UPMC Northwest and the Northwest Hospital Foundation would like to invite all cancer survivors and their families and friends to a picnic celebrating life on Wednesday, August 16, 2017.

Registration is at 4:00 p.m. with the Program beginning at 4:30 p.m.  at the UPMC Northwest Pavilion,
100 Fairfield Dr., Seneca, PA.  Join us for food, entertainment, and our 17th annual commemorative ceremony.

RSVP for this picnic by calling the UPMC Northwest Community Relations Department at 814-677-1463.  The Deadline to register for this event is August 11.


UPMC Northwest’s walking trail has celebrated its 12 year anniversary with a major make over. As part of its anniversary and revitalization, Northwest Hospital Foundation hosted a rededication ceremony on Thursday, June 29 at the pavilion located along the trail.

Brian Durniok, UPMC Northwest president, began the program by stressing the importance of walking as a key indicator of keeping the community healthy and as a way of achieving a better quality of life.

He shared, “We take great pride as a hospital, and through the generosity of many community friends, that we are able to share this great addition to UPMC Northwest with not only our own employees but with the greater Venango County area.”

Theresa Edder, Northwest Hospital Foundation executive director said, “It was a great honor to work with the donors, as well as IA Pavers and Kings Landscaping, who made the enhancements to the walking trail a reality. It is something that the entire community, from our employees to our neighbors and local students, and even our four-legged friends can enjoy for many years to come.”

Donna Puleio, MD, UPMC Northwest oncologist, and Susan Senko, community member, also shared comments about the importance of the walking trail. Robert Pilewski, MD, gave a blessing for the trail that ‘encircles our center of healing at UPMC Northwest’.

To conclude the event a ribbon cutting ceremony and inaugural walk was held, led by Frank Gill, Northwest Hospital Foundation president, Theresa Edder, Brian Durniok, Dr. Donna Puleio, Dr. Stephen Cenedella, Dr. Robert Pilewski, Susan Senko, Chris Marshall, Kings Landscaping representative, and Melissa Smerkar, assistant branch manager at the Oil City First National Bank, who were joined by a group of hospital employees, foundation members and friends.

The Northwest Hospital Foundation recently spearheaded a project to provide nearly $80,000 to the hospital to have the entire trail paved and entrance areas installed for easier pedestrian access. Other trail enhancements included the addition of three rest areas featuring benches and landscaping.

The Dr. and Mrs. Arthur William Phillips Charitable Trust, along with seven additional donors, provided the funding for the project.

What began in 2005 as a mulch-covered path (that was later converted to gravel) around the newly constructed UPMC Northwest hospital, the walking trail’s initial purpose was as a wellness benefit for hospital employees. Over the years, the interest and usage of the trail by local community members and school students has grown steadily.

On any given day, the trail plays host to not only hospital employees and locals getting some exercise, but also to Cranberry High School runners in the cross country and track and field programs.

According to Andi Barrett, physical education teacher and head girls cross country coach at Cranberry, approximately 70-75 students train on the trail throughout the school year, adding the .9 mile trail to their regular workout in a safer, less traffic-ingested area.

Barrett says, “The trail gives our students a safe location within the community to work out and allows them to run on different terrain and gives them new scenery other than the regular routes around our own school campus that can get monotonous.”

Regarding the recent enhancements to the trail, she says, “The walking trail upgrades have been a great addition to UPMC NW. As a coach, I not only get to see my student athletes reap the benefits, but I see numerous employees utilizing the trail on their breaks or before and after their shift.”

She adds, “The physical education teacher in me loves to see something so accessible and user-friendly being put to good use by community members of all ages, and I especially enjoy hearing my students say ‘yes’ or ‘sweet’ when I tell them that we’re heading to UPMC Northwest.”

Have You Met Our Newest Staff Member?

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The hospital’s Learning Resource Center recently added a simulation manikin that is being used to help train staff involved in patient care, to include nursing staff and patient care technicians. The manikin also will be a resource to the community in that it will be used to help train local emergency paramedics who attend American Heart Association courses at the hospital.

The manikin is interactive and will allow staff to practice listening to the lungs and heart. In particular, staff will be able to train for patient scenarios such as a collapsed lung or lack of air movement.

In addition, the manikin allows staff to assess pulse, respirations, and heart rate and more easily recognize and react when a patient’s condition is deteriorating.

