Celebrate Caring award winners - meet Jeff Salvatore

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Friday, May 29, 2020

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- Since the pandemic began, nurses have been navigating a new world of medicine. And they're doing it in so many ways. Independence Blue Cross launched Celebrate Caring, to honor these leaders. Health reporter and registered nurse Ali Gorman introduces us to another winner.

In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Jefferson University Hospital's Swab Squad became an Instagram sensation, bringing much-needed smiles to millions of viewers.

But the Swab Squad's main mission was serious: testing for coronavirus infections.

"When we first started, people were terrified, people thought that just by coming to get tested that they were going to get exposed," recalls Jeff Salvatore, clinical nurse specialist who led the group.

In that Center City parking lot, Salvatore's team answered many questions and calmed a lot of fears about this new danger.

It's what he likes most about nursing.

"Although you can't always control the outcome and make it a happy ending, you can at least provide some comfort and relief," says Salvatore.

He initially wanted to be a doctor, but after talking over the professions with his parents, decided he loved the education involved in nursing.

He applies that educational mission in treating patients, as well as with his fellow nurses.

Personal job experiences have made him committed to preventing nurse burnout.

In fact, it's the subtle message beneath the Swab Squad's dance routines - everyone needs stress relief, even in stressful time.

"The more you're in a position where you're taking care of yourself, you're able to take better care of your patients, you're going to be working with a clear mind, which means you are less likely to make mistakes," says Salvatore.

Koleen Cavanaugh, vice-president of marketing for Independence Blue Cross, says Jeff and all the honorees truly lead by example.

"We are shining a spotlight in nursing in a way to inspire people to really take that career path, which we think is vitally important as well," says Kavanaugh.

This year, the campaign received more than 1100 nominations covering every imaginable field of nursing.

And Cavanaugh says that's great evidence that IBC's mission to shine the spotlight on the "unsung heroes of health care" is being realized.