Dr.’s Kim Trinidad and Robert Plunkett, along with Registered Nurse Pat Weigel and patient Tom O’Donnell helped found The Parkinson’s Wellness Group (PWG) in 1997. Pat had just been hired at Buffalo General Hospital to a position that never before existed, Clinical Nurse Coordinator of the Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center. Dr. Trinidad approached her, encouraging her to phone Tom, a patient who wanted to start a PD group.
The first meeting was planned and both Pat and Tom waited, anxious and excited, to see if anyone would find the door with a handmade sign hanging in the window. Lo and behold, 17 people showed up! They were a bit nervous at the onset, but by the end of the meeting, smiles filled the room! Since then, meetings with patients and caregivers have been held every 3rd Wednesday of the month.
Going strong for 16 years, the sustained success of this group is a direct result of the committed volunteer PWG staff consisting of a ATTP trained registered nurse and licensed social worker, two highly motivated, positive young patients with PD (Tom O’Donnell and Rick Lipka), and an ATTP trained Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist and Speech Pathologist. We have grown to having over 1000 contacts on our current mailing list.
In 2009, the founders of the PWG met with a group of talented and interested supporters. This group became the Board of Directors for what was then called the Parkinson’s Association of Western New York (PAWNY). The organization continued under that title until 2012, when they elected to join with the National Parkinson Foundation to become the Western New York Chapter (NPFWNY). The Board continues to support exercise and dance classes along with an educational symposium and a variety of activities and events throughout the year. Support groups for patients and caregivers are now established in many towns throughout the region.
Board of Directors
President - Patricia Weigel, RN
Nurse Coordinator, University at Buffalo Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center
Vice President - Tom O’Donnell
Co-founder of The Parkinson’s Association of WNY
Treasurer - Linda Mosher
Branch Operations Specialist, First Niagara Bank
Vice President of Communications - Christopher Jamele
Jamele Freelance Services
Vice President of Strategic Planning - Gary Kurdziel
Therapy Consultant, Medtronic
Secretary - Evalyn Katz, LCSW
University at Buffalo Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center
Rick Lipka – President Emeritus
Robert J. Plunkett, MD – Associate Professor of Neurosurgery, University at Buffalo
Kimberly Trinidad, MD – Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurosurgery and Neurology, University at Buffalo
Mark Burkard, RN – University at Buffalo Neurosurgery
Harry J. Forrest – Attorney with Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan, P.C.
Susan Nichter, RPA-C – Buffalo Medical Group