Garden of Reflection Dedicated for Inpatient Behavioral Health Patients at Monmouth Medical Center

Gloria Nilson Garden of Reflection at MMC ribbon cutting

Gathering to cut the ceremonial ribbon dedicating the Gloria Nilson Garden of Reflection at MMC are, from left, Stan Evanowski, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health Services; Gloria Nilson; Fireflies Council Chair Carolyn Deforte, DMD; MMC and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Region President and CEO Eric Carney; MMC Foundation Board of Trustees Chair Claire Knopf, and Caitlin Olson, Regional Vice President of Development.

Long Branch, NJ, October 15, 2021 – The Monmouth Medical Center Foundation held a ribbon-cutting dedication ceremony on October 8 to dedicate the Gloria Nilson Garden of Reflection in a secure courtyard adjacent to the hospital’s inpatient behavioral health units.

“We are pleased to officially open and celebrate the Gloria Nilson Garden of Reflection for use by patients at our inpatient behavioral health facility,” said Eric Carney, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC). “As we have learned during this pandemic, taking care of our mental health is more important than ever, with so many people struggling during these uncertain times. The vision for this new space was to create an inviting outdoor area for patients to get a breath of fresh air, in a reflective environment that encourages healing.”

MMC is the largest provider of mental health services in Monmouth County with a total of 63 psychiatric beds and psychiatric emergency screening services. Noting that the garden was previously not a welcoming space for these patients, he said it was revitalized and refreshed with the help of the Fireflies Council — an MMC Foundation group dedicating to raising funds for behavioral health services and spreading awareness for mental health wellness — and longtime MMC philanthropist Gloria Nilson and other generous donors.

“For our behavioral health patients, this area represents a space that will give them a break from the hospital setting while receiving treatment here,” said Stan Evanowski, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health Services at MMC. “Part of our patient-centered approach in caring for individuals will be to provide them with quality time in this beautiful outdoor space to help them feel better. Research shows that patients respond positively to nature, plants, and to participating in the tasks of tending to a garden.”

Chair of the Fireflies Council Carolyn Deforte, D.M.D., who introduced herself as a strong advocate of breaking the stigma that surrounds mental health, noted that when the Fireflies Council for Behavioral Health was created in 2018, it had two goals. “We wanted to break the stigma and educate our community, which we continue to do each day, and we also wanted our friends, family and community members who need world-class treatment for mental health at MMC, to feel they were coming to a welcome and inviting space,” she said. “I am so excited for the opening of this garden, because it represents so much, and encourages healing, for the many people who come here to receive the best treatment in mental health in Monmouth County.”

The focal point of the garden is the beautiful Esther and Bill Schulder and Family Gazebo, providing ample seating with protection from the elements to sit in quiet reflection. It also features raised garden beds and a recreation court with a basketball hoop. Exterior brick-faced walls are now decorated with dedication and inspirational tiles, including one that shares, “It’s never too late to start the day over.”

Caitlin Olson, Regional VP of Development for MMC and MMCS, concluded the ceremony by thanking Dr. Deforte for her leadership and dedication to mental health, noting “it is because of this that we are today surrounded by so much beauty, hope and inspiration.”

“Thank you to everyone who helped to make a difference,” she added. “A special thank you to Gloria Nilson for naming this incredible space, and to the Schulder family for naming our gazebo. And thank you to the many donors who made this possible.”

To learn more about the Fireflies Council or other giving opportunities at MMC, visit

About Monmouth Medical Center
Monmouth Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health (RWJBH) facility, along with The Unterberg Children’s Hospital, is a regional teaching campus for Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. As the first hospital in Monmouth and Ocean counties, Monmouth Medical Center offers the most experienced surgeons in robotics and other minimally invasive procedures as well as bariatric and joint and spine surgery. Monmouth Medical Center delivers more babies annually than all other hospitals in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined and the fourth most in the state. The hospital offers access to the region’s top cardiologists and the award-winning, nationally recognized RWJBarnabas Heart Centers. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) has conferred Magnet® recognition for Monmouth Medical Center, one of just 509 U.S. health care organizations out of more than 6,300 U.S. hospitals to achieve Magnet recognition. It is the only hospital in Monmouth and Ocean counties to consistently receive an “A” Hospital Safety Score by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit organization. RWJBarnabas Health and Monmouth Medical Center, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer
Institute of New Jersey — the state's only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center — brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside patients, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials.

CONTACT: Kathy Horan
(732) 923-6632