Program uses volunteers who are notified when patients are alone and expected to die - Eskenazi Health

On Thursday, April 30, at 2 p.m., the Eskenazi Health No One Dies Alone (NODA) program will offer an orientation session for people interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer for the program.

The program uses volunteer companions who are notified when patients are alone and expected to die in the next 24 to 72 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.

The initial NODA training consists of one two-hour session that is offered quarterly and addresses the logistical and emotional aspects of being in this role. Volunteers act as surrogate family members to provide patients with companionship, allowing them to die with dignity and ensuring they will be remembered. NODA does ongoing training and debriefing after vigils to learn from each other and process the experience.

“NODA has such a profound effect on not only the patients we help, but on our volunteers as well. One volunteer reflected by saying ‘Sometimes when I sit with a patient I wonder to myself, am I here for them, or are they here for me?’” said Heidi R. Sichting, program manager of the Eskenazi Health Palliative Care Department.

The program was developed by Eskenazi Health Palliative Care in 2013 and assists underserved patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses and are nearing death. The specially trained staff at Eskenazi Health help coordinate complex medical care for patients as they face the physical and psychological challenges associated with their illness.

The orientation session will be held at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, 720 Eskenazi Ave. Interested participants should email noda@eskenazihealth.edu or call 317.880.8263 for more information. 

CONTACT: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.880.4785
Pager: 317.310.5972 
Email: todd.harper@eskenazihealth.edu