Wednesday, May 9, 2012

University of Kansas Hospital authority board honors “No One Dies Alone” initiative

The University of Kansas Hospital Authority Board today honored leaders and volunteers behind the “No One Dies Alone” (NODA) initiative.

NODA provides support to terminal patients who would otherwise be alone with "compassionate companions" – hospital employees who volunteer to sit with patients in the final hours of their lives.

“These volunteers reflect the highest standard of the patient-focused culture we have established at our hospital,” said Bob Page, president and chief executive officer of The University of Kansas Hospital.  “While our emphasis is on using advanced medicine to save lives, there are limits to what we can accomplish.  This initiative honors the dignity of all our patients at the end of life.”

Leaders of the program were honored by the Authority Board at their meeting this morning.  The hospital has 86 registered staff volunteers who have taken part in nearly 100 bedside vigils in the initiative’s first year.

“Patients not only deserve, but very much need to know that as long as they are with us, we are going to give them all the care we can,” says Chaplain Roy Sanders, the initiative’s coordinator.

Some families are too distant to arrive in time or can’t afford to travel or leave work. Sometimes family and friends simply cannot be there when their loved one dies.

“Not everybody can be part of a dying situation,” says Sanders. “The emphasis is on dignity and affirming the life the person has lived, and easing the grief of families and friends who don’t make it to the bedside in time.”

NODA was founded in 2001 by Sandra Clarke, an intensive care unit nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Ore., who noticed there was no continuous support system in place for terminal patients without family or friends.

The initiative has slowly spread to hospitals around the country.