Thrive by IU Health

July 22, 2020

Program plans for expansion: No One Dies Alone

Program plans for expansion: No One Dies Alone

When it started, there was no pandemic, but there were still patients who were alone in their final hours. Now, IU Health is planning to expand a nationwide program known as “No One Dies Alone (NODA).

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Maybe their loved ones live far away. They may be estranged from family members. There are many reasons why patients are alone in their final days.

There’s a nurse by the bedside, and many times there are multiple caregivers. Yet, one individual steps forward to remain with the patient consistently. That individual is part of a team of volunteers in a program known as “No One Dies Alone,” (NODA).

Retired nurse Susan Magrath was so passionate about the program that she began planning and implementing NODA at IU Health Ball Memorial last year. Now, under the direction of Monika Lamchi the program is expanding to other IU Health hospitals.

The No One Dies Alone program started in 2001 in an Oregon hospital and now includes more than 400 health organizations. The goal is to provide volunteer bedside companionship to patients during the last 48 hours of their life. Volunteers known as “Compassionate Companions” are specially trained and screened to participate in the program.

Through the efforts of volunteers, NODA provides a reassuring presence to dying patients, offering a valuable gift “a dignified death.”

“What we do in healthcare is take care of people and that is from getting them well to the end of life,” said Lamchi. “It’s important to be with them when a family can’t be there or get there in time. It’s a culmination of our care at IU Health and part of the birth to death care model we believe in.”

With COVID-19 restrictions in place, Lamchi is working with a task force of key volunteers across the state. Those caregivers include chaplains, social workers, and case managers at 15 IU Health facilities – including Riley Hospital, Methodist Hospital, and University Hospital.

Those volunteers are gearing up to train internal and external volunteers in hopes of implementing the program in 2021. Learn more here.