Giving Stories

Giving Stories

Burning Tee Golf League

Mount Nittany Health Foundation is proud to recognize the Burning Tee Golf League for their dedication and support of the annual Mou...

Burning Tee Golf League

Mount Nittany Health Foundation is proud to recognize the Burning Tee Golf League for their dedication and support of the annual Mount Nittany Health Golf Classic. This group of dedicated golfers – with a 9-hole and 18-hole division, and made up of more than 120 members with varying skill levels – can be found on the Penn State Golf Courses almost every Tuesday from April through October.

In 2007, Don Hastings, one of the Burning Tee Golf League members, joined the Golf Classic committee. The very next year he launched a league fundraiser for the event. The “Birdie Bucks Challenge” invites each member to donate $1 every time they score a birdie during the season. For those not familiar with golf terminology, a birdie is scoring one-stroke-under-par.

“In 2008, I decided that I would pledge $1 for every birdie that I made and shared the idea to the league members that year. Anybody who wanted to participate could sign up for any amount they wanted to pledge. I was hoping that we could possibly raise $500 or so to give to the hospital at their annual fundraising golf tournament that fall. We ended up raising $3,100 that year! When I reported our success to the league members, they all wanted to continue the Birdie Bucks Challenge in the following years. Thus, the Birdie Bucks was born,” shared Hastings.

Each year the league’s generous donations continued to rise. This year the league had to cancel their season due to the pandemic, but that didn’t stop our friends from wanting to donate. In fact, this year they donated an astounding $25,220. The 2020 Mount Nittany Health Golf Classic proceeds are designated to the Mount Nittany Health COVID-19 Response Fund and other Mount Nittany Health departments. The COVID-19 Response Fund will be used for patient care, including testing, medication, medical supplies and staff support.

Since the challenge began, the league has raised an impressive $106,400. This year, to honor Hastings and the Burning Tee Golf League’s ongoing support, Tom Frank, a fellow league member, presented Hastings with an engraved plaque on behalf of Mount Nittany Health Foundation, congratulating him on the success of the program.

“I am so proud that we all were able to make this program the success that it is. I want to thank all of our members for generously and enthusiastically supporting the idea from the very beginning,” shared Hastings. “Serving as president of the Burning Tee Golf League for 20 years and on the Mount Nittany Health Golf Classic committee for over 10 years, and being able to raise money with our Birdie Bucks program has been one of the highlights of my life. It has been an honor and a joy working with so many great people.”

“We are incredibly grateful to the Burning Tee Golf League for their remarkable donations and ongoing support of our community,” states Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation. “We are proud to call this team of golfers our friends and supporters.”

MilliporeSigma donates face masks

Mount Nittany Health remains firmly committed to the health and wellbeing of our patients, our staff, and the community, while simul...

MilliporeSigma donates face masks

Mount Nittany Health remains firmly committed to the health and wellbeing of our patients, our staff, and the community, while simul...

TZero's ingenuity creates more masks for Mount Nittany Health

Brothers Stephen and Nick Wells and their partner Eli Hughes are the founders of TZero, a sensor technology and data company with a focus on microbrewing. TZero has a national presence, but as luck would have it, is a locally owned business committed to serving its community

TZero's ingenuity creates more masks for Mount Nittany Health

Brothers Stephen and Nick Wells and their partner Eli Hughes are the founders of TZero, a sensor technology and data company with a focus on microbrewing. TZero has a national presence, but as luck would have it, is a locally owned business committed to serving its community.

When the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, these tech gurus wanted to help but weren't sure how their skills could best serve any current need. "We live by a motto at TZero that we learned from our business partner and investor, which is to take care of the people that take care of the company. We believe this extends beyond the walls of our office to our community," shares Nick Wells, TZero co-founder.

Nick watched a video of a World Health Organization (WHO) doctor discussing personal protective equipment (PPE) and the spread of the virus. The doctor explained how surgical masks are worn to protect healthcare workers by creating a physical barrier around the mouth and nose. Surgical masks are fluid resistant and provide the wearer protection against large droplets, splashes or splatter that could contain the novel coronavirus, and are typically multi-layered with non-woven materials. Inner layers are made of materials to filter out particles. The filtration level of a mask depends on the strength and bulk of the fiber.

