Regional chief nursing executive announces retirement from Covenant Health

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Baggerly served the Covenant Health System for more than 40 years

Image provided by Covenant Health

LUBBOCK, Texas– A regional chief nursing executive announced her retirement with Covenant Health Thursday after nearly 40 years with the health system, a news release confirmed.

Karen Baggerly announced her retirement will officially take place January 8, according to the release.

She started her career with Covenant Health in 1976 at Methodist Hospital as an overnight SICU RN.

Read the full news release for more details on Baggerly’s dedication to Covenant Health below:

LUBBOCK, TX- After more than 40 years with the Covenant Health system, Regional Chief Nursing Executive Karen Baggerly will retire on January 8, 2022.

Baggerly started her career with Covenant Health in 1976 at Methodist Hospital as an overnight SICU RN.

“I learned quickly how to care for trauma, neurosurgical, and cardiac surgery patients since Methodist was the community’s primary center at that time,” Baggerly recalls. “We worked standard eight-hour schedules with one weekend off a month, so I also learned early that my co-workers were my family. Three years later I transferred to the day shift, eventually assuming the Charge Nurse role.”

Eventually, Baggerly’s hard work helped her earn the title of Nurse Manager- a position she called her favorite role.

“My career aspirations were never aimed toward administration,” Baggerly said. “I planned to become a CRNA eventually but fell in love with intensive care and its challenges. I also realized the importance of patient and family interactions in nursing, and I needed that. I became a Nurse Manager because I wanted to make a difference for those I worked with on the unit. I vowed never to forget the value of the direct caregiver in making decisions as a leader. Nor did I have aspirations to advance to Nursing Director or CNO until the opportunities presented themselves. Once again, I just hoped I could make a difference for my nursing colleagues and our practice at the bedside.”

Some advice Baggerly would give to her younger self is to “look at the ‘big picture’ of health care earlier in my career.” It was that ‘big picture’ outlook that eventually helped her seek Magnet designation for Covenant Medical Center. A goal she achieved in August 2020.

A Magnet designated hospital is a reflection of its nursing professionalism, teamwork, and superiority in patient care. The American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet Recognition Program® distinguishes organizations that meet rigorous standards for nursing excellence.

The honor would come in the midst of one of the greatest health care challenges in a century.

“A lot of joy and sadness these last two years for sure,” Baggerly shared. “Reflecting on the impact of HIV/AIDS, it took several years for health care to recover and discover a new normal for care delivery. Fortunately, we rebounded quicker after H1N1 and Ebola, but it still took time. I’m sure the healing process post-pandemic will last several years. My greatest sorrow with the COVID pandemic is the detrimental impact it’s had on our caregivers and the downstream effect on staffing. I do sometimes feel a little guilty about retiring now when we have substantial challenges ahead, but I am confident that my successors will handle them with wisdom and courage.”

Baggerly said family obligations are a large part of why she chose now to retire. She also wishes to eventually travel once COVID subsides but names her work family as one of the reasons why she stayed with the organization for as long as she has.

“I genuinely consider my colleagues my family and it has been that way for 45 years,” Baggerly said. “I always had hope, even during the merger and subsequent mishaps, that nursing would continue to do the “right thing” for the patient. The mission and values of this organization are embedded in me, and I was proud that we cared for those patients’ others would not.”

When it comes to her fellow caregivers, Baggerly has nothing but admiration for them all.

“Thanks for a great ride!” Baggerly exclaimed. “I have learned so much about life, faith, and compassion from all of you. To my supervisors, I know I wasn’t a model employee, but you gave me grace and encouragement. To my immediate team, you blessed me with amazing support, understanding, and “one more round” year after year. To my nursing colleagues, your dedication to quality and compassionate patient care made my job easy, thank you. I consider myself the luckiest person in the world for having had the opportunity to serve at Covenant for 45 years. Be kind to one another and smile, and most importantly, keep the faith.”

Covenant Health will announce its new Regional Chief Nursing Executive in the upcoming weeks.

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