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Celebrate Caring: An Independence Nurse’s Story

By April 2, 2020January 5th, 2021Celebrate Caring Community

Independence Blue Cross (Independence) recognizes the important role nurses play in health care and acknowledges their caring, compassion, and excellence. As part of the Celebrate Caring campaign, we’re highlighting our region’s most outstanding nurses — including those at Independence. We employ nearly 300 nurses in a variety of roles that serve our members. Here is one of their stories.

Do you know a nurse who deserves to be recognized for their tireless dedication? Nominate him or her at by April 3.

A passion for science — and for caring

Marcel Bentley, RN, BSN, was at a crossroads as a student at Widener University when his mother, a registered nurse, told him he should consider a career in nursing. His caring and compassionate nature, paired with his love of science, she thought, would make him a great nurse. Marcel had already tried majoring in engineering and chemistry, but something was missing.

“At the time, I didn’t see those things in myself. I figured everyone’s mom feels that way, but in hindsight she was right. I’ve never regretted it,” Marcel said.

Starting out in the Medical Surgical Unit at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ, Marcel always focused on good bedside manner. Now as a Health Coach at Independence, his ability to be kind, empathetic, and understanding when talking to members goes a long way.

“As a nurse, you’re seeing patients at their most vulnerable, and that’s an influential time for them. I try to listen and see how I can help or empower them to help themselves.”

Empowering patients through education

When Marcel transitioned from the hospital setting to home care nursing, he better understood the full picture of health.

“In the hospital, you can control a patient’s environment. But at home, you’re working with whatever’s in their fridge, how they’re managing their medications without someone bringing them in on a schedule.”

Other considerations, like the safety of their home, become increasingly important.

“You can be more impactful on their real-life situation when you meet them where they’re at and help from there. A major part of nursing is the skill to teach. Education can empower people to take better care of themselves. That’s my perspective on nursing in general — get people to a point where they understand what they’re doing and know how to advocate for themselves.”

Before joining Independence, Marcel gained experience as a nurse navigator at Community Hospital in Chester, PA, where he specialized in integrating mental health, physical health care, and substance use disorder.

“I did similarly what I’m doing now as a Health Coach,” he said. “Helping patients navigate the system and making sure everyone involved in their care is on the same page. It translates to better care and a better experience for the patient.”

Working as a Health Coach at Independence

Marcel has been at Independence since August of 2019. One of the beautiful aspects of nursing, he said, is how endless the possibilities are.

“You can go into so many specialties. Do a bit of everything, and you don’t have to do the same thing forever. When I came to Independence, I was ready to focus on the education side. The more I learned about the company, the more it felt like home.”

A day in the life of a Health Coach like Marcel involves a lot of outbound calls to members who need help with disease or case management, or who are transitioning care. Transitioning was one of Marcel’s favorite aspects of home care nursing.

“When patients are discharged from the hospital and get back home, there’s a lot of opportunity to help during recovery,” he said. “I ask a few questions over the phone to assess where the gaps in care are and fill those. I try to figure out how I can assist a member by way of education, support, or resources.”

Marcel wants every person he consults via telephone to know that he’s genuinely concerned for their well-being. He wants Independence members to know that he has their back.

“A gentleman the other day joked that he’d like to get together for a beer. It meant a lot to me that we’d established a connection that made him feel like I was a friend, someone who truly cared for him.”


Britni Zahodnick

Born and raised in Union, New Jersey, I moved to Philadelphia in 2018, drawn to its charm and excited to start my career at Independence. As Digital Communications Manager, I help create engaging content for our web and social channels with a focus on storytelling. I love to take advantage of all that Philly has to offer when it comes to food, fitness, and art.