Submitted by Providence Medical Group
The No One Dies Alone (NODA) program was started at Providence St. Peter Hospital in 2009 to provide individuals with a dignified and compassionate death. Vigils are available day and night, providing bedside companionship for dying patients who are alone. The program provides relief to family members or friends who need to take time away to rest or manage other responsibilities. The program is supported by generous donations to Providence St. Peter Foundation.
Program volunteers Pam Folsom and Patty Thorsen recently did an interview on Dash Radio (DashRadio.com/FutureofHealth), which is now available to listen to any time on Anchor.FM. Click here to listen to the conversation.
“Sometimes the patient who is passing shares a home, and the loved one needs to go and feed the pets and take care of the bills during this long-term illness and they are so appreciate someone is there,” said Folsom about why a NODA volunteer might be called in.
There are about 500 NODA- type programs in the United States, and each one functions independently.
Providence Centralia Hospital added the program in 2018. All told in Providence Southwest, the NODA program served 650 patients in 2018, which entailed 3,365 volunteer hours.
Folsom and Thorsen agree NODA supports both the patient and their family:
- For a variety of reasons such as time and distance, some family members are simply unable to make it to the hospital to visit their dying loved one. For other family members, they are by themselves and need a physical, mental, and emotional rest after several bedside sitting hours.
- Some patients purely have no family to visit them. Some are no longer able to see or hear, and just need the gentle touch of a hand to know they are not alone. NODA make sure the patient feels and hears them. This helps the patient feel emotionally and physically comfortable.
Each volunteer shift is about four hours, and multiple volunteers can be called in if a loved one needs a longer break.
“There are so many reasons why we might be called in, but all of them are important,” said Thorsen. “And when we are able to give someone a break, with the assurance their loved one will be cared for and someone will be with them all the time … they are so appreciative.”
Volunteers are always welcome. To become a volunteer, reach out to the Spiritual Care Department at Providence St. Peter Hospital. The minimum age for volunteers is 16-year-old, though typically the program gets volunteers who are 18 and over. Each volunteer receives substantial training.
Continue to stream the Providence Future of Health station on DashRadio.com/FutureofHealth to learn more on this topic and others.