Juliet Hilburn joined the Northwest Hospital Foundation in January 2023 as the Annual Giving Officer and is responsible for coordinating annual giving programs within the Northwest Hospital Foundation, as well as all direct mail appeals, email, and social media development programs. She also assists in supporting donor relations and outreach efforts relating to fundraising.

Juliet comes to the Northwest Hospital Foundation from Allegheny Realty Settlement, an affiliate of Shafer Law Firm, where she served as a Licensed Title Agent and Communications Coordinator in the firm’s Titusville office. She previously served as a Student Success Specialist for the Northern Pennsylvania Regional College and Analyst-Educator for the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry & Tourism. Juliet holds an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Arkansas State University and a B.A. in History from Mercyhurst University. She resides in her hometown of Titusville, PA with her family. She volunteers as a board member with Titusville Renaissance, Inc. and is a member of FLEX Young Professionals.

She can be reached at hilburnjj@upmc.edu or (814)676-7920.

Christmas Magic is in the Air at UPMC Northwest

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The holiday season is going to be just a little bit brighter this year — perhaps a lot brighter, actually — at UPMC Northwest, thanks to the glow of 24 donated red and green LED Christmas trees.

Each tree is placed in a special location for optimum viewing to help brighten Christmas for patients, staff, and visitors. Beginning in 2020, the first trees appeared –  a gift from a local couple who wishes to remain anonymous. Each year since, the couple has donated additional trees.

“These spectacular trees are beautiful and are greatly appreciated by our patients, visitors, and staff.  I have heard from staff and patients that the presence of the trees are providing them with peace and comfort during the holiday season.  On behalf of the employees and medical staff of UPMC Northwest, I would like to thank the Northwest Hospital Foundation and the donors who have made our campus so festive and special.”

 – Brian Durniok, President, UPMC Northwest

A drone video on the Northwest Hospital Foundation website proves Christmas magic is in the air. The brilliance of the 20-foot-tall trees, each topped with a blazing star, is captured in the short video.

To learn about giving opportunities, contact Theresa Edder, Northwest Hospital Foundation Executive Director.  NorthwestHospitalFoundation.org

Northwest Hospital Foundation Renovates Hospital Courtyard

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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 northwesthospitalfoundation.org



UPMC Northwest patient Gloria Hoover, of Franklin, receives flowers from Theresa Edder, executive director of the Northwest Hospital Foundation on Easter Sunday.  Hoover was one of many patients to whom the Foundation delivered flowers to help make their holiday brighter.  The Foundation works to secure and allocate resources for funding projects exclusively in support of UPMC Northwest.


The Northwest Hospital Foundation and the United Way of Venango County have partnered to ensure all babies born at UPMC Northwest have the opportunity to register for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library if they live in Venango, Clarion, and Forest counties. Every baby will receive Dolly Parton’s first Imagination Library book, The Little Engine That Could.

Babies and children who are enrolled in the Imagination Library program from eligible counties receive one new book in the mail each month from birth until their fifth birthday.  The program helps families create a personal library of up to 60 books at no cost to them, with a goal of establishing a child’s early reading experience and habits.

The first family to receive the book and be registered at UPMC Northwest was baby Joyce, daughter of Devon Johnson and Rachel Wagonseller of Cooperstown, Venango County.  She was the first baby born at UPMC Northwest in 2022 at 2:35am on New Year’s Day.

Nurses in the Family Birthing Center at UPMC Northwest educate parents of eligible children about the program and assist with the brief registration form.  Approximately 600 babies are born annually at Northwest.

Books are selected by a national panel of early childhood literacy experts who review hundreds of children’s books each year and choose those that best fit the needs of children as they learn and grow.

“This kind of partnership, especially now, is much needed to be able to continue offering this program in Venango County. United Way is committed to helping children in our community to be successful in school and life. This program guarantees access to books and inspires parents to read to their children. As little as fifteen minutes a day has a giant impact on a child,” said Will Price, Executive Director, United Way of Venango County.



Ivy Kuberry, Environmental Education Specialist from Oil Creek State Park, shows off a piece of gill-over-the-ground ivy during a one-mile nature walk that was hosted by the Northwest Hospital Foundation.   The walk was held last week at the UPMC Northwest walking trail for staff, patients, and the community.








UPMC Northwest Hospital has established an in-hospital room that is aimed at providing respite for health care workers.

“Imagine you enter a room that offers a glowing beach sunset, peaceful music, soft lighting, snacks, and the gentle hum of a massage chair lounger,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the non-profit Northwest Hospital Foundation that used a private contribution to do the project.  The room was designed to help health care professionals de-stress and re-energize before returning to the daily stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Edder.

“We saw many acutely ill COVID-19 patients in the fall and winter of 2020.  Staff from across the organization were faced with challenging and demanding consecutive shifts during this unprecedented time,” said Robin Melvin, chief nursing officer/vice president for patient care services.  “Providing care under these circumstances took a mental and physical toll on our staff and care providers.”