“The manikin will certainly augment our current resources,” said Stacy Workman, BSN, nurse educator. “It will help staff build their communication and teamwork skills and use of best practices.”

The purchase of the manikin was made possible through the generosity of the Northwest Hospital Foundation, which made a $15,000 grant.

“The hospital’s most valuable asset is the staff,” said Theresa Edder, executive director of the Northwest Hospital Foundation. “The foundation is pleased to make strategic investments which enhance their training, knowledge base, and skills and which help improve patient care, safety, outcomes, and satisfaction levels. We’re very grateful for the continued support of our donors, because initiatives like this wouldn’t be possible without their generosity.”

Susan Hoobler, Director of Clinical and Operational Informatics,
demonstrates how staff can listen to heart and lungs.


On any given day, there are multiple patients who visit the UPMC Northwest Emergency Department and Behavioral Health Unit. Their reasons for being treated in these units range from experiencing routine symptoms to more severe illness or injury.

The Emergency Department staff began noticing with increased regularity that patients needed a change of clothes to return home, a situation that the patient or their family were not prepared for in many instances.

Whether patients are victims of sexual assault or have been in automobile or other traumatic accidents, the need to remove the patient’s clothing, sometimes ruining them in the process, is necessary to properly treat the patient.

In addition, a number of patients present to the ED and Behavioral Health units who do not have the means to adequately clothe themselves.

Heidi Boitnott, unit director of the Emergency Department, and Trisha Rimpa, clinical administrator of the Behavioral Health Unit, knew that they were experiencing the same issues with regard to patients needing clothing.

According to Rimpa, “There has always been a need for extra clothing on the Behavioral Health Unit.  Many of the BH patients do not know they will be admitted or even coming to the hospital due to involuntary admission status and crisis situations.”

“Patients are often admitted with only whatever they are wearing, which most times does not include shoes, coats, or appropriate undergarments.  Due to the circumstances of the patient’s arrival, there are typically other stressors going on that do not allow for items to be brought in for the patient,” she adds.

“They may not have supportive family or friends or have travelled a long distance to be admitted to Northwest.  We receive referrals and patients from all over the state due to the lack of behavioral health beds throughout the country.”

Following much discussion by the unit directors and their staffs, the idea to develop a more efficient system to supply clothing to patients in crisis was formed. On many occasions, staff from Behavioral Health have purchased items on their own or made quick trips to area stores to pick things up for patients, or even shared some personal items with patients in need.

With the assistance from all 15 members of the Northwest Hospital Foundation Board, a solution for this issue was found.

Because the patients, both male and female, who require these items can be any age and size, a wide variety of items could be needed on any given day.  Storage of these clothes and having the right item at the right time for the right patient became a real issue.

“We realized early on that because of the wide variety of clothing and shoe types, styles and sizes needed vary on an individual basis, and keeping that kind of stock was unrealistic with our limited storage space, a gift card system would be a better solution all around,” said Boitnott.

That’s where the Northwest Hospital Foundation board came in.  The two directors approached the foundation to provide ‘seed money’ for the Clothing Fund, and the board members very generously jumped on board.

“As a board, we recognized the direct human impact of this project, and wanted to become personally involved to maintain the dignity of patients,” said Theresa Edder, foundation executive director.

“The board recognized that it is not a good idea for patients to leave the hospital with inadequate clothing or in a hospital gown, especially in the winter months, and everyone committed to contributing our annual gift in support of this important project,” she continued.

The Clothing Fund has been established with over $5,300 and enables staff members to provide Walmart gift cards in $10 increments to patients and/or their families to purchase clothing for the trip home or transfer to another facility. If no family member is available to purchase the clothing items, hospital staff will do the shopping.


“The initiation of the Clothing Fund is such a blessing because then staff are able to provide these basic needs for patients without always sacrificing their own money.  If you have never dealt one-on-one with a patient who is about to be sent to another facility or treatment center, and they have no underwear of their own or no coat, it is hard to describe,” said Rimpa.

“The patients are so thankful and grateful for any help that we provide them, and due to circumstances of their illness they have lost many personal belongings, and clothing is often one of the first to go.  A warm coat and shoes without holes often brings tears to the eyes of the patient and the staff who make it happen,” she adds.

