Stamford Hospital has launched a new program, "No One Dies Alone" (NODA). The initiative extends caring concern to Stamford Hospital's patients and community by providing a reassuring bedside presence to a dying patient who would otherwise be alone during his or her final hours.

NODA is supported by more than 80 hospital staff and community members who volunteer their time providing compassionate, end-of-life companionship to patients. The program is for patients who are on comfort care and do not resuscitate status, and are expected to die within 48 to 72 hours. With NODA, patients who do not have friends or family to comfort or sit bedside with them are able to "die with dignity," according to the hospital.

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There are many ways in which a compassionate companion can provide comfort to a patient. Under the supervision of the nursing staff, volunteers will hold a patient's hand, read poems and stories, play music, carry on conversations and assist in providing care as directed by a nurse.

"Dying in pain and alone is often a major fear for patients," Deborah Fedeli, Stamford Hospital's director of patient-centered services, said. "NODA allows us to provide a level of respect and dignity to those spending their final days with us and do not have the comfort of friends or family nearby. Our volunteers do an exceptional job of letting patients know they are not alone, and express sensitivity, concern and empathy."

All NODA volunteers are required to participate in a day-long training session that discusses adhering to hospital protocol, patient privacy, standard precautions, sensitivity to the spiritual needs of the patient, as well as the motivation of the person wishing to volunteer.

NODA was founded in 2002 by Sandra Clark, CCRN, at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, Oregon. The program has won several awards and has inspired hospitals around the U.S. and beyond to create similar programs.

For more information, contact Stamford Hospital's volunteer department at 203-276-7521.

Stamford Hospital is a nonprofit provider of comprehensive healthcare services in lower Fairfield County and the region. The mission of Stamford Hospital is to provide, together with its physicians, a broad range of high quality health and wellness services focused on the needs of the community. Stamford Hospital is a member of the Planetree Alliance, a group of hospitals nationwide focused on patient-centered care. Stamford Hospital is affiliated with New York Presbyterian Health System and is a major teaching affiliate of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.