Since its inception, the respite room has been very well received, she said.  “The first day we opened the respite room, the staff were elated-just smiling and just so excited they had an area to decompress from an incredibly stressful day,” said Melvin.  All hospital staff, one at a time, are invited to enjoy the new room, said Edder.

A sign outside the room, which is open 24 hours a day, lets staff know if it is occupied, and a sign-up sheet is available.

The next addition to the room will be a bulletin board for posting additional staff resources, such as grief counseling and faith-based support.

The room was made possible with a donation from Marilyn Ham in memory of her husband, Dr. James Ham, a well-known obstetrician from Franklin.  The physician who passed away in 2016, was philanthropic in the community and instrumental in the design and construction of the Physician’s Building at the Franklin Hospital.  Both he and his wife Marilyn, who was a nurse, had careers at the Franklin Hospital.

“We are so grateful to the foundation and to Mrs. Ham for providing the funding,” Melvin said.  “It’s been a huge win for our teams.”


The popular walking trail is getting an upgrade to provide better access to the walkway.  The one-mile-long trail that loops around the hospital began as a mulch-covered path in 2005.  It was later converted to a gravel walk and in 2017 was rededicated when it was paved.  The Northwest Hospital Foundation led the effort to provide nearly $80,000 to the hospital to have the trail paved and entrance areas installed.

The path is used by hospital employees as well as the local community and school students, including Cranberry High School runners.

The improvements being done now near the main entranceway to the hospital will correct the grade, improve drainage and provide installed ADA mats.  The work will bring the trail into ADA compliance.

Access will also be enhanced for patients and visitors with physical challenges with the installation of more accessible curb cuts.  “Since paving the trail in 2017, the hospital has received requests from individuals with mobility limitations who would like to access the trail independently,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the non-profit foundation.  “Together we can ensure inclusion for all who want to benefit from the trail by ensuring safe access by wheelchair, walker, cane or any other assistance device.”

Funding for the project came from the Elizabeth S. Black Charitable Trust.  Whalen Contracting is doing the work which should be completed this spring.


UPMC Northwest is a little brighter this holiday season because of the generosity of a local couple.  A quartet of 20-foot-high, lighted Christmas trees have been erected on the hospital grounds.  The towering trees were funded by a donation to the non-profit Northwest Hospital Foundation.

“The donors wish to remain anonymous, but they are longtime supporters of our Foundation,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the Foundation.  “Their gift also includes the addition of two 10-foot trees for next year.”

The trees were placed in atypical settings rather than in common areas, such as the entranceway to the hospital.  That was a deliberate choice, said Edder.

“Two are in the front, but another is near the emergency room and the fourth is near the Transitional Care Unit,” she said.  “In each case, they can easily be seen by visitors, staff and patients.”

The intent for the tree setup was provided by Brian Durniok, hospital president.  “We had a simple Christmas tree in the courtyard and he said he wanted more than that,” said Edder.  “So he approached the Foundation and we found donors who were right on board with that.”

The effort was prompted by what Edder described “unusual times.”  “Due to the unusual circumstances of this holiday season, there will be an unprecedented number of patients who will be alone this year due to COVID restrictions and countless healthcare heroes working long hours away from their families,” she said.   Those concerns prompted the tall lighted trees to be placed in areas that have high visibility for staff and patients.

“Brian asked for that specifically because of patients who don’t have visitors and staff that is working so hard in this pandemic,” said Edder. “It lets people look out the hospital windows, see the trees and take a breath.”

The distinctive trees will remain in place through the holidays.


Franklin VFW Post #1835 recently provided a gift to the Northwest Hospital Foundation to improve the quality of life for disabled patients.


“Sometimes it’s not simply a question of what’s for dinner. It’s how dinner will be eaten,” said Theresa Edder, Executive Director of the non-profit foundation that supports the UPMC Northwest Hospital.


“People with eating disabilities caused by stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or other disabling changes can now take advantage of adaptive feeding equipment at UPMC Northwest Hospital, which can be a key component of an effective nutrition plan.”


Working with Matthew Gaertner, Commander of the Franklin VFW Post, the Foundation received a $1,000 donation to purchase adaptive feeding equipment that helps Northwest Hospital patients achieve an improved quality of life. UPMC Northwest has had up to four patients a week benefiting from these tools.


“Things we might take for granted, as simple as food staying on a spoon. These utensils make a difference. They assist where hands might have limited grip or mobility,” said Connie McIntyre, UPMC Northwest Hospital Food Service Manager. “Our occupational and physical therapy staff are thrilled with the new adaptive eating equipment.”


Adaptive feeding equipment comes in various forms to serve different needs. The modified cups, dishes, and utensils come in bright colors to make food more visible and appealing, help to stimulate the appetite, improve food intake, and promote dining independence and dignity.


“If a patient’s hand will not bend, the utensil can be adjusted to fit their grip. These tools can help improve the nutritional status of patients with feeding disabilities. They improve overall health and can shorten the length of stay,” said McIntyre.


“The Franklin VFW has a long history of supporting the hospital.  It’s through generous donations like this that make a big difference for the patients and their quality of living,” said Edder.  “Gifts like this underscore how vital our donors are to our success.”