Submitted by heitzend on Fri, 03/26/2021 - 16:21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    Contact: PJ Wendel

March 26, 2021                                                                                                           (716) 753-4211



MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and the COVID-19 Response Team recently announced the seventh week of COVID-19 Hero nominations for March 22-26.  Nominations are recognized in a video posted weekdays on the Chautauqua County Government Facebook page, and each nominee receives a personal note from the County Executive’s Office.


“We continue to share amazing stories of the individuals and groups in our community who have made a difference in the lives of others during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “I want to again personally thank our week seven nominees: Holly Reed, The Chautauqua Center Staff, Jannelle Weilacher, Bemus Point Volunteer Fire Department, Robert Matteson, Mental Health Association, Lisa Rura, Southwestern Independent Living Center, Donna Elderkin, and Heritage Ministries. These individuals have risen to the challenge of helping others during a global pandemic, and are truly our COVID-19 Heroes.”


Holly Reed is a Nurse Practitioner and has been so gracious and helpful to everyone during this rough time. She has offered help and advice to everyone that has needed it. Fighting covid herself part way through this pandemic she still worked remotely as needed through the symptoms. She is the definition of a true hero in such an unpredictable time.


The Chautauqua Center located in both Dunkirk and Jamestown as an organization has gone above and beyond for their patients and staff.  Earlier in the pandemic they were one of the few local options for COVID-19 testing, and now are a critical partner again in vaccine distribution.  They have never stopped caring for their patients during this pandemic and their staff members are going above and beyond to make sure the clinic is a safe place to be during this time.


Jannelle Weilacher is an ICU Charge Nurse at UPMC Chautauqua, and is a great nurse and leader. Those who have been or seen family in ICU have seen how Jannelle and the staff work very hard with all the covid patients, plus caring for all the other ICU patients. She and her staff show up every day regardless of how busy or overwhelming it may feel. Kudos to Jannelle and all the staff at UPMC Chautauqua ICU.


The Bemus Point Volunteer Fire Department and EMS have been working hard throughout the pandemic to serve their community during their time of most need.


Robert Matteson is a private caregiver with Freedomcare and has worked long days seven days a week since the pandemic began last March.  He has assisted and cared for many elderly and disabled patients to ensure their safety, providing comfort and companionship to his clients.  Robert went above and beyond to help with shopping and other errands, putting himself at risk so others didn’t have to.  Even when in isolation at one point, Robert found a way to continue putting others first by connecting via phone or email, and setting up delivery options for their necessities.


Mental Health Association continued providing their peer recovery services throughout the pandemic to be there for individuals struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.  They always put others before themselves, continuing necessary accommodations like transportation for people in need. So many lives have been touched and saved because of the amazing group at MHA.


Lisa Rura works as a nurse’s aide at UPMC Chautauqua and goes above and beyond in caring for her patients. Since the pandemic began, she has worked many hours of overtime to fill in when needed, and pours her heart in to her job and her patient’s care and success.  Her motto is “no one should die alone” which is a promise she has kept by sitting and being there with patients who don’t want to be alone when they pass.  Lisa is an amazing person inside and out and her dedication to her patients comfort has been a great relief for their families who have been unable to be present due to the COVID restrictions.


During the pandemic the employees of Southwestern Independent Living Center have worked diligently to ensure peoples’ needs were met.  Sometimes to accomplish this they had to be creative, to continue providing the wide variety of services they offer such as transportation, enrollment and other assistance.  They also established a Christmas Angels to organize anonymous individuals donating gifts for elderly individuals in assisted living and rehab facilities to brighten their holidays with family unable to see them.  Carloads of gifts were safely delivered to those in need.


Donna Elderkin works for Alstar Ambulance and was nominated because she goes above and beyond in her duties as an EMS provider.


Everyone at Heritage Ministries including maintenance, housekeeping, activities, dietary, direct care, medical team and administration deserve recognition as they are some of the most caring and empathetic people. On a normal day they go above and beyond but in the face of a pandemic and directly experiencing the unpredictability it can bring, they were an extremely resilient group who were able to adjust and adapt, putting residents first above themselves to ensure they receive the care they need and deserve.


Nominations will remain open through Wednesday, March 31, 2021 and submissions will continue to be recognized until all submissions have been named. To view COVID-19 Heroes videos, visit www.facebook.com/ChautauquaCountyGovernment. To nominate an individual to be recognized, visit the COVID-19 informational page on the county website at chqgov.com, or the form directly at https://chqgov.com/form/covid-heroes .



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