Now more than ever, Independence Blue Cross recognizes the invaluable role that nurses play in caring for our families and communities. To show our appreciation, we are honoring outstanding nurses in our region through the second annual Celebrate Caring campaign. As part of the campaign, we’re highlighting how our winners and honorees are making a difference in the community through compassion and superior care.
How a Kid From North Philadelphia Found His Purpose in Nursing
As an African-American male nurse, Felix Jones sees himself as an important role model for inner-city kids in Philadelphia. Born and raised in North Philly, he understood poverty at a young age, but always felt supported by his parents and community. Now, he’s passionate about to giving back through his role as a nurse and an advocate for youth.
In high school, Felix never imagined a career in health care. He excelled at sports and planned to attend college on a scholarship. When an injury interrupted those dreams, he decided to enlist in the United States Army. After four years of service, Felix knew he wanted to do more to help others, so he pursued a career in nursing.
“I wear my uniform like I wore it in the military,” Felix said, “I wear it proud, and I tell young people there are careers in health care and medicine for them.”
Felix is a rehab nurse at Good Shepherd Penn Partners and a nurse in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons. At Good Shepherd, he helps patients recover from all types of complex health issues — heart surgery, liver transplants, joint replacements, and spinal cord injuries. Felix also cares for victims of gun violence, which fuels his commitment to helping inner-city youth.
Empowering Inner-City Youth Through Volunteerism
Felix is passionate about empowering young people in Philadelphia. He volunteers with the Department of Health Services’ Boy’s and Girl’s Track Programs. He also regularly gives talks on health care topics like hygiene, sex education, mental health, and more, though his work with local nonprofit Reclaim U. He’s even brought former inmates to share their experiences with young people.
Caring for inmates in the city’s correctional facilities, Felix sees firsthand how poverty, drugs, and a lack of health care and education creates challenging circumstances for minorities in Philadelphia.
“I had one male inmate tell me that he’d never met a Black male nurse before. I got goosebumps,” Felix recalls.
Felix sees Independence Blue Cross’s Celebrate Caring campaign as a great way to share stories that can help inspire youth.
“Youth are constantly hearing the stories of rappers, hip-hop stars, and basketball players, so that’s the only thing they think they can do. We need to tell more stories about nurses,” he said, “and the frontline health care workers who put on a mask, a face shield, and a personal protective jumpsuit to work long shifts.”
“You’re sweating, the bridge of your nose and the back of your ears hurt where your mask sits, and you have to fight through this pandemic not knowing the outcome of a virus that we still don’t know everything about,” Felix said.
There have been over 20,000 cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia. Felix was one of them. He was out sick and under quarantine for weeks and felt helpless. When he recovered and was cleared to go back to work, he was thrilled. He couldn’t wait to get back to the frontlines, helping others.