WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Good Shepherd Nursing home held a reception Friday, Jan. 13 at 11 a.m. in honor of Dr. William Mercer for his dedicated service to staff and residents, and for being awarded a national prize.

Mercer received the Milton and Ruth Roemer Prize from American Public Health Association (APHA) for two programs he created during his time as the Wheeling Ohio County Public Health Officer.

Mercer’s programs “Joe Too Cool To Smoke” and “Project HOPE” impressed the APHA committee who say the programs demonstrate commitment, collaboration, and passion in addressing public health issues at the street level.

“Well, this was a very exciting and humbling. But (as all awards) there’s a lot of people behind this. I was the health officer for 22 years here in Ohio County and that enabled me to do a lot of programs.”

Dr. William Mercer – Physician, Good Shepherd Nursing Home

Not only has Mercer left a lasting impression in the community, but also the nurses and patients he works with at Good Shepherd.

Nancy Bartlett is a resident of Good Shepherd and patient of Mercer. She talks highly of the nursing home and the care she receives. Dr. Mercer helped her quit smoking and recover from severe illnesses.

“I respect him dearly. He makes you feel like you’re a part of his family. He’s wonderful.”

Nancy Bartlett, Resident of Good Shepherd Nursing Home

Barlett’s 93-year-old mother is also a resident of Good Shepard, and she says she receives phenomenal care.

Jamie Jaquay, RN, is a supervisor at Good Shepherd and has worked closely with Mercer. She says he comes in on a daily basis to see patients.

“I think he’s very caring, he appreciates the staff, treats us as equals and he’s just a wonderful person. He deserves any award he gets because he’s a truly caring person who puts his patients first.”

Jamie Jaquay, RN – Supervisor, Good Shepherd Nursing Home

One of Mercer’s programs, “Joe Too Cool to Smoke”, was created to teach children about the dangers of smoking. In his youth, Mercer was a cartoonist. His favorite comic strip was “Peanuts” and he envisioned using Peanuts character Snoopy in his anti-smoking campaign geared towards younger children.

He reached out to Charles Schulz’s son, Craig, for approval to use the character Snoopy. The organization rarely approves the use of any “Peanuts” characters, but Schulz gave his blessing.

Jeannie Schulz, widow of cartoonist Charles Schulz, said in a press release that Mercer’s incorporation of Snoopy in his project was the “perfect, non-commercial way” to use the character.

Mercer was also recognized for his street medicine program “Project HOPE”, which stands for Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort. Created in 2006, the project aims to provide care for people who are in homeless shelters and those living on the streets. The Project HOPE team includes Mercer, Crystal Bauer, RN, Tom Wack, MD, Steve Przybysz, MD, Maryanne Capp, DNP and many volunteers. Together, the team provides basic medical care, food, water and clothing to the homeless in need.

Mercer was born in Wheeling, W. Va., and raised in Warwood. He studied at West Liberty State College and West Virginia University. He’s been married to his wife Gigi for 41 years, and together they have four children: Chris, Steve, Andy and Taylor.