Giving Stories

Giving Stories

Creating havens of relaxation

The hospital setting can be a place of uncertainty, fear, and sometimes sadness.

Creating havens of relaxation

The hospital setting can be a place of uncertainty, fear, and sometimes sadness. While we rejoice in the birth of a newborn baby, and celebrate the success of a loved one’s surgery, at times, we must make life-altering decisions and even say goodbye to those dearest to us. These moments filled with emotions of joy, sorrow, stress, and relief, create a need for spaces that offer relaxation and reflection. Mount Nittany Medical Center’s chapel and the H. Karl and F. Joan Spackman Barnett Healing Garden, spaces made possible through the generosity of donors, provide important respite areas.

The chapel, which opened in 2015, is designed so that anyone of any faith can feel comforted and connected. The hope is that this beautiful and quiet space meets the needs of many different people, including a welcoming place for patients, families, visitors, and staff.

Understanding that beauty can be soothing, Blake and Linda Gall, Kathy and Jerry Dittmann, and the late Barbara Palmer donated exquisite stained glass windows by artist David Lee Csicsko to decorate the sacred space. The stained glass windows feature birds, trees, water, and other natural elements, bringing nature inside, and giving the intimate space both a traditional and contemporary feel. It is a beautiful place to pray, meditate, or simply sit and quietly reflect. The chapel is located just inside the main entrance of the Medical Center next to the lobby, and it is open all day, every day.

The H. Karl and F. Joan Spackman Barnett Healing Garden – just outside of the chapel – is an acknowledgment that nature and green space are vital to health and wellness. Created in 2014, through the passion and dedication of Nancy and Richard Dixon with their gift to start the project, the space provides patients, visitors, and staff ample space to take a quiet moment to themselves.

The practice of introducing nature into healthcare settings has grown significantly in recent years. Research has demonstrated that therapeutic landscapes, such as the healing garden, have a profound impact on patients, their families, and healthcare workers. Patients exposed to such spaces experience less pain and stress, and their overall emotional states improve. This can result in shorter hospital stays and increased satisfaction for patients, families, and healthcare staff.

Donors from our generous community made the Healing Garden possible and are featured on leaf plaques throughout the garden. In return, we have welcomed our community members to visit, take a stroll, or find respite for both mental and physical wellness in one of the beautiful outdoor living rooms.

While visitor restrictions are currently in place at the Medical Center to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are grateful to have this sacred space available for all our patients, staff, and providers, especially during these difficult times.

It seems fitting that in a place that cares for people during each stage of life, in moments of joy and sorrow, there are places like the chapel and the Healing Garden where one can simply let go and feel at ease.

Mount Nittany Health Foundation donors make a difference. Our donors' generosity enables the growth of expertise, advances in lifesaving technology, program improvements, and facility upgrades that meet the unique needs of the communities we serve. Gifts directly support Mount Nittany Health's mission to make people healthier. To learn more about the Mount Nittany Health Foundation, visit foundation.mountnittany.org or call 814.234.6777

Walmart gift to support the Children's Advocacy Center

Recently, Walmart donated $1,000 to Mount Nittany Health Foundation to support the Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County, Mount Nittany Health.

Walmart gift to support the Children's Advocacy Center

Recently, Walmart donated $1,000 to Mount Nittany Health Foundation to support the Children's Advocacy Center of Centre County, Mount Nittany Health. "Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to strengthening the local communities we serve, in particular programs supporting children.  On behalf of the Benner Pike Walmart and associates, I'm so pleased to support the Center and its critical work to prevent, identify, and treat child abuse," shares Mike Meraglia, manager, Benner Pike Walmart.

Each year, the Center serves several hundred children and their families in the Centre and surrounding counties. A multidisciplinary team including child welfare caseworkers, police, prosecutors, medical and mental health professionals respond collectively to allegations of child sexual and physical abuse.

The main focus at the Center is the child's wellbeing. The team works together to make each child feel safe and secure and ensure that each child is given the opportunity to share his or her account of reported abuse, neglect, or other crimes he or she may have been victim or witness to.

"All services are provided free of charge to victims and their families—this is simply the right thing to do," states Simon Corby, executive director, Mount Nittany Health Foundation. " We are so grateful to Walmart and, indeed, all donors  to the Center for generously supporting this essential resource."

For more information about the Children's Advocacy Center, please mountnittany.org/childadvocacycenter. If you are inspired to make a gift, visit foundation.mountnittany.org.  

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."