NODA uses volunteer companions who are notified when patients are alone and expected to die in the next 24 to 72 hours.
“It’s important for us that nobody has to die alone," said Megan Porter, a palliative care social worker at Eskenazi Health. "We think that a cornerstone of providing good healthcare. Being able to be with a patient, hold their hand and to know that there is somebody caring for them, even if they may not know them. I think that it the most important thing.”
Porter said it takes anywhere between 85 and 100 volunteers to complete a successful vigil for the patient. She said the more volunteers they have, the more opportunity they have to give back.
“We are always in need of volunteers," said Porter. "We would love to be able to do concurrent vigils together because sometimes it happens when we get more than one and to have to make that choice, no one wants to do that."
The companions come to the hospital and stay with the patients, rotating through three-hour shifts, to ensure they are not alone in their final moments. During the vigil, the volunteers talk to the patients, hold their hand or simply serve as a peaceful presence in the room.
“We encourage them to talk to them, to play music," said Porter. "If we are able to find some things out about the patient that they like, especially types of music, we really try to bring that into the vigil to make them as comfortable as possible.”
Training to become a NODA volunteer consists of a one two-hour session which addresses both the logistical and emotional aspects of the role. Porter said training is mandatory as those involved with the program act as surrogate family members to provide patients with love and support.
“A lot of the families are very grateful, they appreciate it because sometimes it’s just too much for the family to handle," said Porter. "That’s when we give the opportunity to be able to kind of step into that role.”
On Thursday, April 26th, the No One Dies Alone initiative will offer an orientation session for people interested in learning more about becoming a volunteer for the program.
The session will be held at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital at 720 Eskenazi Avenue, on the main floor in the Fagre Baker Daniels conference room at 3:30 p.m.
Volunteers must be 18 years or older. Interested participants should email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 317-880-8263.