KEARNEYSVILLE – Hospice of the Panhandle has joined the National Partnership for Healthcare and Hospice Innovation (NPHI), a national nonprofit collaborative that focuses on high quality care for patients in the last stages of life.

NPHI, which is made up of 85 plus not-for-profit, community-integrated hospice and palliative care providers, is dedicated to ensuring patients and their families have access to high quality care. Hospice of the Panhandle CEO Margaret Cogswell said she is excited to join such a dynamic and innovative group of hospice and palliative care organizations.

“We believe this is a great fit for us,” said Cogswell, who has been at the helm at Hospice of the Panhandle for 35 years. “We know that we will reap great benefits from collaborating and networking with our colleagues who work in the nonprofit hospice and palliative care environment.”

NPHI believes the end-of-life care patients and their families receive should reflect their individual goals, values, and preferences. Together, members across the country define the standards of hospice care and guide patients and families through the final stages of life.

“I think we were looking for a group of other professionals who believe in the mission and values of their organizations, with the focus on taking the best possible care of patients and families,” Cogswell said. “It is always encouraging to find like-minded professionals – and to interact with them – there is so much value in that networking.”

NPHI members are committed to person-centered advanced illness care that ensures individuals can focus on quality and comfort at the last stage of life. The pillars of organizational excellence, strategic engagement, and data collection and quality initiatives allow NPHI members the opportunity to build relationships, share best practices, and educate national thought leaders and decision-makers on the value of strengthening hospice care delivery. Driven by patient and family needs – not profit – members work to fundamentally change how people and institutions view end-of-life care, and instead, help people live as well as possible until they die.

Hospice of the Panhandle Chief Clinical Officer Nikki Bigiarelli has already taken advantage of that networking through a series of Zoom meetings where she’s met other clinical officers across the country.

“Even though this is a relatively new networking group for us, I can see how it’s going to be very valuable moving forward,” Bigiarelli said.

Hospice of the Panhandle was founded in 1980 by a committed group of volunteers in Berkeley County, who began their work as part of a ministry at Trinity Episcopal Church in Martinsburg. It has grown from serving 10 patients that first year, to close to 1,200 in 2021. Hospice of the Panhandle cares for residents of Berkeley, Morgan, Jefferson and Hampshire counties primarily in their homes, but also in the agency’s 14-bed, eight-year-old inpatient facility, as well as in area nursing homes and assisted living. Hospice employs nearly 150 nurses, aides, social workers, chaplains and administrative staff. Nearly 160 volunteers spend time with patients, providing friendly visits and doing light chores and helping with administrative tasks.

Representing providers from 31 states and the District of Columbia, NPHI and its members help design innovative and effective models of care, advocate for comprehensive and community-integrated care customized to meet each person’s needs, and build collaboration among national thought leaders, decision-makers, and other healthcare stakeholders to improve hospice care. For more information about NPHI visit For more information about Hospice of the Panhandle, contact 304-264-0406, or visit