Twenty-five years ago, Horizon Health System became one of the first hospitals outside of Allegheny County to affiliate with UPMC, establishing UPMC Horizon. Since, UPMC has invested more than $150 million in UPMC Horizon, becoming a regional health care leader as well as one of the area’s largest employers.
Today, there are 102 staff members who have been employed since the affiliation. The story of UPMC Horizon continues through the voices of those employees, who keep the spirit of the community hospital of 1998 alive as it continues to grow and expand services.
‘The Little Engine That Could’
When Joni Murray, director of volunteer services, first started at the former Shenango Valley Osteopathic Hospital over 45 years ago, she never imagined the leaps and bounds the small community hospital would make. “As we became UPMC Horizon with various mergers, I was happy to be a part of it all,” she said. “I often referred to the hospital as the little engine that could.” Murray remarked on the updated equipment, construction and appearance that would not have been possible without UPMC.
“There are too many changes to count,” said Gail Lockhart, radiology clerk, who started in radiology 45 years ago. “Film to no film, file room to digital records.” All the employees remarked on the technological innovation that occurred after the affiliation.
From working in the medical staff services office 25 years ago to nursing administration today, Stephanie Krepp, executive assistant I, has spent most of her career in front of a computer. “When I first started, everything was on paper. Email was the latest and greatest advancement,” Krepp said, describing the big black screen and green letters that paved the way for Microsoft Office. “Look how far we have come with technology.”
For clinical employees, like Laurie Hardesty, senior professional staff nurse II who has worked in intensive care and IV therapy for 41 years, electronic documentation and the pivot to the hospitalist care model allowed for faster care. “I remember the days of paging a doctor and waiting for them to call you before trying to explain a patient’s case over the phone,” she said. “Now, the residents and hospitalists permit a faster assessment of patients.”
Shaping a Region
Simultaneously, UPMC Horizon expanded specialty services with affiliations with UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, UPMC Children’s Hospital, Magee-Womens Hospital and the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute. “Having specialties so easily accessible with the affiliation of UPMC is a benefit to the region,” said Hardesty. The specialties allow UPMC Horizon to meet a greater number of patients’ needs. “We have become busier over the last 25 years,” agreed Lockhart.
David D’Urso, director of medical staff services and physician recruitment, attributes the success of expanding regional care partially to the spirit of service all health care workers share. “Our desire to serve the community allows us to seamlessly regionalize services,” he said. “Over time, we learned our differences were insignificant compared to what we shared in common.”
“I am proud to see how UPMC Horizon, with both campuses in Greenville and Shenango Valley, and UPMC Jameson collaborate to form a strong, regional system that positions us well into the future,” said D’Urso, remarking on the days of the past, from phone books, dictionaries and typewriters to a hospital without a helicopter service.
The Heart of UPMC Horizon
While UPMC Horizon is different than it used to be, there is one constant — the employees. “The heart of the people working at UPMC Horizon has not changed at all,” D’Urso said. “They all want to make the world a little better.” David’s best memories are the moments when a family member or friend is treated by a provider he helped hire. “Bringing these talented providers to our hospital makes me feel like I make a difference in the health of my community.”
UPMC Horizon gives all their employees the opportunity to care for the members of their community. “I am blessed to have an excellent nursing career so close to home,” said Hardesty. After 25 years together, UPMC Horizon has become a home for its staff. “I have seen many people come and go, but we are all more than co-workers. We are family,” Lockhart said. “As the only Black person in my department, I am always treated with kindness and respect.”
Sharing the most important lesson she learned at UPMC Horizon, Murray emphasized the importance of investing in relationships. “I met new people and created lifelong friendships,” she said. “There are many wonderful, caring, concerned employees who go out of their way to ensure patients, families, and their peers have the best experience possible.”
Murray formed some of her greatest memories with volunteers. “I got to work with people of all ages, including my parents who volunteered before their passing.” In November, her oldest volunteer will be 99 years old.
“I could not have asked for a better career,” said Murray, who officially retired after 45 years of service on June 5. “When I started working at the hospital, I was younger than the interns. Now, I could be their grandmother. I would never have wanted to be anywhere else than at UPMC Horizon.”
Journalists interested in learning more can contact email@example.com.