Story by: Emily Jordan on July 20, 2023
Finding purpose in your life and in your work isn’t an easy task. For Felicia Gross, a food and nutrition supervisor at Norton Hospital and Norton Healthcare Pavilion, her purpose is clear.
Felicia has made it her life’s mission to give back and help those around her in any way she can. In her job, she does that through food.
“I’ve always been feeding somebody, so it made sense to join a place where I could help people through food. I’m always trying to do whatever I can to help as many people as I can,” Felicia said.
A unique pathway led her to a purpose-driven career at Norton Healthcare. She joined the organization over seven years ago after giving birth to her son.
“I ended up having my son pretty early, and during delivery we both almost died. He was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for five months, and it was a very intense time,” Felicia said. “The staff, nurses and doctors were understanding and diligent — even when my depression was popping up in regards to the whole situation. I can’t speak any more highly of them. They inspired me to want to come work here.”
Felicia gave special mention to Jennifer Turner, R.N., a NICU nurse at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, and Eric Kennerly, who was a food and nutrition services employee, for their inspiration and support during her son’s health journey.
To discover a career with purpose, visit NortonHealthcareCareers.com.
“His primary nurse in the NICU, Ms.Jennifer, was the first person who inspired me to work here. Her kindness and selflessness made such an impact on me,” Felicia said. “Then I met Mr. Eric when my son had his open heart surgery. Mr. Eric sadly passed away during COVID, but his impact on me and all those around him was immense. When I started working here and saw Mr. Eric again, he said, ‘I see you made it down here,’ and I told him, ‘Something just wouldn’t let me leave.’”
True to her purpose, Felicia made it her mission to give back to those who helped save her life and her son’s. She started by getting a job in the cafeteria at Norton Hospital and then expanded her horizons.
“Every Christmas, my family and I do a giveback for the NICU at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital. It’s coming out of our own pockets, so we do what we can, with what we have,” Felicia said.
They have donated special baby swings, stethoscopes, hand mirrors and more to the NICU.
“Eventually we want to start a little nonprofit for my son so we can expand our givebacks,” Felicia said. “We’re just so incredibly grateful for how many times they have helped save his life.”
Felicia has three “bonus kids” and her biological son, Isaiah, who is on the autism spectrum. Felicia is constantly learning new ways to support him.
“We are trying to let him have his independence, but not let his independence get him into trouble,” Felicia said. “I’m learning how to take care of him as well as advocate for him.”
Throughout her life, Felicia has found ways to give back to those around her using her own experiences to relate. The patchwork of her life is stitched together with beautiful memories, but it’s not without its hardships and dark moments.
“I’ve experienced so much ugliness and lost a lot of people in different ways,” Felicia said. “Usually the people that I end up being drawn to, I’ve gone through what they’re going through. From cancer to hospice, preterm birth to miscarriage, suicide to car accidents. I get ahold of them, and want them to know I am there to help and support, whether it be giving out my phone number or just giving them a hug.
“Help is heavy on my heart, and I’ve been that way my whole life.”
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