Creating havens of relaxation to advance wellness

September 22, 2020
5 min read


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. In place of visiting in person, consider taking a virtual tour of the Healing Garden by clicking here.

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 or call 814.234.6777.

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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.