting. The common goal of the garden is to make people safe and secure, less stressed, more comfortable, and even invigorated.”

St. André is a not-for-profit, 96-bed residence offering rehabilitation and skilled medical care, short-term respite care, long-term nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and palliative and hospice care. The Memory Care Unit at St. André is home to patients diagnosed with memory loss, specifically dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea, and our community is very supportive of it,” said Sister Terry Gauvin, provincial of the Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec. “With time, we’re getting to be more sensitive to those with memory loss, and this is going to be wonderful for them to be able to come outside.”

The Good Shepherd Sisters of Quebec founded St. André in 1940, originally as a home for unwed mothers. In the mid-1970s, it became a long-term care facility, and 16 years ago, Covenant Health took over operations. The sisters remain active at St. André through volunteering and financial support, including a substantial donation to help build the garden.

The ceremonial groundbreaking for the garden took place last September and now that the official opening is nearing, staff, patients and their families are excited about the possibilities that the new garden holds.

“It’s physical exercise. It’s rehabilitation. It’s relaxation. It’s enjoyment,” said Sister Patricia Sullivan, head of mission integration and spiritual care of the facility. “It can really improve a patient’s quality of life and provide the chance to walk without the risk of getting lost. These memory-enriching opportunities will help to strengthen St. André’s compassionate leadership in memory care throughout York County.”

To assist St. André with its mission, donations are accepted from individuals and corporations. To contribute or learn more about the facility, visit or call 282-5171.

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