Chaplain Rich Thibodeau was far away on a business trip when he got news he wasn’t prepared to hear. His dad had passed away in the nursing home where he lived.
“The earth shook around me when I found out he died alone,” Thibodeau said. “I have carried this self-imposed burden about his death with me for a long time.”
His heartbreaking experience was one reason he felt called to start a new program, “No One Dies Alone” at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. The program is designed to ensure that no one at the hospital dies without a caring person by their side.
Pastoral Services launched the initiative on July 1. More than 30 volunteers have and completed the two training courses required to participate in the "No One Dies Alone" program. With the support of both the nursing staff and case management, volunteer companions will offer patients the most valuable of human gifts: a dignified death.
For the patients who find themselves alone in the final hours of their lives, volunteers will focus on the principles of being rather than doing.
“The most important aspect of this program is that this is a ministry of presence,” Thibodeau said. “Simply letting a human being know there’s another human being that cares for them.”
Click here for more information on the program in a news story from The Oklahoman.