Hospital volunteers offer comfort, ensure that no patient dies a - KCTV5

Hospital volunteers offer comfort, ensure that no patient dies alone

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St. Luke's says about 12-15 people every year have no one who can be with them when they die. The University of Kansas Hospital says they had 16 patients last year. (KCTV5) St. Luke's says about 12-15 people every year have no one who can be with them when they die. The University of Kansas Hospital says they had 16 patients last year. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The only thing guaranteed in life is death, and for many of us when we pass, family will be around us.

However, for some, that is not an option. That is where the No One Dies Alone (NODA) program comes in.

The program began in 2001 in Eugene, OR. For the most, it is still active at local hospitals.

Chaplain Marshall Scott with St. Luke's Health System says NODA began at St. Luke's in 2009.

"We're all going to face this," Scott said. "It is a time when people appreciate knowing that they're loved. Knowing that someone cares."

Nurses and other hospital staff help identify a patient who has no one or figures out that family members of the patient will have to travel a great distance to be by their bedside.

Then, volunteers, like Lori Hill, are contacted.

"When we think end of life, most of us, we're surrounded by family and friends," Hill said. "For someone not to have that, did not seem right."

St. Luke's says about 12-15 people every year have no one who can be with them when they die. The University of Kansas Hospital says they had 16 patients last year.

A NODA volunteer is a calming presence.

"We try to make the patient as comfortable as possible," Hill said. "We have music that we play for them. We read to them. We talk to them ... just anything that makes them more comfortable."

"You spoke about birth and we talk about events of life transition," Scott said. "This is number two in terms of the intensity. To be with people in that is a privilege."

However, finding volunteers can be difficult.

"People who have the time to volunteer are often retired folks," Scott said. "And they [retired individuals] may be the people who have the most difficulty being out at 2 a.m."

It also has to be a good fit.

"It's a special person that's willing to simply sit and be present with a person who is dying," Hill said.

Hill has been present when a few people have passed. She says it's an honor.

"When you first go into the room of a patient, they're a patient," Hill said. "They're someone you don't know. But by the time you leave, you feel like you're connected with them. You feel like they've become family."

"My sense is, the last sense [that someone has who is dying] is that sense of having someone with you who cares," Scott said. "Even when the patient is so sedated that we don't trust the patient can even hear, the sense that one is not alone."

Right now, NODA volunteers are needed for any hospitals in the St. Luke's Health System. You can contact the volunteer coordinator or chaplain and just ask about the program. Volunteers are all given the proper training. Click here for more information.

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