Memorial Hospital braces for a sorrowful loss.

The great, blooming magnolia tree that has long shaded and graced the driveway island at the entrance to the ever-changing Santa Rosa medical center will be cut down later this month.

For years, the broad, approximately 40-foot tree was illuminated each holiday season for a hospice ceremony memorializing loved ones who’ve passed on. The magnolia has long shared the island in the turn-around drive with a statue of the Healing Christ.

Memorial officials reluctantly concluded the tree must be removed because the circular driveway must be widened now that drivers pull up into it to deliver or pick up patients at the doors of both the main hospital building and the newly expanded and modernized Emergency Department.

The entrance-drive roadway widening project will cut into the island, and arborists have found that the magnolia and its root system already are squeezed into it. A tree consultant looked at whether the tree could be moved and concluded that though it is “relatively healthy” it likely would not survive being transplanted elsewhere on the Montgomery Drive property.

So it is set to be felled on Aug. 22. A gathering there beside the driveway island at 4 p.m. the previous day will give Memorial staffers, doctors and volunteers a chance to reflect on all that the presence of the magnolia contributed to the hospital through the decades that it grew and bloomed and cast a cooling shadow there at the front door.

The construction plans call for another large magnolia to be placed nearby. The Healing Christ statue will stay where it is.