And according to Boitnott, “One of our main purposes is to protect our patients’ dignity while they are in our care, and this is one small way that we are able to do that,” added Boitnott. “We are fortunate to have Northwest Hospital Foundation to assist us in providing high quality, compassionate care for all of our patients.”


upmc65Over 100 members of the Northwest Hospital Foundation Corporation gathered for their annual meeting on Wednesday, October 12 at The Franklin, where they reflected on foundation activities over the past year and were introduced to several new UPMC Northwest initiatives. Board chair, Frank Gill, welcomed 12 new members from surrounding communities to the corporation:  Randy Amsler; Bill Buchna; Michael Dill; Dr. Roxanne Gonzales; Judy Lentz; Jodi Lewis; Mary Louise Logue; Richard Mihalic; Will Price; Ryan Rudegeair; Roxanne Spaid; Doug Volmerich.

An important benchmark was reached when the foundation board participated 100 percent as donors, personally demonstrating their commitment to the organization’s mission. This achievement resulted in enough funds to be set aside for a clothing fund for patients who are treated at UPMC Northwest who present at the hospital without sufficient clothing or who may find themselves without clothing due to a rape situation or an accident. Philanthropic support to the foundation was highlighted with mention of two recent grants. The Addison Gibson Trust recently provided $100,000 of uncompensated care to area patients and The Phillips Charitable Trust provided $50,000 for paving the walking trail at UPMC Northwest.

The Northwest Hospital Foundation has provided UPMC Northwest with over $1.2 Million over the past twelve months. That funding has been put towards services such as: Uncompensated Care, Blue-Light Cystoscopy, Navigational Bronchoscopy, Centervue Digital Retinography System (DRS), Behavioral Health Mural, Sleep Safe & Snug Children’s Book, TCU/Rehab Unit Pledge on $3 million commitment, and a Hospital Clothing Fund Donation for the underserved.

Mr. Gill shared a letter from a patient who had received help in the form of uncompensated care from the foundation, thanking them for providing care when the patient could not.

Hospital President, David Gibbons, shared UPMC Northwest is looking at what he referred to as a great trajectory, despite distress among other hospitals. UPMC Northwest has become a top performer in quality initiatives, with a dramatic increase in the number of patients being served, resulting in a profound effect on the surrounding community with the addition of new treatment options to aid with diagnoses and better treatment. Gibbons says, “Our goal is to provide high-quality care with state of the art equipment.”

Gibbons outlined several successful areas of program development including telehealth/ telemedicine services and the opening of a 16-bed extended acute care unit as a part of the Behavioral Health department. The 2016 fiscal year also included the purchase of new CT and MRI machines with construction slated for early spring of 2017 to house the new equipment.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has given UPMC Northwest in Seneca four stars out of five in its annual comparison of the nation’s hospitals. The star rating reflects comprehensive quality information about the care provided at our nation’s hospitals based on 64 quality measures.

A review of Northwest Hospital Foundation’s financial report was presented by McGill Power, Bell and Associates, LLP who declared a clean opinion of the foundation audit for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015, with work currently under way on the 2016 audit.

Mr. Gill concluded the meeting by sharing with the corporation membership, “Little streams make a big river. Little bits from all of us add up to be something quite significant.”

Northwest Hospital Foundation Names Kay Ensle Executive Assistant

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Northwest Hospital Foundation chairperson Frank Gill (left) and executive director Theresa Edder (right) welcome Kay Ensle (center) who is joining the foundation as executive assistant.


Northwest Hospital Foundation is pleased to announce Kay Ensle is joining the staff as executive assistant to support growth initiatives. Ensle will provide administrative support to the executive director, including donor research and data management, financial and goal reporting, and social media communications.

In regard to this new opportunity, Ensle commented, “This is a wonderful opportunity and I am grateful for the chance to assist in the growth and continued development of the foundation. I look forward to providing support to the executive director and the board, as we work together to enhance the Hospital’s mission to provide high-quality health care to our area residents.”

The Northwest Hospital Foundation launched a series of new initiatives to thoughtfully enhance the health care of our community by working with loyal supporters to fund programs and activities that go above and beyond what an established health care system would generally be expected to provide.

Quietly and behind the scenes in many ways, the Foundation enables and provides many of the services and features that make the hospital more comfortable and more comforting. Through the generosity of many in our community, recent gifts have included equipment and technology advancements, physician and staff education, and programs that directly impact patient care.

On Ensle’s appointment, Edder stated, “Kay brings diverse experience, including a background in development and donor cultivation, which will help accelerate our efforts, enhancing patient programs and services at UPMC Northwest Hospital through increased donor support and strong community engagement.”

