Wendel announces transformation of department

Submitted Photo Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, right, welcomes Carmelo Hernandez as the director of the recently formed Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services.

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua County Executive Paul M. Wendel Jr. recently announced the completed integration of the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene and Division of Social Services and the creation of the new Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services.

“This integrated department will provide enhanced services and treatment opportunities to county residents while preventing residents from slipping through the cracks when dealing with multiple county agencies,” Wendel said. “Our initial 12 employees broke down barriers, and focused on a resident first approach to treatment and services. I, personally, thank each and every member for their diligent work to make this project a success.”

At this same event, Wendel also formally announced his appointment of Carmelo Hernandez as the Director of the Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services.

Hernandez began his position as Director of Community Mental Hygiene Services on Sept. 7, 2021 filling the vacancy left by former director Patricia Brinkman, who retired in April of 2021.

Prior to being hired by Chautauqua County Hernandez previously served as a lead therapist at Alssaro Counseling Services in New Rochelle, N.Y. and a mental health consultant at WestCOP in Westchester. Prior to that he served as a program manager for Wediko Children’s Services and a combat stress recovery specialist for the Wounded Warrior Project.

“Carmelo has a diverse background in mental health services, and has been an asset for Chautauqua County since he was hired,” said Wendel. “I know he will be a leader for the newly formed Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services and provide even better services for our county residents.”

“I am excited to provide more robust services in a collaborative manner to better serve the residents of our County,” said Hernandez. “This merger seeks to make County departments more efficient by sharing resources and streamlining information, practices and procedures. This will improve each department’s standard operating procedures to improve the quality and scope of our services.”

Hernandez earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from New York University in New York, N.Y. and is a certified Licensed Master Social Worker. He currently resides in Westfield.


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