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Compassion Without End

Compassion Without End

July 05, 2023 Posted in: Patients & Providers  3 minute read time

 

Nurse John Welch couldn’t bear the thought of patients dying without someone at their bedside, so he started a program to ensure no one at his ministry would go through the end-of-life transition alone.

Originally a computer science major in college, London, Kentucky native John Welch, RN, clinical educator at Saint Joseph London, realized he had a different calling.

“My grandmother was in the hospital, and I helped her get comfortable in bed,” Welch said. “My parents noticed the compassionate care I gave her and suggested I might be interested in nursing. The next week, I went to the nursing school building at my college and asked how to sign up for the program.”

Stepping Up to Solve a Heartbreaking Problem

A nurse for six years, including the past two at Saint Joseph London, Welch spent his early career in the ICU before switching to the ER. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his fellow nurses, overstretched by the large number of patients coming in, sometimes struggled to be with patients who didn’t have family at the bedside when they died. After one particularly upsetting shift, Welch knew he had to do something.

“I went home and prayed to the Lord to point me in the right direction,” Welch said. “The next day, something told me to research programs to prevent patients from dying alone. No One Dies Alone was the first program I came across.”

More than two decades ago, a nurse at an Oregon hospital started No One Dies Alone, a program that recruits volunteers to sit with hospitalized patients at the end of life. The program spread to hospitals around the country. When Welch proposed a No One Dies Alone program for Saint Joseph London, ministry leaders loved the idea. Welch trained a small group of volunteers on what to expect and how to be present with patients during the dying process. Once the training concluded, No One Dies Alone started at Saint Joseph London in November 2022.

Bedside Blessings

When a staff member identifies a patient who meets the No One Dies Alone criteria, he or she notifies Welch, who arranges for a volunteer to sit with the patient.

“No One Dies Alone allows someone to be with end-of-life patients while permitting nurses and care staff to fulfill other responsibilities,” Welch said. “This ensures all patients, including those in the dying process, receive the care they need.”

Welch would eventually like to extend No One Dies Alone to other CHI Saint Joseph Health facilities. In the meantime, he’s focused on helping to deliver comfort and care to every Saint Joseph London patient.

Want to volunteer at your local CHI Saint Joseph Health ministry? Apply today.

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