For the Merkels, Giving is a Family Affair

Photo courtesy Sarah Merkel

For over a decade, Greg and Sarah Merkel have been proud to call Venango County their home. Greg, an attorney with Dale Woodard Gent McFate Law Firm, and Sarah, a senior associate with an environmental consulting firm, keep busy raising their three kids and renovating their Victorian home in Franklin. Despite their full schedules, the Merkels always find a way to give back to the community they love.

Greg and Sarah first learned of the Northwest Hospital Foundation when they were invited to join the Foundation’s Corporation Board in 2014. Through their involvement with the Board, they became aware of the many hospital projects and programs funded by the Foundation. In 2019, Greg succeeded Sarah’s father Robert McFate, Esq. as the Foundation’s solicitor.

The Merkels are proud to support the Northwest Hospital Foundation because they see how the organization helps UPMC Northwest go above and beyond in providing healthcare for the people of our region. They see the Foundation as an invaluable asset to the hospital as well as the community. “We are blessed to have a regional hospital which is supported by such a caring and committed foundation,” they said.

They are particularly passionate about relieving the financial burden of patients with medical debt. Each year, the Northwest Hospital Foundation distributes charitable funds from private donors to assist local patients in need with paying their outstanding medical bills. Just this year, over $289,000 has been distributed in uncompensated care assistance for patients at UPMC Northwest.

Greg and Sarah donate annually to this fund because they know how much this assistance helps individuals struggling to pay their bills. “It is something we believe in. We wouldn’t want people not to be able to access quality healthcare because they have medical debt,” Sarah said. “Receiving this assistance is life-changing for people,” Greg added.

The Merkels are committed to raising their family in this area. “The hospital is the cornerstone of our community, and we must do everything we can to make sure it continues to thrive and provide people here with the care they need. Supporting the Northwest Hospital Foundation is one way we help make sure our family, friends, and neighbors have access to quality healthcare for many years to come.”

Dr. McCandless Carries on Family Legacy of Care

Photo courtesy UPMC

For over a century, the McCandless family has provided medical care for the people of Venango County. Now retired, David McCandless, MD is continuing this legacy through his support for the Northwest Hospital Foundation.

He first became acquainted with the Northwest Hospital Foundation in the early 1980s when he began practicing internal medicine at Franklin Hospital. In 1992, Franklin Hospital and Oil City Hospital combined to form Northwest Regional Medical Center. The hospital merged with UPMC in 2001 to become UPMC Northwest. Dr. McCandless retired from UPMC-affiliated Franklin Community Medicine in December 2022 after 45 years of practice.

Throughout his career, Dr. McCandless provided compassionate, patient-centered care to countless people. He considers the Northwest Hospital Foundation a valued partner in this mission. “I personally identify with the importance of providing up-to-date, top-notch care for the community,” he said. “Having been a practitioner, I’ve been able to see the many resources the Foundation has provided to the hospital and how they are put to use to help patients in our area.”

Over the last three years, the Foundation has invested over $800,000 in technology and medical equipment for the hospital. “The Foundation is very thoughtful about providing the hospital what it needs, when it needs it,” said Dr. McCandless. “They make sure people are able to get the specialty care they need right here without having to travel long distances.”

Not only does high-tech equipment help with patient care, it also helps the hospital attract, recruit, and retain skilled physicians. “It is crucial that we continue to supply physicians with the tools they need to treat patients right here at UPMC Northwest, and the Foundation is a big part of that.”

Dr. McCandless has no plans of relocating from his Sugarcreek home. He loves being near his family and enjoys running into former patients, some of whom were treated by multiple generations of McCandless doctors. He is now honored to hold the distinguished position of “full-time grandpa” to his six grandchildren.

After all these years, Dr. McCandless remains committed to ensuring people in Venango County receive the care they need right here: a true legacy in action.

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