Hospital Happenings – August 2019

No One Dies Alone

Imagine if you or a loved one were in a hospital with only a few hours remaining. Perhaps your family cannot be with you for various reasons, you have no family, or maybe your loved one is exhausted and needs rest. Would you want to spend that time alone – or with someone?

The No One Dies Alone Program (NODA) at Montrose Memorial Hospital utilizes compassionate volunteers to provide a reassuring and comforting presence to actively dying patients who would otherwise be alone. Working together with the hospital staff, NODA volunteers offer the patients a dignified death that honors and respects them as human beings. Montrose Memorial Hospital (MMH) is committed to providing the best possible care to every patient no matter the diagnosis.

Whether due to social, economic and/or geographic reasons, it may not be possible for every patient to have family or friends in attendance during the end-of life process. In keeping with this philosophy of care and to ensure that patient’s wishes not to die alone are honored, the NODA program was created.

NODA was the brainchild of Sandra Clarke, RN as a result of a patient experience she had one evening on the Critical Care Unit of Sacred Heart Medical Center. One busy night on the unit, Sandra was in the middle of making rounds to patients, when one of her patients asked if she could stay with him. Unfortunately, Sandra had a full patient caseload and was not able to stay. The patient ended up dying when she was not there. The patient’s death weighed heavily on Sandra’s mind and heart. She could not escape the feeling that the patient should not have died alone. Sandra decided to discuss what happened with hospital management. From this conversation with management and the help of compassionate volunteers serving as companions to the dying, the No One Dies Alone Program was created in November of 2001.

The patient’s care provider and other staff members will use specific criteria to determine if a patient is a candidate for NODA and will contact Volunteer Services to activate the program. It is our goal to provide volunteers, 24 hours a day, to sit with patients who are actively dying for their last 48 to 72 hours. The program will work hard to fill requests based on volunteer availability.

NODA volunteers receive specific training on the dying process, hospital guidelines and other requirements necessary to fulfill this specific and empathetic position. NODA volunteers will not provide medical care at any time. If you are interested in participating in this program, please contact Beth McCorkle at or 970-240-7341.

Leann Tobin, Senior Director of Community Engagement, MMH 240-7344