No One Dies Alone (NODA) is a volunteer program to assist patients and their families during an end-of-life situation. A team of trained volunteers is on call at St. Peter’s Health 24 hour a day, seven days a week to provide this service. These volunteers provide reassuring presence to dying patients who would otherwise be alone, offering patients the most valuable of human gifts: a dignified death.
NODA is a nondenominational program and is for patients who are on comfort care with a short life expectancy. The goal of the service is to provide relief of the physical, emotional and spiritual pain that burdens the dying and their loved ones.
NODA relies on the hearts of volunteers who bring life to the program. Compassionate volunteers who are companions to those alone in their dying speak of the experience as a privilege. The volunteers sit with the patient in a quiet and reflective way, supporting those experiencing the intensity of life as they face death. NODA creates moments of grace in a world of uncertainty.
St. Peter’s NODA is led by the NODA coordinator. The coordinator works together with numerous volunteers. All volunteers go through a criminal and background check and substantial hospital training.
Requesting a NODA volunteer
To activate the NODA service, a health care worker or family member may contact the NODA coordinator. The schedule is based on family preference, volunteer availability, patient need and nurse need.
How you can help
Financial donations are greatly appreciated and can be made to NODA through St. Peter’s Health Foundation or by calling 406-444-2370. Donations are used for volunteer education and program supplies.
The History of No One Dies Alone
NODA was founded in 2001 by a critical care nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore., and was started at St. Peter’s in 2012. The nurse said, “One rainy night, I had a brief encounter with a man who was one of my seven patients. He asked, barely audible, “Will you stay with me?” I said, “Sure, as soon as I check my other patients.” After vital signs, passing medications, chart checks, assessments, and bathroom assistance for six other patients which took about an hour and a half, I returned and found him dead and felt awful. It was okay for him to die as it was his time but he should not have been alone.”
This lonely death led the nurse to the notion of a volunteer companion program for hospital patients who would otherwise be alone during their death journey. With the help of hospital administrators, she brought NODA into being. The program has won several awards and has inspired hospitals around the United States and beyond to create similar programs.