Nurses perform critical and meaningful work each day — they help keep our families and communities safe and healthy.
Independence Blue Cross (Independence) recognizes the key role nurses play, and we’re proud to shine a light on outstanding nurses in the region through our Celebrate Caring campaign. For the fifth year, we’ve chosen three winners and seven finalists from hundreds of nominations.
Meet the seven finalists to learn what makes them deserving of this special recognition.
Carla P. Clements, PhD, CRNP
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center
Carla is passionate about making sure people have access to the health care they need to thrive. At work, she is responsible for connecting vulnerable veterans with telehealth services to help them manage chronic health conditions. Outside of work, Dr. Clements is an advocate for the community. She has presented several community and patient educational sessions on heart health, hypertension in the African American community, and sun protection for people of color. Most recently, she presented a documentary screening and panel discussion, “Listen to Black Mammas,” on the maternal mortality crisis in New Jersey.
Carla’s nominator had this to say about her: “Despite her numerous accomplishments, Dr. Clements remains graceful and humble. Her focus is always the patient, ensuring they have access to health care. Dr. Clements is truly the epitome of a nurse who is passionate about her family, patients, colleagues, and the future of nursing.”
Sophia Collins, RN, MSN
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Sophia is passionate about giving back to her community and is a strong advocate for equity in health care. During the height of the pandemic, she led community COVID-19 vaccine clinics with the School District of Philadelphia and many community-based organizations to ensure all children had equitable access to the vaccine. Sophia designed and implemented the CHOP Nursing High School Pathway Program, which promotes nursing as a career path to local high school students, especially young men from communities of color. The goal is to increase diversity in the nursing profession to help deliver culturally competent care.
Her nominator said: “Sophia has been a relentless champion of the young men at Boys Latin High School. She is motivating and inspiring them to fulfill their dreams and persevere through any issues they may face. Sophia has introduced a group of young men to the opportunity to become health care professionals. She is an integral part of our community.”
Sarah DeChurch, RN, BSN
Paoli Hospital, Main Line Health
As a nurse in the labor and delivery unit for 15 years, Sarah has made a lasting impact on many new parents during one of the most important events in their lives — the birth of a child. In addition to her clinical knowledge, she is known for her ability to make patients feel comfortable and at ease. One nominator noted how Sarah displayed compassion and understanding by taking her newborn baby to the nursery to allow her the chance to catch some sleep after a long delivery. Another nominator praised Sarah for helping her avoid having surgery during childbirth, while also keeping her calm throughout a challenging situation.
Her nominator said: “Sarah’s compassion and empathy for her patients are what set her apart. She is a source of strength for families during tragic events, providing comfort and a listening ear when it is most needed. She also serves as a cheerleader during the happiest births, celebrating the joyous moments with patients and their families.”
Desiree DeVeau, BSN, RN, PCCN
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
As a nurse in the medical intensive care unit, Desiree is committed to making a difference in the lives of her patients and their families. She is equally focused on supporting her coworkers so that they can provide the best care to their patients. To boost morale and encourage camaraderie, Desiree started a staff recognition initiative where she collects notes written between peers about specific moments of caring and shares them within the unit. She has also organized volunteer opportunities for her coworkers to support the community — together, the group cooks tasty meals for families of organ donation recipients through the Gift of Life Donor Program in Philadelphia.
Her nominator commented: “She is an engaged nurse dedicated to providing the best care. She cultivates excellence in all she does by lifting up those around her. She is a true role model.”
Tracey Kirschner, RN
Holy Redeemer Hospital
Tracey became a nurse in 1995 and has worked in a variety of roles in the hospital setting, including pediatrics and the emergency room. Twelve years ago, she switched gears to work in the substance use treatment field and joined a nonprofit that works with people with addiction issues after learning her own son was struggling with addiction. Since then, she has become an advocate for her son and other parents dealing with the effects of substance use and addiction. In addition to her compassionate care at work, Tracey is helping to fight the opioid epidemic in her community. Her biggest accomplishment so far: Partnering with the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. to provide Narcan and first aid training to parents and family members.
Tracey’s daughter, her nominator, had this to say: “When our family was faced with my brother’s addiction, my mother saw firsthand the pain parents endure. It was at this time that my mom went to the county and asked for help, so parents would not feel helpless. That first Sunday they gave out Narcan and the very next day two people used it and saved people’s lives.”
Danielle Scarpitti, RN, MSN, CRRN
MossRehab Institute for Brain Health, Jefferson Health
For 23 years, Danielle was dedicated to helping patients with brain injury as a floor nurse. She is now bringing her extensive experience and commitment to compassionate care to a new program designed specifically for veterans and first responders with mild traumatic brain injury. In this role, she has gone above and beyond to support her patients and families, including inviting patients’ families who are far from home to her own family’s Christmas dinner and chairing The Brain Injury Challenge: Race for Recovery to raise funds and awareness for people with brain injuries.
Her nominator noted: “Danielle ensures that our special patient population is getting the care they need and deserve and is frequently taking on additional tasks as we build the team. After working with Danielle, I can’t think of a more deserving, caring, or hard-working nurse to receive this award, and the fact that she never wants recognition speaks volumes.”
Joe Staffieri, RN
While his nursing journey has taken him from the bedside to case management, one thing that remains the same is Joe’s commitment to compassionate care and excellence. In his current role, this is especially important as he works to provide the best possible care to neuro-diverse children and their families. He consistently goes the extra mile to support the children in his program, whether it’s learning their likes and dislikes to improve their health care experience, playing and singing music for them, purchasing essentials for kids when their families can’t afford it, or coordinating Trunk or Treat events on campus every year so that they don’t miss out on the fun of trick-or-treating.
His nominator noted: “Joe is always smiling, joking, and keeping things light even when faced with highly stressful situations. He brings people together and supports any initiative. Overall, he is a joy to work with and an advocate for those that need it the most.”
Congratulations to our 2023 Celebrate Caring finalists! Thank you for everything you do to help improve the health and well-being of our communities.