New Fort Greene Park garden honors healthcare workers lost to pandemic

The new garden and bench inside Fort Greene Park pays tribute to Brooklyn Hospital workers lost to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center

A newly planted garden in Fort Greene Park honors the frontline workers of Brooklyn Hospital who lost their lives during New York City’s first coronavirus surge.

The garden, planted through a partnership with the nearby hospital, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and the Parks Department, features six freshly planted limber pine trees meant to represent each of the hospital workers who died during the pandemic’s first wave. Outside the new garden sits a bench with the names of the healthcare heroes engraved on a plaque.

“We wanted this memorial to be in Fort Greene Park, which is our next-door neighbor and which shares the same provenance as our hospital,” said Brooklyn Hospital Center President Gary Terrinoni. “When I visit this bench, I am reminded of the bond between the hospital and our incredible community, who held all healthcare workers in their hearts and lifted us up throughout this ordeal.”

The names of hospital employees who died are engraved on plaques.Photos by Kevin Duggan

The trees honoring Nanette Ham, Kelvin Taylor, David Wolin, Ed Becote, Rafael Cargill, and Louis Fontaine are planted near the southwest entrance to the park on Dekalb Avenue, overlooking the hospital grounds, and are expected to grow to be over 50 feet tall in maturity among other pines that have been there since the 1800s.

Brooklyn Hospital Center has been on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic since it reached the city in late spring, and was one of the first medical centers to implement a pre-screening unit outside the hospital to assess patients for possibly COVID symptoms.

Across the country, more than 1,700 healthcare workers are estimated to have died from the coronavirus. More than half a year since the outbreak of the virus in New York City, the country is headed towards what experts predict could be the “darkest days” of the pandemic, as the Five Boroughs stare down a “dangerously close” second wave.

As they forge ahead, Terrinoni said, the staff at Brooklyn Hospital will continue to honor those they’ve lost.

“We move forward with tears and memories, but also with a clearer sense of purpose and hope, while never forgetting those we lost,” he said.

Additional reporting by Kevin Duggan