Despite the unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing we could count on was that nurses continued to make extraordinary sacrifices and contributions daily. For the fourth year, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) is proud to recognize outstanding nurses in our region through our Celebrate Caring campaign.
Independence has chosen three winners, two honorees, and seven finalists from hundreds of nominations by family, friends, coworkers, and patients. These nurses exhibit exceptional dedication to their patients and their families and spread compassion and hope daily. As we look forward to a brighter future, we proudly say, “Thank you.”
Meet the seven finalists and learn why these nurses are deserving of this special recognition.
Louis E. Bellace, RN, BSN, MS, PHRN, CFRN, CEN, CMTE, Clinical IV, Nemours Children’s Health
Louis has had a dynamic nursing career, spanning across various areas. As a colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves, commander of the 514th ASTS, and former flight nurse, he has cared for some of the sickest and badly wounded soldiers in our armed forces. Currently, he works on the Pediatric Critical Care Transport team at Nemours Children’s Health helping children who need specialty care, in addition to working on Penn Star, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania’s Transport Program. Louis is an Emergency Medical Services volunteer and serves as a flight instructor and mentor for aspiring flight nurses.
His nominator noted: He has been serving and caring for patients, which has been his purpose in life since he was a teenager. During the pandemic he went to work every day on the front lines and came home to help me take care of my mother who had cancer and eventually passed away in our living room. He is truly a great nurse.
Gretchen Ennis, RN, St. Christopher’s Pediatric Associates
For nearly 48 years, Gretchen has dedicated herself to vulnerable patients and their families. She is the second longest-serving nurse at St. Christopher’s. During COVID-19, Gretchen went above and beyond for her patients, supplying water and healthy snacks to children in need.
Her nominator recalled how she comforted a new mother after the tragic loss of the newborn’s father: The mother felt the significant loss during the provider’s visit, becoming very emotional. Gretchen stayed with the mother and newborn, listening to stories of the baby’s father and looking at pictures. At no time did the mother feel rushed to leave the facility and provided wonderful feedback about her new experience with her new health care team. Gretchen is an excellent example of how nurses demonstrate kindness and compassion.
Dr. Nishelle Harris-Hines has worked in a variety of roles in her career as a nurse, including surgical quality nurse, controlled substance coordinator, and children’s nurse. But there is one constant: She strives to be a catalyst for change in health care by educating underserved communities about disparities in health, and many of her most recent efforts have been COVID-19 focused. Nishelle is President of Black Nurses Rock (BNR) Delaware, where she volunteers to educate, test, and vaccinate those living in vulnerable communities. During the pandemic, she and several BNR Delaware nurses partnered with the Psi Iota Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. to provide meals to the night shift staff at four area hospitals’ emergency and ICU departments.
Her nominator said: She did this all while being a wife, mother, and student. She continues to volunteer with the awesome nurses of BNR after she gets off work and on weekends to support other organizations to vaccinate individuals throughout the state of Delaware and still two years later, she continues to support the vulnerable.
Chanel Hart, MSN, RN, Jefferson Family & Community Medicine
In addition to being an amazing nurse, Chanel is a social justice advocate who is vocal about diversity, equity, and inclusion in nursing. She is a devoted member of the social justice and diversity and inclusion groups at her health system and is a member of the Jefferson Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion Council. Chanel also won third place for an essay in The Philadelphia Inquirer on racism in nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her nominator said: She has facilitated a COVID vaccine site, tested people outside in the cold, and she also coordinates the suboxone clinic in her office, helping those that are recovering from drugs…My mom is a social justice advocate, outstanding nurse, and a #1 mom.
Shantia McCoy-Jones, MSN, RN, CRNP, CWCN, PhD (candidate), Corporal Michael Crescenz VA Medical Center
As a Wound and Education Specialist, the Veterans Affairs’ (VA) leading subject matter expert for pressure injury (PI) prevention and a PhD candidate, Shantia consistently seeks ways to improve the patient experience. She assisted in the development of a mobile app that provides veterans and caregivers timely PI prevention information, management education, and resources, and is currently collaborating with skin/wound subject matter experts at the VA’s National Artificial Intelligence Institute and National Simulation program to develop education and training on topics related to addressing health disparities in assessing darker pigmented skin.
Her nominator recalled Shantia helping her son after he was bitten by a dog: Within five minutes of meeting Shantia, you would understand why she is beloved and respected by patients, students, colleagues, and friends…My young son was bitten by a dog while visiting family and experiencing pain. I called Shantia and in her loving way she said, “Calm down and bring him to me.” Her quick action helped to heal my son’s wounds with less discomfort.
Paul Robinson, RN, ANS Infusion Inc.
Paul is director of Nursing and owner of ANS Infusion Inc., and has extensive experience as an infusion nurse, providing in-home infusion services to patients. Paul’s nominator reflects on the difference he has made in his chronically ill daughter’s life.
His nominator wrote: Paul has been a lifeline for our whole family. He has met my daughter wherever she needs help, including our home, her college dorm, and even the hospital room when I needed special training for the home infusions she would be getting. He has been available to me and my daughter by phone at all hours of the day and night. We have FaceTimed about her port or infusions. He has talked me through many concerns and has made emergency visits to our house when he couldn’t solve the issue over the phone. I have no doubt that he saved us from many trips to the ER…I sincerely believe that Paul has made my daughter’s life much better.
Allen Staltmayer, BNS, RN, CMSRN, Capital Health Regional Medical Center (Trenton)
Allen is an extraordinary nurse with over 20 years of experience. Not only does he go above and beyond for his patients and their families, but he also has an immense impact on fellow colleagues, which impacts the way they care for their patients.
His nominator noted: Allen touches the lives of his fellow nurses, doctors, and patients without even trying. He just wants everyone to have a good day. Being nice and thinking of others is his “superpower.” Allen brought happiness and comfort to all during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this will continue to be his norm.
Allen’s support and nursing passion helped support patients he was not even caring for by positively changing the day that their nurse or doctor was having, therefore changing the care they provided that patient. All hospitals need a nurse like Allen at their hospital to promote positive care and happiness, and to support staff in a way that cannot be taught anywhere!
Congratulations to all the Celebrate Caring finalists! We thank you for going above and beyond every day.