As he continued to watch the WHO video, Nick suddenly realized that the mask structure and material resembled the way spill mats operate in breweries. Spill mats are constructed of highly durable, highly absorbent fine-fiber material and would, Nick thought, make an above-average replacement for non-woven materials used in surgical masks. The TZero crew could make things expertly and quickly with access to laser cutters and 3-D printers.

"If we have the resources and the abilities, we should help our community as much as possible, especially during these extremely uncertain times," shares Nick. He and his fellow co-founders believed they could manufacture surgical masks with the spill mats the company had on hand. The TZero founders knew they could produce high-quality surgical masks that, while not FDA approved, would provide better protection than cloth masks. Through their manufacturing, the company could help bridge the gap for needed PPE while supply chains and manufacturers ramped up to meet the demand caused by the pandemic.

Within hours of watching the WHO video, TZero had produced a prototype surgical mask made from spill mats. Once the prototype was finalized, TZero, along with the help from some close friends, was able to manufacture 1,200 masks in a matter of days. The majority were donated to Mount Nittany Health, extending our PPE supplies. The TZero crew also gave masks to first responders and to friends and family members who are at higher risk of infection due to underlying health conditions.

"The outpouring of support from our community is deeply appreciated by our frontline staff. We are incredibly grateful to TZero for their ingenuity, generosity and rapid response to provide Mount Nittany Health with PPE,” states Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation.

Local couple generously donates stimulus check to Mount Nittany Health COVID-19 Response Fund

During these times of social distancing, monetary support is one form of giving back that is still available. A local couple, who wish to remain anonymous, shared how challenging it is to be at home unable to volunteer as they usually would.

Local couple generously donates stimulus check to Mount Nittany Health COVID-19 Response Fund

During these times of social distancing, monetary support is one form of giving back that is still available. A local couple, who wish to remain anonymous, shared how challenging it is to be at home unable to volunteer as they usually would. “We like to give our time and we can’t give our time right now,” they said. Instead, they chose to support the health system by making a gift to the Mount Nittany Health COVID-19 Response Fund.

Soon after the couple first read about the fund, they received their stimulus check. “There was so much stress on staff, equipment, and everything we figured we’d pass it on,” they shared. The fund is used to promote the health system’s fight against COVID-19 by supporting patient care, including testing, medication, medical supplies, and staff support. It enables our clinical staff to sustain their resilience while continuing to provide safe, high-quality care to our patients and community.

“We are immensely grateful to donors like this local couple for their gift to our COVID-19 Response Fund,” states Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation. “Gifts such as this allow Mount Nittany Health to be flexible in our response to this pandemic by supporting our patients and staff wherever the need is greatest and to be well-equipped in our fight against COVID-19.” The continued generosity from our community is heartwarming and uplifting and provides us both the strength and the resources to successfully respond to this pandemic.

Dunkin’ of State College salutes Mount Nittany Health heroes

Every day, Mount Nittany Health staff serve our patients and our community to make people healthier. When the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, staff continued their vital work providing for the care and safety of our patients in swiftly changing circumstances.

Dunkin’ of State College salutes Mount Nittany Health heroes

Every day, Mount Nittany Health staff serve our patients and our community to make people healthier. When the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced, staff continued their vital work providing for the care and safety of our patients in swiftly changing circumstances. Not surprisingly, this has not gone unnoticed by a grateful community. Dunkin’ of State College and their local franchisees, donated gift cards, to honor and salute our healthcare workers and essential employees.

"On behalf of everyone at Dunkin’, we want to send a heartfelt thank you to the heroes across America who are tirelessly protecting our communities – the doctors, nurses, first responders and everyone on the front lines of this crisis,” said Eric May, Dunkin' Franchisee. “As local business owners who live and work in the communities they serve, our franchisees are committed to supporting those keeping our country running during this crisis, and we are proud to have the opportunity to give back.”

“Dunkin's, gesture of appreciation will be sure to boost the spirits – and the energy – of our staff” shares Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation. “We are profoundly grateful for these meaningful gestures of kindness and generosity for our staff.”

Good neighbors and a shared community

Mount Nittany Health is working tirelessly to ensure that patients and staff are safe and cared for while we simultaneously anticipate and prepare for what’s next.

Good neighbors and a shared community

Mount Nittany Health is working tirelessly to ensure that patients and staff are safe and cared for while we simultaneously anticipate and prepare for what’s next. As we continue to mobilize in response to changing events on the ground, we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from our community—especially the generosity of our Penn State neighbors.