The Northwest Hospital Foundation was established in 1982 and receives and allocates gifts exclusively in support of UPMC Northwest Hospital.


UPMC Northwest Introduces New Service for Patients with Sight-Threatening Conditions

Northwest Hospital Foundation and the Teleconsult Center at UPMC Northwest are teaming up to provide patients with state of the art ophthalmology evaluation services using newly acquired digital retinal scanning equipment and telemedicine technology that provide direct access to medical specialists at the UPMC Eye and Ear Institute in Pittsburgh.

UPMC Northwest has acquired a Centervue Digital Retinography System (DRS) and telemedicine cart designed specifically for use with the new ophthalmology equipment through a generous grant from the Northwest Hospital Foundation.

“This new technology provides patients at Northwest with quick diagnosis and treatment of potentially sight-threatening conditions without delay by an ophthalmology specialist in Pittsburgh via live audio/video feed while collaborating with our on-site physician experts,” said David Gibbons, UPMC Northwest president.

He adds, “We are pleased that once again, through telemedicine technology, we are able to provide our patients and families access to world class, highly specialized medical care in their home community without the need to travel long distances.”

Following the initial ophthalmology consultation either in Northwest’s Emergency Department or an inpatient unit, digital retinal scanning using the new Centerview DRS equipment is available to patients suffering from Diabetic Retinopathy and other sight-threatening conditions.

James McLaughlin, DO, neurologist at UPMC Northwest and medical director of the Teleconsult Center, is enthusiastic about the newest service in the telemedicine program saying, “With the DRS equipment available 24/7 to both adult and pediatric patients, we can now get a thorough ocular exam including detailed photographs of the retina in a much shorter time.”

He continues, “Our ophthalmology experts, either at Northwest or in Pittsburgh at the Ear and Eye Institute, have the luxury of seeing patients in real time with more advanced imagery available, thus shortening the time from examination to diagnosis to treatment.”

“Another great advantage is that the images generated by the Centervue equipment becomes part of the patient’s permanent electronic record and can be used as a baseline for comparison of future exams.”According to Theresa Edder, executive director of the Northwest Hospital Foundation, “Because the foundation is committed to supporting UPMC Northwest in its mission to provide high-quality health care for area residents, this project is a perfect example of how community support is so vital to the future of health care in Venango County.”                                                                                                                                                                 DRS Dr McLaughlin July 2016 (002)                                                         

UPMC Northwest neurologist James McLaughlin, D.O. demonstrates the operation of UPMC Northwest’s new digital retinal scanning equipment for nursing student Betsy Jones.

In addition to assisting with the acquisition of specialized equipment and services at UPMC Northwest, projects funded by the Northwest Hospital Foundation include providing financial assistance to patients who do not have the resources to pay their hospital expenses, underwriting construction projects and other hospital building enhancements, providing grants for health education, awareness and prevention, as well as building an endowment fund to cover future capital costs and other hospital needs.

Northwest Hospital Foundation Elects Officers, Welcomes New Members

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Northwest Hospital Foundation Elects Officers, Welcomes New Members

The Northwest Hospital Foundation began 2016 with a change in its board leadership.

Frank Gill, Jr. has been elected chairperson of the 15-person board, with James Greenfield being named vice-chairperson. Gail Welch serves as treasurer, and Carol Williams is secretary.

The group was voted into office at the foundation’s November 2015 meeting that also welcomed new board members Rod Griffin of Specialty Fabrication and Powder Coating, LLC, and Mike Morrison of Morrison Funeral Home, Inc.

The slate of officers and board members began their new roles in January 2016 serving along with current members Hope Bittner, Judy Etzel, David Gibbons, Nancy Guth, Michael Hajduk, DMD, Mark Hale, Keith Pemrick, Niki Volmrich, and James Williams, Jr., representing the areas of health care, education, media, law, business, and finance.

Gill succeeds Denise Jones, who served as chairman throughout 2015.

“We are very appreciative of Denise’s many contributions while chairperson, including leading the process of introducing a new foundation name, identity and increased presence in the community. I’m looking forward to continuing this growth under Frank’s direction,” says Theresa Edder, Northwest Hospital Foundation executive director.

Gill, an Oil City resident, is owner of Gill Consulting LLC.  He has over 43 years of experience in planning, designing and implementing human resource strategies for various businesses and service agencies, as well as education and government organizations throughout northwestern Pennsylvania.

