RGHS Health Club Raises Funds for Patient Hardship

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Karen Baldwin, CEO Franklin-Oil Region Credit Union, Kelly Hart, Principal of Rocky Grove High School, Leann Highfield, teacher and Health Club advisor, Juliet Hilburn, Annual Giving Officer of Northwest Hospital Foundation, and Theresa Edder, Executive Director of Northwest Hospital Foundation, and students of the RGHS Oriole Health Club meet outside Rocky Grove High School.

The Rocky Grove High School Oriole Health Club and Franklin-Oil Region Credit Union raised $200 to benefit the Patient Hardship Fund of the Northwest Hospital Foundation. The RGHS Health Club hosted a Community Night Fundraiser at Hoss’s Restaurant in Seneca on April 28. The students raised $100 which was matched by Franklin-Oil Region Credit Union.

The Patient Hardship Fund is an emergency fund for patients at UPMC Northwest who are uninsured or under-insured, and without the means to pay for minor expenses related to their care. It is available to assist patients in obtaining prescriptions, durable medical equipment, supplies, or services they cannot financially afford.

For more information about the Patient Hardship Fund, please visit NorthwestHospitalFoundation.org or contact Theresa Edder, Executive Director by calling 814-676-7145 or emailing edderta2@upmc.edu.

Gift from Local Clubs Helps Kids Prepare for Surgery

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Pictured left to right are Fryburg Sportsman’s Club members Tom Nale and Jerry Hooper, UPMC Northwest Director of Surgical Services Patricia Boland, Clarion Rod & Gun Club member Phyllis Agnello, and Northwest Hospital Foundation Executive Director Theresa Edder.

Thanks to a donation from two local clubs, children at UPMC Northwest are receiving a comfortable and personalized experience in the operating room.

The Fryburg Sportsman’s Club and Clarion Rod & Gun Club donated $1,000 to the Northwest Hospital Foundation for the purchase of stuffed animals for children in surgery.

Stuffed animals help kids overcome some of the anxiety that goes along with surgery and enables them to learn about their operations in a fun way. “A stuffed animal greets each child upon arrival and is used to demonstrate what will happen during the operation by the surgical team. The child gets to keep the stuffed animal throughout the procedure and take it home after discharge,” said UPMC Northwest Director of Surgical Services Patricia Boland.

“It’s easy for children to feel overwhelmed or nervous about going to surgery. These fluffy friends offer the children a comforting sense of security, fostering emotional growth and resilience.”

The Northwest Hospital Foundation is seeking additional support to continue the program. For more information, please visit NorthwestHospitalFoundation.org or contact Theresa Edder, Executive Director by calling 814-676-7145 or emailing edderta2@upmc.edu.

Hospital Foundation Purchases Ambulance Lift

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John Anderson (Executive Director, Community Ambulance Service), Tim Fletcher (Director of Operations, Community Ambulance Service), Jeff Hollidge (Operations Supervisor, Community Ambulance Service), Benjamin Hart (EMS Specialist, UPMC Northwest), and Theresa Edder (Executive Director, Northwest Hospital Foundation) with the Stryker MTS Power Cot-Load.

A new piece of hydraulic lifting equipment will make it easier and safer for our area’s first responders to transport larger patients to and from UPMC Northwest.

Recently the Northwest Hospital Foundation donated a Stryker MTS Power Cot-Load lifting assist device that was installed in a Community Ambulance Service ambulance. With the push of a button, the device lifts the patient into and out of the ambulance on the stretcher, with no lifting and little assistance required. The Power Cot-Load is used to lift patients weighing up to 700 pounds.

Community Ambulance Service is the primary EMS transport in Venango County. They serve a population of around 50,000 people and deliver approximately 80% of prehospital patients to UPMC Northwest. With an increasing average weight of patients and an aging EMS workforce, lift-related injuries are on the rise. The most effective way to keep patients and EMS workers safe is to reduce lifting as much as possible.

The lifting device not only reduces the risk of stretcher injuries, it also ensures larger patients are transported comfortably to and from Northwest. Previously, UPMC Northwest and Community Ambulance Service did not have the ability to quickly transport heavier patients without outside assistance. The new equipment creates better experiences for these patients and improves their ability to seek medical care.

John Anderson, Executive Director of Community Ambulance Service, said, “We would like to thank the Northwest Hospital Foundation for this equipment. It is a great asset to our EMS workers to use in the field to safely move patients to, from, and between UPMC Northwest and other facilities.”

The Northwest Hospital Foundation thoughtfully enhances the health care of our community by making financial resources available to UPMC Northwest in its mission to deliver high-quality services to the residents of the region. For information, visit NorthwestHospitalFoundation.org or contact Theresa Edder, Executive Director by calling (814) 676-7145 or emailing edderta2@upmc.edu.


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.”