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Volunteers make sure 'No One Dies Alone'
Patients sometimes die in our hospital. Some have friends and family to help them pass. For others, the realities of life may mean that they have no one to offer comfort and companionship in their final moments. The program works like this: If it appears that a patient is in their final 72 hours of life, hospital staff can contact Volunteer Services, who then reach out to volunteers who have received specialized training in end of life care from pastoral staff and arrange to for them to be at the bedside.
NODA volunteers are available no matter the time of day.
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- Medical Center volunteers comfort terminally ill patients who have no one else;
- No One Dies Alone.
Alexander Gunn is one of the 32 trained volunteers currently with the program. The first time I did it, I was thinking about when my grandmother passed. Most of the patients Gunn has encountered have been unresponsive — as are many of the patients NODA volunteers are called upon to visit with — but he says he does his best to make sure they know he is there.
Companionship and Dignity: No One Dies Alone
Cadle says that this kind of attention can be meaningful not just for the patient but also for their family. It matters. To be allowed to be in that space, to be invited into that space. And our volunteers recognize that.
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Heidi Gessner, MDiv, BCC, who currently coordinates NODA for the pastoral care department, says that programs like this demonstrate that we recognize there is more to these people than their diagnosis and its progression. A lot of our volunteers are former hospice nurses, physicians, medical students, people who are natural caregivers and have been their whole lives.
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