Henderson, Nevada – No one is born alone, and in the best of circumstances, no one dies alone. Yet, from time to time, terminally ill patients come to Dignity Health St. Rose Dominican hospital who have neither family nor close friends who are able to be with them as they near the end of life. A pilot project, No One Dies Alone (NODA), was begun at the San Martin Campus and expanded to the Siena Campus.
NODA is a national volunteer program that provides the reassuring presence of a volunteer companion to dying patients who would otherwise be alone. With the support of the nursing staff, volunteers give patients the most valuable human gift – a dignified death in the comforting presence of another.
This type of volunteer work requires a special individual with the right nature – someone willing to share their strength, compassion, and respect to comfort and soothe a patient during their final journey. A team of volunteers is on call each week, ready to serve at someone’s bedside and provide coverage, in three-hour segments, when needed.
Nursing skills are not necessary, although some NODA volunteers are retired health care professionals. Volunteers are willing to comfort the patient by holding their hands, playing music, reading to them, or assisting with their physical comfort as requested by the patient or directed by the nurse. NODA volunteers do not provide actual nursing care during the vigil but assist only as a companion. Supply bags containing a CD player and other helpful items are available for volunteers to use during their vigils with patients.
NODA volunteers participate in orientation and training sessions, where they learn the art of being compassionately present at the bedside of a dying person. Thirteen volunteers have been trained at St. Rose since November 2015 for this pilot project. More are expected to be trained at some point.
In harmony with Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican’s values, NODA recognizes each person as a unique expression of life and the presence of vulnerability in loneliness. NODA brings people together in compassionate service and commitment to human kindness.
Feature photo: Volunteers for the No One Dies Alone program are, from left::Natasha Meinecke, Debi Long, Sister Vicki Dalesandro, Carol Deegan, and Nancy Siefker.