Northwest Hospital Foundation Renovates Hospital Courtyard

The waiting room, by the very virtue of the name, has a negative connotation for many of us.  At UPMC Northwest, the courtyard is an alternative, offering a functional design with space for privacy and exposure to the outdoors.

For the healthcare professional feeling burned-out, and outdoor break can help mitigate emotional exhaustion and increase positive health benefits.

For 20 years, the courtyard area just off the cafeteria at UPMC Northwest has been an outdoor escape for visitors and healthcare professionals.   With lead gifts from the Dr. and Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, the Elisabeth S. Black Charitable Trust, and the UPMC Health Plan, the renovated courtyard officially opened on July 28.

“There are so many new features in the courtyard. Everywhere you look, there is something special,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the Northwest Hospital Foundation.

“Important to the healing process, the gentle sounds of waterfalls and outdoor lights create a welcoming environment during the warmer months,” Edder said. “Patients, visitors, and staff alike enjoy this area to grab lunch, reflect, read, visit, or just enjoy a little quiet time,” she said.   With new lighting and additional seating, the space is open around the clock for everyone to enjoy.

Twenty years of overgrown trees and landscaping coupled with deteriorating walkways and a leaking pond were the driving force behind the renovation.

“Without a doubt, this project has generated the most positive feedback from staff and visitors of any project throughout my tenure at UPMC Northwest.  At a time when staff were physically and mentally fatigued from the challenges of the pandemic, this beautiful space has provided comfort and peace to all that use it.  We truly appreciate this wonderful gift to our organization.” – Brian Durniok, President UPMC Northwest

Dick and Tish Way of Franklin donated the original courtyard setting, located just outside the hospital cafeteria. The original plaque from the Ways in the new courtyard reminds those who enter:

“In honor of the hospital staff and administration, and for the enjoyment of all who enter.  It is our hope that you will find peace in your day here in this garden.”

In 2002, Dick Way submitted the plans for the courtyard that, with his company GrowWay Inc., he completed with a pond, waterfall, and landscaping.

Kathy Way recalls how her father designed every area of the original courtyard, from the waterfall to the small pond and the surrounding flower beds.

“My dad had a giving heart, and so did my mom. My mom was a retired nurse. They just cared. They wanted to give back to the community, to the new facility, and to the people that took care of others. They gave with their heart, their time, and just shared with others,” Kathy Way said.

As long as he was able, Dick Way continued to check on the courtyard to ensure the plants were watered and cared for. Tish Way died in 2021.

The space might look different now, but the purpose remains the same.

See time-lapse video of courtyard construction at

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