It was no surprise when the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) contacted Mount Nittany Health wanting to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. Further, the group understood that masks, gloves and other critical personal protective equipment is and will continue to be in high demand in any healthcare setting.

OVPR had an answer to this challenge, donate the unused personal protective equipment from across various research units and departments. “When we reduced our on-campus research activities, we included a request for our laboratories to conduct an inventory of their PPEs. The response that we received was overwhelming,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research for Penn State. OVPR’s campus-wide collection led to the generous donation of lab-grade gloves, masks and booties to give to Mount Nittany Health and our frontline health care workers.

“We are proud to play a part in supporting the courageous and committed medical professionals who are serving our faculty, staff, students and so many of our friends and neighbors,” shares Penn State President Eric Barron. “This is one way we can demonstrate that we truly are one community, and we are in this together.”

“We are truly grateful for the continued support of the entire community and to Penn State for this extraordinary gift. These certainly are unprecedented times, and we are rising together to meet the challenges we’re facing. This generous donation will supplement and extend our supplies, helping to support our top priority of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff, patients and visitors,” states Kathleen Rhine, president and CEO, Mount Nittany Health.

 

 

 

Penn State ARL engineers partner with Mount Nittany Health surgeon to rapidly design PPE

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State formed the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19 (MASC) Initiative, “focused on designing and delivering rapidly scalable solutions and generating tangible impact,” especially within Pennsylvania.

Penn State ARL engineers partner with Mount Nittany Health surgeon to rapidly design PPE

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn State formed the Manufacturing and Sterilization for COVID-19 (MASC) Initiative, “focused on designing and delivering rapidly scalable solutions and generating tangible impact,” especially within Pennsylvania. Penn State’s Applied Research Lab (ARL), reached out to the MASC Initiative with an offer to help.

Tim Simpson of MASC asked Charlie Tricou, the Head of ARL’s Lifecycle Engineering Department, to develop a 3-D printed face shield to address potential need, and to buy time for local manufacturers to design, tool-up, and produce enough face shields to meet a possible surge. Mount Nittany Health, especially Upendra Thaker, MD, associate chief medical officer for the system and clinical officer, surgical and specialty services, Mount Nittany Physician Group quickly became a partner in the design. Charlie felt a palpable sense of urgency, that first week or two of the pandemic.  “In the back of your mind you’re thinking, every day people who need this don’t have it, lives are impacted,” shared Charlie.

Face shields provide a physical barrier to droplets caused by coughing or sneezing and are an important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for infection prevention. They consist of a headband that wraps around the forehead, an attached, clear plastic visor that covers the face, and an elastic band that goes around the back of the head, keeping the device in place.

ARL and Penn State have many 3-D printers that could be used to print the headbands, as do many other universities, businesses, and hobbyists. ARL wanted a face shield design that, given a 3-D printed headband, almost anybody could complete. Prusa Printers had recently released a 3-D printed face shield design for small build-plates, which ARL used as a starting point. The original headband had four pins across the forehead, to which a polycarbonate shield attached via four oval-shaped holes.

The basic Prusa design was serviceable, but it took nearly 3 hours to print the headband and because of the oval-shaped holes, the polycarbonate shield needed to be cut with a CNC machine or laser-cutter. “Two days after the Prusa design was released, thin polycarbonate started to disappear,” shared Charlie.

ARL redesigned the way the visor attached to the headband to be compatible with other materials and to utilize three round pins and holes to connect, spacing them so that a 3-hole punch could be used to create the holes and eliminate the need for a CNC machine or laser cutter. Binder covers or clear acetate transparencies could be used for the visor and could easily be sourced. This would keep the product low-cost and accessible.

In about 4 days (many of which were 16-17 hours long, as they were working on other PPE projects during that time as well), the team had a design they were happy with.

ARL’s website homepage states that it must maintain, “an operational agility to meet ever-changing requirements.” Charlie attested that this type of ingenuity is pretty much business as usual for his team. “Though the urgency for sure is different,” he added. Normally, his team contracts for research and development projects that span 1-2 years, not a couple of days. And the department has not worked with the healthcare industry before; they mostly design equipment and processes for shipyards and maintenance depots.

