TROY — The Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC) recognized retired nurse and long-time foundation board member Ruth Jenkins on Wednesday by surprising her with making her the namesake of UVMC’s Cardiac & Pulmomary Rehab Center.
The new center, which opened quietly due to COVID-19 in 2020 on the south side of the UVMC hospital, was named the Ruth Jenkins Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehab Center in a program on Nov. 17.
Jenkins, of Troy, was a founder of the CardioPulmonary Rehabilitation program at Troy’s Stouder Memorial Hospital in 1985. She worked as a nurse at Stouder beginning in 1956, assumed part-time roles while raising her three children, and later became the heart of the rehabilitation program.
When the name of the center was unveiled during an open house on Wednesday, Jenkins said she was “stunned.”
“I couldn’t have done any of this by myself,” Jenkins said.
Prior to the unveiling of the center’s name, Jenkins recounted the beginnings of the CardioPulmonary Rehabilitation program and how the program started in the basement of Stouder with two patients. When UVMC opened in 1998, they had between 80 and 100 patients in their department.
Over the years, it outgrew its space as the program and participation grew. Now, the Ruth Jenkins Cardiac & Pulmonary Rehab Center has its own entrance and building attached to the UVMC campus.
“This is a beautiful new facility,” Jenkins said. Jenkins commended the skilled and competent staff, as well as the equipped center. “It provides wonderful care to our whole area.”
Following retirement, Jenkins continued her pursuit of nursing as a part-time clinical instructor for the Upper Valley Career Center nursing program. Her nursing career spanned more than 50 years. Jenkins has also spent 20 years on the board of the UVMC Foundation.
“Ruth is known as someone who has lived a life of service to others, both through her career in nursing and many volunteer endeavors in the community,” said Kevin Harlan, UVMC president. “After founding our original cardiac rehab program, Ruth and her team of nurses, physicians, and clinicians, built it into the strong, life-changing program it remains today. We are all grateful to Ruth for her outstanding dedication to our cardiopulmonary rehab patients, our foundation, and our hospital.”
The new center was the first of a series of initiatives that were part of UVMC’s Patient Flow effort, which is now in its final stages.
The center, which more than doubled the program space, offers spacious and updated exercise facilities where patients with chronic cardiac and pulmonary conditions receive an individualized treatment plan. This plan is designed to help them regain strength, reduce the risk of future heart and lung problems, prevent their condition from worsening, and improve their quality of life. The UVMC Foundation paid for the new equipment and furnishings thanks to the support of many donors.
“I’m pleased that many in the community chose to support it,” said, Duanna Osting, UVMC Foundation president. “This life-changing program helps over 400 patients each year get back to a normal life. And I’m thrilled that we’re able to name the center in Ruth’s honor. Not only was Ruth a founder of the program, but she also helped with the fundraising for the project. Her passion and 50 years of service to Upper Valley Medical Center and 20 years of service to its foundation will forever be remembered.”
Jenkins also has been a public servant, for decades serving the community through organizations such as the Family Abuse Shelter, the Festival of Nations, and the Troy United Way, among many others. She also was Troy’s first lady for 12 years while her husband, the late Peter E. Jenkins, served as the city’s mayor.