MAYVILLE, N.Y.:-- Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel and the COVID-19 Response Team recently announced the thirteenth week of COVID-19 Hero nominations for May 3-7. 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.
“Our heroes this week have positively impacted our community in many ways throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said County Executive PJ Wendel. “I want to again personally thank our week thirteen nominees: Halie Mesch, Samantha Smith, Stacy Ode, Jerry Anderson, Christine Maloney, Bonnie Gula, Keeley McWilliams, Lisa Haglund, and all Chautauqua County nurses. These individuals have risen to the challenge of helping others during a global pandemic, and are truly our COVID-19 Heroes.”
Halie Mesch works at Aurora Dental Care and literally works “face to face” with the public every day. She risks this potential exposure to COVID-19 even with her own health conditions to ensure their patients are taken care of.
Samantha Smith is the school nurse at Sinclairville Elementary and has worked tirelessly to keep the students safe. She has sacrificed time with her young family to make sure that students and staff are tracked, safe and all concerns are met. She has gone above and beyond her job duties not only for the elementary school but for the entire CVCS district. She helps teachers, students, parents and community members daily to understand this uncertain time.
Stacy Ode is an RN at the Chautauqua Nursing & Rehabilitation Center where she is always going above and beyond for her residents and fellow staff. She is the Unit manager of 2B but is always on the floor helping her nurses and aides when needed. The residents love Stacy as she is a very caring and wonderful nurse. She has worked every day throughout the pandemic she was able to, and it has not been easy with the physical and emotional toll on nurses. However Stacy has been there for her residents, staff and family and her strength has helped many weather the storm of the past year.
Jerry Anderson is a first responder with the Gerry Volunteer Fire Department and has responded to almost every call they have had over the last year. Because of his dedication to the department and community, Jerry received the First Responder Award. He never hesitates to drop what he is doing to run a call and the local residents and fellow Gerry firefighters cannot thank him enough.
Christine Maloney is an occupational therapist at Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic for their residents. She has spent the past month almost entirely working with COVID positive residents, and goes above in making sure residents are properly cared for. Chris is amazingly compassionate and deserves some recognition as her job is incredibly challenging, especially during a global pandemic.
Bonnie Gula has been working at CVS in Dunkirk since the location opened 42 years ago. During the pandemic she has been extremely busy working extra shifts on the front lines ensuring people can get their medications and other needs. Thankfully she’s been healthy even though the she is potentially exposed to the virus daily. CVS in Dunkirk has been offering vaccines and Bonnie has a critical role in making sure the process goes smoothly and everyone is safe and comfortable. After 42 years, this year for her has been like no other and she has stepped up and showed up everyday for the community and will continue to do so.
Keeley McWilliams works at Heritage Park and volunteered to temporarily go to Heritage Green during their recent outbreak. She worked alongside strangers in an unfamiliar setting, she worked double shifts, sometimes having less than 8 hours off before going back to work. Keeley cared for those she was serving while being compassionate to them regarding their concerns for their health. Residents of her home facility, the park, miss her but know she is helping out with a smile on her face and kind words.
Lisa Haglund is the first female leader in the history of Heritage Ministries, and took over as CEO during a global pandemic. She was recently named one of Western New York’s power 250 leaders. Lisa has personally worked on COVID units and handled the stress as a new CEO by placing employees and residents first. She has started new employee appreciation programs, instituted wellness support and counseling for staff, and done so much more.
A special recognition was also announced on Nurse Appreciation Day, May 6th. Many nurses have been individually recognized as COVID-19 Heroes but on Nurse Appreciation Day the hard work of all nurses across Chautauqua County was recognized. Nurses are a critical part of many areas in our life and they always go above and beyond to care for the health and wellbeing of their fellow community members.
Nominations closed on March 31, 2021. Individuals will continue to be recognized in the coming weeks until all submissions have been named. To view COVID-19 Heroes videos, visit www.facebook.com/ChautauquaCountyGovernment.