As I reflect on my journey over the past 16 years being a registered nurse, 13 of which with Hospice of the Panhandle, the resounding consistency in my heart and soul is the mission to help others, particularly those with life-limiting and advanced illness.
I grew up becoming a caregiver for my mom at the age of 10. Both of my parents were in the helping profession, so caring for people is just what we did. Making the decision to become a nurse naturally felt like the perfect fit. I feel that it is my calling to help people and their loved ones have the best possible experience despite the difficult circumstances they face. As I have grown in my career, I may spend less time at the bedside, but that patient and their loved ones are always at the forefront of my mind. The work that we do within Hospice of the Panhandle is so meaningful and has so much impact! The opportunity to lead these continued efforts is one of the greatest honors I have been given.
We have the privilege to help people at one of the most vulnerable times of their lives. We get to be a comforting, guiding, and supportive presence. We have the opportunity to promote quality of life as people face diminishing quantity. We help our patients make the most of life they have left, on their terms.
When I tell people that I work for Hospice of the Panhandle, I inevitably get asked “How do you do the work”? My response is consistently, how can I not? There is something to be said for going to work each day to do something about which you are passionate and believe in wholeheartedly.
As I have progressed through a series of leadership roles over the last 10 years, I always knew that if given the opportunity, I would proudly and gratefully accept the ultimate leadership reasonability as the CEO. I have learned so much from so many talented and knowledgeable mentors, co-workers, and industry counterparts. Some of the greatest lessons have been taught by those patients for whom I have cared. Lessons about life and living that have helped shape me into the person I am today.
It is truly an honor and a privilege to lead the dedicated employees and volunteers of this great organization who are steadfast in their commitment to provide outstanding care and compassionate support to the deserving and precious people living and dying in this community. I am beyond excited to build upon what legacy CEO Margaret Cogswell has created. I am dedicated to building upon the well known and trusted reputation and standard of care for which Hospice of the Panhandle is known and respected.
Our mission – to provide compassionate care to those with life-limiting illness and to assist families and caregivers – has always and will always be our guiding light. It is truly our North Star, ensuring that every decision we make has the best interest of those we serve at the forefront. Margaret has instilled this light in Hospice of the Panhandle’s culture and it continues to shine brightly.
We will continue to explore new opportunities to expand the mission of providing the highest level of hospice and palliative services to this community we call home.
Nikki Bigiarelli became Hospice of the Panhandle’s second CEO on June 1. She has served as a nurse, a nurse manager, an assistant clinical director, clinical director and most recently, chief clinical officer at Hospice. She has been at the agency since 2010.