It's a tremendous program started at a hospital in Oregon to provide volunteers to sit with dying patients who have no family. And now we're bringing it to our hospital! Tomorrow night I will be one of the teachers in our very first training session for volunteers in our own No One Dies Alone program.
I am so happy to be a part of making this happen. It's such an important program . . . . and my participation really fits in with my vision of how chaplains need to operate in today's hospitals. The fact of the matter is that very few facilities have the financial resources to afford to fund a large department of trained chaplains to work with every patient.
The effective professional chaplain, therefore, needs to function largely as a catalyst to help others to provide spiritual care to patients. That means that the roles for the chaplain need to be: chaplain as educator and chaplain as leader and coordinator. In my work with No One Dies Alone, I am functioning in those kinds of roles and thus acting as a catalyst to provide compassionate and spiritual care for patients who don't have their own resources.
Here is a short excerpt from what the Oregon hospital's web site has to say about No One Dies Alone:
No one is born alone, and in the best of circumstances, no one dies alone. Yet from time to time terminally ill patients come to Sacred Heart Medical Center who have neither family nor close friends to be with them as they near the end of life.
No One Dies Alone is a volunteer program at Sacred Heart that provides the reassuring presence of a volunteer companion to dying patients who would otherwise be alone. With the support of the nursing staff, companions are thus able to help provide patients with that most valuable of human gifts: a dignified death.