For patients without family, St. Rita’s volunteers start ‘No One Dies Alone’

LIMA — After watching several patients die before their families could make it to the hospital, a team of Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center nurses started an initiative to ensure someone is always at the bedside of dying patients who have no one else to comfort them.

“You didn’t come into this world alone,” said Stacy Braun, a nursing manager for St. Rita’s. “You shouldn’t leave this world alone.”

The volunteer program, started by Megan Ewing, Kate Faurot and Braun, who supervises a step-down unit for patients transitioning out of intensive care, is in its early stages, modeled after No One Dies Alone initiatives implemented by other hospitals.

Already, the nurses have recruited an interdisciplinary team of volunteers, including a hospice nurse, an oncology manager and others.

The idea came after several patients, each of whom had do not resuscitate orders, deteriorated unexpectedly last year—too quickly for family members to get to the hospital to comfort them, Braun said.

So, Braun’s nurses volunteered to sit at the bedside, increasing their workload to ensure those patients didn’t spend their final moments alone, she said.

To Braun, it doesn’t matter why a dying patient is alone.

“Maybe they weren’t nice at the end of their life,” she said. “Maybe they cut all ties from their family. Maybe their family didn’t know where they were. … You still should have someone be there with you.”