Fitness Station Opens at UPMC Northwest

Kelly Smerker, pharmacy manager at UPMC Northwest, demonstrates how to access workout-related features using the QR code and free mobile app

The Northwest Hospital Foundation is pleased to announce the opening of a new outdoor fitness station at UPMC Northwest.  This exciting addition aims to promote health and wellness in the community, providing an inclusive space for teens and adults to engage in physical activity.  It also allows the public to take advantage of more workout options in addition to the existing walking trail.

Located conveniently behind the pavilion along the walking trail, the fitness station features ten units of state-of-the-art exercise equipment, three of which are wheelchair accessible.  Signs include a QR code for downloading a free app to access workout-related features showing how to use each exercise machine.  The app includes workout demos, help creating exercise routines and assists with logging progress.

The initiative reflects the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to fostering a healthier community by encouraging outdoor physical activity.

“We are excited to provide this new, free of charge resource for our community,” said Foundation Executive Director, Theresa Edder.  “The fitness station is designed to be inclusive and accessible, encouraging all community members to incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.”

The Foundation wishes to thank the Laura M. Smedley Trust, United Way of Venango County, UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Northwest, Dr. & Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, and the UPMC Northwest Medical Staff for their generous contributions.

For more information about the Northwest Hospital Foundation or to contribute to this project, please visit or contact Theresa Edder, Executive Director by calling 814-676-7145 or emailing

Stephanie Brackbill Gives Back

Stephanie Brackbill is there for people in their time of need. As the Palliative Nurse Navigator at UPMC Northwest, she cares for patients with chronic illness or terminal diagnoses. Her role is to bring these patients comfort by assisting with symptom management, advanced care planning, diagnosis support, and end-of-life care. Her job is deeply personal and impactful for patients and their families.

Photo courtesy Stephanie Brackbill

Working at UPMC Northwest, Stephanie experiences firsthand everything the Northwest Hospital Foundation does on behalf of patients. She is active in these efforts through her ongoing payroll donation to the Patient Hardship Fund. This fund helps underinsured or uninsured patients with expenses related to their care, such as durable medical equipment, prescriptions, clothing, and after-hours transportation.

Her contributions to the Patient Hardship Fund make a difference for those in difficult circumstances, sometimes even her own patients. In one case, one of her patients received a refurbished hospital bed so she could be discharged to hospice and spend precious time with her family at home. “You never know who might benefit from your donation – it could be a friend, neighbor, or family member you don’t even realize is struggling,” she said.

Another Foundation program Stephanie is passionate about is the Holiday Presents for Patients program which provides small gifts to inpatients at UPMC Northwest on holidays. She knows how difficult holidays are for patients who have no family or friends to visit them in the hospital. She said, “Something as small as bringing them a flower and wishing them a happy holiday can remind them that they are cared for and remembered in their time of crisis. They see that someone is thinking of them at a time when they are feeling lonely and isolated.”

As Stephanie grows her family here in our region, she plans to continue caring for her patients both as a UPMC Northwest employee and donor to the Northwest Hospital Foundation. “Giving back is something that’s very important to me. We have to work together to meet the healthcare needs of our community,” she said.

Donna Fletcher Turns Grief Into Action

Photo courtesy Donna Fletcher

When Ronald and Donna Fletcher tied the knot in 1997, they never expected their time together would be cut short by cancer. Ron and Donna’s love story began at Joy Manufacturing, where Ron, a skilled manufacturing engineer, and Donna, a dedicated professional in human resources, first crossed paths.

In the year of their 25th anniversary, Ron was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer which affected his head and neck. Despite fighting hard, Ron lost his battle in 2023 at the age of 80.

Donna now honors Ron’s memory by giving back to the hospital that cared for him. She wants to ensure other patients receive the same high standard of care and personal attention Ron did in his last months. “We were fortunate to have access to some of the best oncological care in the country right here in Venango County,” she said. “The staff at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC Northwest is unmatched. They made our experience very comfortable.”

Before Ron’s passing, they were both supporters of the Northwest Hospital Foundation. Donna now pays forward her gratitude and honors Ron’s life by giving to the Foundation in his memory. She said, “I give to make sure the things that were provided to him continue to be provided to others. It keeps his memory alive.”

She is particularly passionate about ensuring the latest technology is available for patients, whether that’s state-of-the-art surgical equipment or amenities like cooling caps which may help chemotherapy patients prevent hair loss. “We are lucky to have such talented medical practitioners here. It’s important to make sure they have access to the latest technology so they can put their skills to use treating patients,” she said.

These days Donna is turning her grief into action to help others. She serves on multiple boards, including the Foundation’s Corporation Board, in addition to being the Deputy Mayor of Franklin. She knows her efforts make a difference in the lives of so many in our community.

“When you give, you put good back into the world. Ron lives on through the good we do at the hospital.”

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