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Independence Blue Cross announces winners of Celebrate Caring campaign to recognize outstanding nurses

By May 6, 2020July 17th, 2020Community Featured Press Releases
from l-r top row: Kemberly Giron, Felix Jones, Andrea Kirsch, bottom l-r: Stacey Lang, Jeff Salvatore

Top row (L-R): Kemberly Mayer, Felix Jones, Andrea Kirsch. Bottom row (L-R): Stacey Lang, Jeff Salvatore

Over 1,100 nominations were submitted in the second year of the popular campaign

Philadelphia, PA — May 6, 2020 — Independence Blue Cross (Independence) kicks off National Nurses Week, May 6-12, with the announcement of its 2020 Celebrate Caring winners and honorees. Celebrate Caring recognizes outstanding nurses in the Greater Philadelphia region.

The nurses being recognized were chosen from over 1,100 nominations submitted by co-workers, patients, family, friends, and neighbors. The winners and honorees represent a variety of health care settings across the region.

Winners can designate a $2,500 donation to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is meaningful to them. Their stories will be featured by Independence and its media partners, 6abc and iHeartRadio. Independence has also coordinated with the nurses’ employers and nominators to surprise them with the news. They will receive flowers, gift cards, food deliveries to worksites, and a commemorative plaque.

Daniel J. Hilferty, Independence CEO, also recorded a special “thank you” message for the winners and honorees: “Our Celebrate Caring honorees this year include nurses on the front lines of COVID-19. And they include nurses meeting the time-honored challenges of the profession, helping patients at every stage of life. Congratulations to our winners, finalists, and nominees. And to every nurse who gives everything they have to this incredible profession.”

“Independence initially launched Celebrate Caring to recognize the ‘unsung’ heroes of health care: nurses,” said Paula Sunshine, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Independence. “Now, as we fight a pandemic, the world is united in its appreciation of frontline health care workers. This campaign to honor their dedication and caring has become even more meaningful.”


  • Kem Mayer, BSN, RN, is a bilingual nurse on a designated COVID-19 floor at Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia. Her nominations said she demonstrates caring, commitment, and advocacy for her fellow nurses, patients, and the community.
  • Felix Jones, BSN, RN, was nominated for his work as a rehab nurse at Good Shepherd Penn Partners and a nurse in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. Jones also volunteers with youth through the Department of Health Services’ Boy’s and Girl’s Track Programs and the nonprofit RECLAIM U.
  • Andrea Kirsch, RN, CRNP, was nominated by a patient at Women for Women OB/GYN in Wynnewood, PA, who was touched by Kirsch’s compassion throughout the patient’s challenging journey to become a parent.
  • Stacey Lang, RN, BSN, CMSRN, was nominated for making a lasting impact for the family of a dying patient at Lehigh Valley Hospital – Muhlenberg. Lang bought greeting cards for every major life event and helped her patient create special messages to leave behind for his daughter.
  • Jeff Salvatore, MSN, RN, CCRN-CMC, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, leads a team of float nurses, now known as the “Swab Squad,” charged with running the COVID-19 mobile testing site at the hospital’s Center City campus. Jeff’s team rallied behind him to submit several nominations for Celebrate Caring, pointing to his unmatched positivity and leadership during a crisis.


  • Len Capone, RN, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine
  • Michaela Corcoran, RN, BSN, Pediatric Specialty Care at Point Pleasant
  • Kim Kristoff, BSN, RN, CBC, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Dominica Leisey, RN, BSN, Holy Redeemer Hospital, Meadowbrook, PA
  • Andrea Lindley, RN, BSN, SICU RN, Temple University Hospital
  • Christina Ryan, RN, CPTC, Gift of Life, Philadelphia, PA
  • Laetitia Simeral, RN, MSN, CRNP, Abramson Cancer Center, Penn Medicine
  • Laura Smith, RN, BSN, DON, Barclay Friends in West Chester, PA
  • Edward Welsh, RN, Jefferson Frankford Hospital, Jefferson Health – Northeast

Celebrate Caring is a multimedia campaign designed to honor nurses, Independence continues to work diligently to support members, health care providers, and the community at large during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information about the company’s response to COVID-19, visit

For more on Celebrate Caring, visit or follow #CelebrateCaring on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Media contact:
Britni Zahodnick
908-451-7521 (mobile)