“I’m honored to have the opportunity to grow in the new clinical coordinator hospice position and I’m committed to continuing to be a positive and valuable asset to the Paradigm Health team and ultimately for our patients and their families.”
Paradigm Health’s recently promoted Clinical Coordinator Hospice, Kristin Cicenas, always thought she would be a forensic pathologist. She lost her parents and grandparents and had been through the grief journey herself at a very young age. Maybe in response to her earlylosses, her goal was to understand the dying process from the other side through pathology studies and she was hoping to provide the answers to the “why” death happened that so many of us have.
“I worked in my teens on the weekends as a greeter at a funeral home,” shares Cicenas. “I suffered my own losses at a very young age, and I knew what these people were feeling and the grief they were working through. I was drawn to providing care and support for them. I decidedI was interested in continuing to work in the funeral home industry instead of following the forensic pathology path.”
Cicenas attended mortuary school and became a licensed funeral director. After working as a funeral director for six years, she knew she was missing the hands-on care that she was discovering she wanted to include in her career. She soon found herself back at school to obtainher nursing degree. After gaining her degree in 2015, Cicenas worked in a hospital medical surgery unit for about a year and along the way realized she had a passion for hospice care.
“It seemed like a perfect merge of the two careers,” says Cicenas. “I had a background in grief support and had a lot of personal losses and I related and could empathize on a very deep level with the hospice patients and their families. It truly seemed like a calling for me.”
After working in a hospital caregiving setting, Cecenas then found herself working for a hospice care company that allowed her to hone her nursing skills. Coming from a family of nurses and caregivers, she realized this was the right profession for her. She continued working in hospice care as she started her family but realized that something was missing.
“I met hospice nurse Meredith Briles through my previous job. She was constantly talking about how wonderful it was to work for Paradigm Health, Cicenas shares. “Meredith was always sharing how much Paradigm invested in their staff and their wellbeing. I knew this philosophy of staff care was not the industry norm and was very drawn to a culture like that.”
A little over a year ago, Cicenas came on board with Paradigm Health as a case manager and has never looked back. Over the past year she has routinely managed a substantial case load making visits, managing patient’s pain, medications and comfort levels, helped to coordinate appointments and interdisciplinary needs, and pinpoint any other assistance a hospice patient and their family may need help with that seemed a bit beyond their control.
“It is rewarding to help families navigate the hospice journey and let them know they are not doing this alone,” Cicenas says. “I’ve been deeply engaged with patients and families and I know that this shift to clinical coordinator hospice for Paradigm Health is going to give me the opportunity to share all I’ve learned with the Paradigm hospice care team.”
The new role at Paradigm Health has offered Cicenas the opportunity to take all she’s learned in the field and share it with those that will be hands-on with patients and interacting with families. And, she says, it won’t be the hands-on, day-to-day care she is used to, but she is committed to making sure her case managers are supported and are treated well just like she was when out in the field.
“I know that Paradigm Health is putting a lot of trust in me and I am honored to begin this new role,” says Cicenas. “I know that beyond the physical care that hospice care has to have — at its heart what can be just as important — is an active and compassionate listening ear. I use a lot of humor when I can to lighten a situation with patients and families and make them smile. That is something that is a part of the hospice journey as well as the physical hands-on care.”
When not at work, Cicenas stays busy with her husband and family and she participates in a soft ball league. In high school, she was an avid athlete participating in softball, volleyball, basketball and cross country. She admits, she’s not one to sit still for very long. A perfectionist at heart, Cicenas says she’s never felt more supported in a job and is intent on making a positive impact for Paradigm Health and ultimately for their hospice patients and families.
“Like I said before, I come from a family of nurses,” says Cicenas. “And, they used to tell me that the day you think you know everything is the day you no longer need to be a nurse. I take that to heart and know no matter how much experience and education I have, I need to be in a learning mode every day. I have very high hopes for myself and, in the process, I hope to become a valuable and positive asset to the Paradigm team.”