Dignity Health | Be well | Spring 2018

I WANT TO VOLUNTEER! Evelyn Peterson: 530.276.1076 eviepeterson@gmail.com Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831. Catherine and the sisters often kept vigil with people who were dying in their homes or in the hospitals in Dublin. When Catherine herself was dying, the sisters accom- panied her on her sacred journey, praying with her or simply being quietly present. This tradition of keeping company continues today when any Sister of Mercy is dying. Sister Brenda has this concept built into her moral fiber. “The ministry of keeping vigil is no less true when patients are dying in our hospitals,” she says. “Because nurses need to attend to other patients, they cannot always guarantee presence at the time of death.” A simple kindness The fear of dying alone is deeply human. Sister Brenda remembers what her aging mother confided to her decades ago: “I’m not afraid of dying. I know I’ll go to God. But I am afraid of dying alone, without my family surrounding me.” It was a similar experience of not being present with a patient at the time of their death that prompted Sandra Clarke, a nurse at PeaceHealth in Oregon, to create No One Dies Alone in 2001. To develop this program at Mercy Medical Center Redding, Sister Brenda and Peterson received a grant from Mercy Foundation North. These funds provided support for a part-time leader of the volunteers and for the purchase of NODA training manuals, facilitator guides, and other materials from PeaceHealth. To date, Sister Brenda and Peterson have completed three successful volunteer training and orientation sessions. At the end of each, there is a ceremony in which the NODA volunteers receive a blessing. They are commissioned to provide the important ministry of keeping vigil with those who would face death alone. These volunteers continue to ensure that patients make a peaceful transition from life to death. A hand held. A gentle touch. A prayer spoken. A song sung. A known or felt quiet presence. These are at the core of what a volunteer commits to providing so that no one dies alone at Mercy Medical Center Redding. “For Evelyn, sharing someone’s final hours is a ‘true blessing,’” says Sister Brenda. “Ultimately, NODA is about letting people have a peaceful death, and it fulfills the healing ministry of Jesus entrusted to us.” Twenty-four people have received 550 hours of support from volunteers who are not paid for their caring ministry. A hand held. A gentle touch. A prayer spoken. A song sung. A known or felt quiet presence. 23 Dignity Health North State