Covenant caregivers ensure 'No One Dies Alone'
No one is born alone and in the best of circumstances, no one dies alone.
"You don't leave the same after you go into that, it touches you," Covenant Health Regional Director of Regulatory Readiness Rita Chapman said.
'No One Dies Alone' is a program at Covenant for patients who are close to death.
"We say 24 to 72 hours, but that is not anything that anyone really knows, it just has to go on what the nurse believes to be the case," Covenant Health Chief Mission Officer Holly LaFebre said.
The volunteers part of this program are caregivers who work at Covenant. An email is sent out with the need, the call is answered, and the caregivers are assigned.
"I would feel just a little more at ease knowing that somebody is there at the bed side holding my loved ones hand," LaFebre said.
There's no additional training required, it's all about being present with the patient.
"The blessings that you get, probably exceed what we do for that person or their family," Chapman said.
Caregivers sit with patients who have no family present which could be for many different reasons.
"Sometimes there is just no connection with their family anymore and on other occasions family is half way across the country trying desperately to get here," LaFebre said.
The caregivers use several, simple ways to connect with these patients.
"You can turn on the tv with them, we talk about putting soothing music on, but mainly I think it's that you tell them that you're there, you're touching them, you're patting them, you get down close to them and have that connection," Chapman said.
Holly LaFebre, the program director, believes it gives comfort to the family who can't be there knowing someone is there, but also to the patient who is on their last leg.
"I can only imagine in that moment for a patient feeling alone and scared and knowing that you had someone in the room with you, it may not be someone you know of course, but to have that human connection and that presence," LaFebre said.
Rita Chapman, who has volunteered on multiple occasions, said you'll never leave the same.
"At Covenant we talk about our ministry, and our sacred moments, and this is one of those sacred moments when you're there. Those of us that are doing it feel that presence, and it guides you, it helps you know touch, pat, whisper, sing, be quiet, because sometimes the quietness of it is probably letting that other entity do their work. You get a little bit of an adrenaline rush, what am I going to do, how am I going to help, when am I going to be able to do this," Chapman said.
This program started in 2008 after a caregiver at Covenant heard about a similar program in Oregon. Since then, it has provided comfort to many families each year.