Charlie had been in contact with Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation, who agreed to pick up some samples. “I walked him through it standing six feet apart outside in a parking lot with a cross breeze,” Charlie said chuckling. Dr. Thaker then reviewed the samples and worked with the ARL team to make a couple of tweaks.

Dr. Thaker asked ARL to eliminate the nooks and crannies in the headband design, which could be harder to clean and house coronavirus. Joe Bartolai and Daniel Spillane of ARL modified the basic Prusa design, eliminating these spaces and reducing print speed by about 45 minutes.  Nate Siegel of Bucknell University did the same for a larger version of the headband. 

“Charlie and his team provided several prototypes for our input and ultimately provided Mount Nittany with components needed to make face shields,” Dr. Thaker shared. “Their concern for the community and healthcare providers was clearly evident. It is heartwarming to know that we live and work in a community where we have such overwhelming support and commitment for the healthcare providers.”

Charlie reiterated that sentiment, pointing out there are numerous other stories throughout our community of people who leveraged their available talent and resources to help through, what he calls, “small acts of heroism.”

So far the Lifecycle Engineering Department at Penn State’s ARL has donated 350 headbands, 250 to Mount Nittany Health and another 100 to a nursing home. The team also has publically shared the template so that anyone with a 3-D printer can produce the headband and anyone with access to binder covers or acetate transparencies, a three-hole punch, and elastic or rubber bands can complete the face shield.

And that’s what Charlie seems to be most proud of: the accessibility and empowerment. For instance, the nursing home director had serious concerns about how they would protect their staff and patients. Charlie immediately agreed to print headbands, and also suggested she send a company-wide email asking if anybody associated with her organization had, or knew someone who had, a 3-D printer. He recommended she buy binder covers and sewing elastic or rubber bands. He quickly explained how she could easily, swiftly, and inexpensively pull together the resources to provide an essential piece of PPE.

“This goes beyond me being able to print something. I enabled her. I gave her the tools to help herself. And that was incredible,” Charlie said. His team has not only empowered people with the wherewithal to protect their patients and employees, but in doing so, they are providing some sense of control during this unprecedented, often turbulent, and stressful time.

“We at Mount Nittany Health are so grateful to Charlie and the rest of the team within the Lifecycle Engineering Department at ARL,” stated Simon. “The team’s quick ingenuity, altruism, and desire to both empower and equip our organization to protect and support our frontline staff in the fight against COVID-19 is so deeply appreciated.”

Hearts That Inspire - Hometown Heart: Building on a Legacy

Joan Brower moved to State College in 1944. Her parents were longtime supporters of the local hospital from it's inception.

Hearts That Inspire - Hometown Heart: Building on a Legacy

Joan Brower moved to State College in 1944. Her parents were longtime supporters of the local hospital from it's inception. When Vera Hawbaker passed away in 2010, Joan and her brother, Samuel, designated their parents' estate gift to the east wing expansion of Mount Nittany Medical Center and named a new intensive care room in their honor.

Joan's parents taught them so much in their life, respectively. They both set good examples along the way. The example they taught through their generosity is most important to the whole family.

Joan and late husband, Ralph Brower, were also great supporters of the Medical Center. Joan was a longtime hospital auxiliary volunteer, and Ralph served on the Mount Nittany Health Golf Classic Committee since it's inception. The Browers also gifted monies to the Lance and Ellen Shaner Cancer Pavilion.

With Joan's most recent gift to the new cardiovascular pavilion at the Medical Center, she says, "I am truly blessed with great health. Having been surrounded by family and loved ones with health issues all of my life, I've become an advocate for quality healthcare in our community. This pavilion is a huge step in continuing to provide that for our region, and I'm proud to be a part of that.

Life-Saving Medicine within Reach

Twenty-five miles west of State College, on a dairy farm in rural Belleville, Andy Charney says it's simple: He and his wife Marilyn chose to donate to Mount Nittany Medical Center's new cardiovascular pavilion for one reason.

Life-Saving Medicine within Reach

Twenty-five miles west of State College, on a dairy farm in rural Belleville, Andy Charney says it's simple: He and his wife Marilyn chose to donate to Mount Nittany Medical Center's new cardiovascular pavilion for one reason.

"My vision for the future of our region is that, no matter the health concern, no one will have to travel for quality care," he says. "This pavilion is certainly a good start."

