Healthwatch 16: No One Dies Alone

PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center has a program, powered by volunteers, that aims to make sure nobody has to be by themselves at the end of life.

And they're looking for a few special volunteers.

Jodell Salata has logged a lot of hours in hospitals. She used to be a nurse and a few years ago, was by her husband's side when, after a long illness, he took a turn for the worse.

"I was able to be with my husband, be there on his final journey," Salata recalled. "It was very comforting, but not everybody is lucky enough to be in that situation."

Jodell is a volunteer at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre for a program called "No One Dies Alone" and the mission is just as it sounds.

Occasionally, according to hospital staff, a patient at the end of life won't have a family member or friend to sit with them or the patient's family is too far away to make it in time.

John Kopec is the 3-11 p.m. nursing supervisor at the hospital who has seen it all and seen what he calls the wonderful program used in a number of cases.

"I've seen people come in with their guitar, some people read poetry, it's a very comforting thing."

There's a special TV channel in the hospital staff can use to help set a calm, serene mood for a patient called the Care Channel.

But hospital chaplain Anne Kasper says nothing compares to human touch, a hand to hold at just the right time.

"We don't necessarily 100 percent know what's happening those last moments of life, but it seems that having someone with the patient is calming and helps with that transition," said Kasper.

"When it works it works really well," Kopec added.  "The challenge is getting enough people."

Volunteer officials at GWV recently held an informational meeting about the program, hoping to attract some special people who may feel called to play such a role.

They are looking for more.

Even Jodell Salata wasn't sure she could handle it at first but found that the peace she gets is just as great as the peace she gives.

"I feel in what I do with No One Dies Alone is completing my journey, being able to provide and give back what I've been blessed with."

If you think volunteering with No One Dies Alone is something you might be interested in, call 570-808-3435 or click here.

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