Connecting the community
“We are here to care for you” is the core message Mary Chigos takes to potential patients and their families.
“Mission Hospice & Home Care has three key programs supporting patients in the last year of life: Hospice, Advanced Care, and Transitions. The name of the program you’re in isn’t important,” said Chigos, the agency’s director of clinical outreach. “The important thing is that you get the care that’s appropriate for you and your loved ones.”
Chigos, a long-time Mission Hospice Board of Directors member and former board president, took over the position in August 2011 to increase communication with local health care institutions and physician offices.
It’s a territory well known to Chigos, a former nurse practitioner whose late husband, Andy, was a Peninsula obstetrician-gynecologist. The couple met when he visited an innovative women’s health program in Southern California where she was practicing.
Born in Kansas City, she moved to California in 1968. After marrying, Chigos became a fixture in the community, serving on the Hillsborough Board of Education and on the board of the auxiliary of Community Gatepath, a program for developmentally disabled children and adults. She and Andy had five children in addition to his four daughters. Chigos has 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She joined the Mission Hospice board in 2002 at the invitation of former board member Elaine Cohen, although she didn’t know that much about Mission Hospice at the time.
“My mom died of lung cancer when I was 25,” she said. “The more I learned later on, the more I lamented that we hadn’t had the opportunity for hospice. I think it would have made a huge difference for our family.”
She’s also chaired the development committee since joining the board and is grateful for the continued support of the local community.
“Any time you’re raising money, it’s a challenge,” she said. “The struggle for the donated dollar is very difficult because there are so many competing needs. We have to educate the public that even though Medicare and insurance include hospice care, the benefit doesn’t cover everything.”
For the past two years, Chigos also has been very involved in developing a hospice house for patients whose end-of-life comfort and care cannot be managed in their own homes. For her, the hospice house would fulfill the dream to provide a complete continuum of care for patients.
“I tell people, this is not about death,” she said. “The compassionate, dignified care Mission Hospice provides honors the patient’s life and supports them through their journey. Our motto has long been ‘It’s about life’.”