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Grateful Patient gift brings comfort to others


Jim and Linda Gardner stand with one of the reclining chairs they donated to the Medical Center as part of the Mount Nittany Health Foundation's Grateful Patient Program.

Late in 2015, area resident and annual Mount Nittany Health Foundation supporter, Linda Gardner, was hospitalized twice. During that time, both she and her husband, Jim, learned firsthand the value of comfortable reclining chairs for patients and their family members.

Admitted to Mount Nittany Medical Center for chronic neck and back pain in September, Linda visited Mount Nittany Medical Center’s emergency department in December and was sent to the cardiac catheterization lab for an angiogram. The next day, Linda was transported to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center for an open-heart double bypass procedure.

Home and well recovered from her bypass surgery, Linda remembers how much she loved a recliner at the Medical Center, with its ideal height, straight back and superior neck and arm support.

Returning the favor

Early last year, the medical/oncology department at Mount Nittany Medical Center recognized a need for additional chairs on their unit for patients and family members during treatment stays. Rich Rickley, RN, MSN, director, medical/oncology, Mount Nittany Medical Center, approached Foundation executive director, Matt Hardy, asking if there might be available funding to cover them.

Through the Foundation’s Grateful Patient Program, which allows individuals to give back to Mount Nittany Health in gratitude for receiving outstanding care for themselves or their loved ones, Hardy connected Rickley and the Gardners. Without hesitation, Jim and Linda agreed and put things into motion, coordinating a personal charitable donation and a Pfizer Foundation Matching Gift, courtesy of Jim’s former corporate employer.

“From personal experience, we know that the Medical Center is dedicated to serving patients and the family members who accompany them,” says Linda. “We saw this recliner chair project as a unique way to support that important mission."

“The gift that Linda and Jim gave is so meaningful because it helps support members of the community who may be experiencing similar circumstances,” says Rickley. “By giving back to our healthcare system, they acknowledge our continued support of not only their health care needs, but of individual members of our staff for their remarkable compassion and support.”

The Foundation’s Grateful Patient Program is designed to offer patients, as well as their friends and families, a way to say thank you while also making a difference for other patients. There are many ways that members of the Mount Nittany Health team make a difference in the lives of our patients, and this program allows individuals and/or their families to formally recognize the exceptional care they have received. Whether one chooses to honor a doctor or nurse, an entire department or a clinical program that provided care to a loved one, donations are a meaningful way to acknowledge those who may have brought comfort in a time of need.

Contributions will directly help maintain the level of care that the residents of central PA have come to expect from Mount Nittany Health. Gifts can be designated to a specific area or to the greatest need. Donors can also choose to make a contribution through other charitable means, such as gifts of stock, contributions from their IRA or a planned gift or bequest. Gifts may also acknowledge a caregiver at Mount Nittany Health — anyone who has made a special impression.

Jim shares, “Since retiring here a decade ago, both of us have benefited from the Medical Center’s outstanding services. This contribution gives us a way to say 'thank you' to those Medical Center individuals who have been of special help during the past year."

As such, the Gardners designated this particular gift in honor of Albert Zoda, MD, cardiology, Mount Nittany Physician Group, and the entire cardiology team; Jill Byers, patient access associate, Mount Nittany Medical Center; Patty Taylor, pharmacy, Mount Nittany Medical Center; and all of the IV and MTU nurses at the Medical Center.  

“Linda and Jim’s gift means so much to every patient and family member, and even to our staff who try their best to make difficult situations the most comfortable and least stressful as possible,” says Rickley. “These recliners give our patients and their family members another opportunity to find a bit of rest during long, stressful treatments or when lying in bed is more painful than sitting upright in a chair. We cannot thank them enough.”

To learn more about Mount Nittany Health Foundation, visit

To participate in the Grateful Patient Program, visit or call the Foundation office at 814.234.6777.

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