“I am honored for the opportunity to lead Northwest Hospital Foundation, and to work closely with Theresa and the board to develop new and exciting projects that support UPMC Northwest in its mission to provide high-quality health care in our community,” explains Gill.

He concludes, “It is truly gratifying working with this group of highly qualified individuals.  Their expertise and professional experiences allow for many diverse and wide-reaching viewpoints, and that will support the mission of Northwest Hospital Foundation.”


Beh Health Mural B 2016 (002)

Photo:  Theresa Edder, Executive Director, Northwest Hospital Foundation; Trisha Rimpa, Behavioral Health Unit Administrator; Deac Mong, Artist

The staff in the Behavioral Health unit at UPMC Northwest have spent years caring for some of the community’s most vulnerable individuals, those who have experienced severe trauma, various types of abuse, addiction, loss, illness and financial strain. Their goal is to look at the whole patient while treating both physical and emotional symptoms.

The recent addition of a large wall mural in the unit enhances the care provided to patients in the Behavioral Health unit on a daily basis.  Because hospital environments can be somewhat sterile and uninviting, the addition of a colorful, interesting focal point can have a major impact of a patient’s mood and treatment success.

A growing amount of scientific literature supports and confirms that the conventional way hospital units are designed may be linked to increased stress levels of patients.  Research supports the idea that improved physical settings can be an important tool in making hospitals safer, aid in healing, and even be better places to work.

“Our patients are very restricted in their movements while in treatment, and since this is their home sometimes for extended periods, the staff felt it important that their surroundings be as comforting and calming as possible,” says Trisha Rimpa, RN, BSN, MA, Behavioral Health clinical administrator.

Rimpa adds, “We are very appreciative that the Northwest Hospital Foundation allowed us the opportunity to add some color and joy to our unit, and provide our patients with new levels of therapy by funding this project.”

The colorful five foot by 20 foot mural, painted by local artist Deac Mong, was produced in his studio and later installed in a commons area within the Behavioral Health unit at UPMC Northwest in Seneca. “This project has been very rewarding for me as an artist, and to know that my work can help someone heal is extremely fulfilling.  I am thankful that I was given the opportunity to be part of such an important endeavor for the community,” says Mong.

Born and raised in the Franklin area, Mong graduated with honors from the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale in Florida in 1980. In addition to painting many murals in local buildings such as the Venango County Courthouse, Franklin V.F.W., Eagles Club, Franklin Public Library, Amazing Foods, and many local residences, his prolific career has included producing art and design for high end hotels both nationally and internationally.  Mong has also produced art that was sold in stores across the country, and his work has appeared in movies and on TV shows such as ‘The Oprah Show’.

The project was a collaborative effort between the artist and hospital staff, who proposed the idea for the mural, developed the theme for the artwork, and provided a meaningful quote that appears within the design, ‘difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations’. Sharing their ideas throughout the process, the hospital employees were able to incorporate design elements that they believed would enhance both the beauty and treatment value of the artwork.

From inception to completion, the mural has been a group process. As Rimpa explains, “Our current nurse practitioner Carolyn Williams came up with the idea for a mural while doing a clinical rotation on our unit last year.”

“When Carolyn saw Deac’s work at a local event she instantly thought of him as a possible source for the mural, and I was able to make contact with him to start the process. Behavioral Health clinician Gregg Hazlett loved the idea, and he played a large part in writing the funding request to the foundation,” adds Rimpa.

“We are thankful for Deac’s willingness to take the many ideas from those who work directly with our patients and produce a beautiful piece of art that will have a long lasting positive effect on everyone who sees it,” says Rimpa. She continues, “He was able to include small nuances such as wildlife and local outdoor scenes, like what you would see in Venango County, that can be especially beneficial to those patients not from our area and not accustomed to seeing the type of local beauty we see on a daily basis.”

Northwest Hospital Foundation and Behavioral Health staff will unveil the newest addition to their unit for hospital employees when they host an open house during Behavioral Health Awareness week in May.

Theresa Edder, Northwest Hospital Foundation executive director shares, “Our foundation’s mission is to support the work of UPMC Northwest. The benefits of this mural were seen immediately within the Behavioral Health Unit, and that is what is so special about this project.”

She concludes by saying, “It is through the generosity of our community that makes projects like this a reality for the patients at UPMC Northwest.”