No One Dies Alone Introduced at Wishard Health Services

Wishard volunteers to provide companionship and support for dying, hospitalized individuals


CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317-630-7808
Pager: 317-310-5972   
Email: todd.harper@wishard.edu


Indianapolis, October 22, 2012 -- In certain situations family members are either not around or traveling from far distances when a patient enters the hospital. For a dying patient, time is not on his/her side. This month Wishard Health Services is introducing No One Dies Alone (NODA),  program providing companionship and support for dying, hospitalized individuals so that no patient ever dies alone.   

The program uses volunteer companions who are notified when patients are alone and expected to die in the next 24 hours. The companions come to the hospital and stay with the patients, rotating through three-hour shifts, to ensure they are not left alone in their final moments. During the vigil, the volunteer companions talk to the patients, hold their hand or just serve as a compassionate presence in the room.

"At Wishard we believe that every person has worth. Our compassionate companion volunteers help to provide emotional encouragement at such a critical time for our patients," said Lee Ann Blue, chief nursing officer and executive vice president of patient care services at Wishard.

Volunteers will undergo both hospital and program training. This training is to ensure the safety of both volunteers and patients in addition to ensuring the vigil experience is a positive one for both people.

As the program initiates this month, Wishard is looking for interested, caring members of the community, including current Wishard volunteers, to serve as compassionate companions. Because of the nature of the program, companions must be older than 18 years of age and must not have experienced a recent death of a friend or family member. Current Wishard employees are not able to volunteer for NODA.

NODA training is one two-hour session that is offered once a month and addresses the logistical and emotional aspects of being in this role. NODA is a national volunteer-centered program started at PeaceHealth in Eugene, OR, in 2001. Volunteers act as surrogate family members to provide patients with companionship, allowing them to die with dignity and ensuring they will be remembered.

The program has been developed by the Wishard Palliative Care Program, which assists poor and underserved patients who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses and lack the resources to die with the dignity and compassion. The specially trained palliative care staff at Wishard helps coordinate complex medical care for patients as they face the physical and psychological challenges associated with their illness.

For more information or if you are interested in serving as a compassionate companion, please contact 317-630-6118 or NODA@wishard.edu.