As a physician, Eleanor Love has seen firsthand how drab (and sometimes downright depressing) hospitals can be. Instead of just feeling sorry for her patients, though, she decided to do something about their situation, and she created The Simple Sunflower.
The Simple Sunflower is a volunteer-run community organization that collects, repurposes, and delivers fresh flower bouquets to lonely hospital patients. The volunteers — a group of fellow students, university staff, and local florists — gather leftover flowers from weddings and other events and give them new life.
Before The Simple Sunflower was born, Love was working on her own as a medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) to make a difference in her patients’ lives.
She would show up at wedding venues after the event was over and ask the wedding coordinator if she could take the leftover flowers to distribute to her patients. Many of them said yes, happy to not have to simply throw the flowers (which are arguably one of the most expensive parts of a wedding) away.
Research shows that flowers can have a positive impact on patients’ health and recovery. Having them in the room can help to lower blood pressure, reduce pain, reduce stress, and speed up the healing process. Unfortunately, not all patients are receiving regular flower deliveries, though, which is where Love and her team come in.
In an interview with My Modern Met, Love said that The Simple Sunflower serves as a reminder of the “humanity in medicine.” She added that creativity is an “essential component” in science and medicine and said that fostering creativity helps to make her a better physician.
There are lots of ways for those who believe in The Simple Sunflower’s mission to support the organization. The Get Involved page of their website offers many suggestions, from donating money and time to contributing leftover flowers after an event.