The founder of Scientific Systems, Inc., a leading company in liquid chromatography sciences, Andy grew the business from little more than a dream to the industry leader that it is today, 51 years later. The State College area native worked hard on that dream.

"What I learned in my 50 years of business is that money or things don't build anything," shares Andy. "People build it."

Several years ago, when Andy was diagnosed with bladder cancer that required surgery, he was sent to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the center of Baltimore, where he was under care for some time. During the stay, his family lived nearby in the city, which he and Marilyn agree was not ideal.

"Our area has everything a person could want for themselves and their family. Over the years, I've recruited folks from as far away as California," says Andy. "If you ask me, this environment is ideal; there's no reason anyone shold have to leave the comfort of their home here for anything."

Charlie and Karol Pitts

Charlie Pitts could think of no better way to honor the memory of his wife than by giving a gift to the place that meant so much to her in life. For 30 years, Karol Pitts served as a valued volunteer in the Mount Nittany Medical Center Emergency Department.

Charlie and Karol Pitts

Charlie Pitts could think of no better way to honor the memory of his wife than by giving a gift to the place that meant so much to her in life. For 30 years, Karol Pitts served as a valued volunteer in the Mount Nittany Medical Center Emergency Department.

When the Pitts and their four children — Tim, Kelley, Kerrie andKim — moved to State College in 1978, it was for Charlie’s new position as the head of Penn State’s entomology department. The following year, looking for work of her own, Karol took a full-time job as a switchboard operator at the Medical Center, then known as Centre Community Hospital. It was also during that time that Karol began volunteering in the emergency room at the hospital. Always one to help others, she quickly fell in love with the hustle and bustle of the ER and found a place where she felt she could make a difference. Whether answering phones, escorting patients to an examination area or consoling an anxious child, Karol was soon considered an integral part of the department, even attending staff birthday and holiday parties.

“Karol was absolutely one of the best ED volunteers that we have ever had. What a sweet, funny, strong, smiling and energetic person,” shares Theodore Ziff, MD, FACEP, medical director of emergency services, emergency department, Mount Nittany Medical Center. “It was always a pleasure to have her in our ED. We miss her.”

In 1988, when Charlie stepped down as department head, he and Karol moved to Africa for a period of three years. Charlie recalls what an amazing experience the trip was, reminiscing about the locals and the delectable foods that were part of their adventure. Still, the Pitts considered State College their home and cheerfully returned there in 1991, and Charlie continued working for the university. Ready to get back to volunteering, Karol picked up where she left off in the emergency department. That same year, she heard about the new Mount Nittany Medical Center Golf Classic and cheerfully lent her talents to the fundraiser as its first volunteer coordinator, a post she held for nearly a decade, in addition to serving on the planning committee for the event. Over the years, she and Charlie both volunteered at the Golf Classic, as did Kelley, Kerrie and Kim.

In more recent years, both Charlie and Karol were instrumental in spearheading the fundraising initiative for the Volunteer Scholarship Award for Mount NittanyHealth, a project that Charlie is currently involved in with Mount Nittany Health Foundation, as they work to have the scholarship endowed. Each year, the health system’s Volunteer Recognition Luncheon honors one graduating high school student who has completed a minimum of 200 hours of distinguished volunteer service with Mount Nittany Health and plans to pursue a career in healthcare from an accredited institution.

In January 2016, Karol Pitts passed away at the Medical Center. Shortly after her death, Charlie proposed naming a room in the emergency department in Karol’s memory. With coordination help from the Foundation, Charlie gave a generous gift to name the B1 trauma room in the emergency department after his beloved wife.

“The Medical Center was Karol’s true passion,” said Charlie. “We both reveled in watching it grow from a tiny community hospital to the impressive health system that it is today.” Indeed, the Pitts witnessed major construction projects, including the 1989 expansion of the emergency room to the emergency department and its additional expansions and renovations in 1993 and 2013.

In February, around 10 of Karol’s friends and family — including Charlie and his children — gathered at the emergency department to dedicate the room and pay homage to the remarkable woman who gave more than 30 years and 10,000 hours of volunteer time to an organization that will long appreciate her contributions. Now, a special place in her beloved emergency department bears her name.

The community lost a good friend in Charlie Pitts in 2019 and are grateful for the inspiring gift he made to Mount Nittany Health in honor of his wife, Karol.