Published on July 24, 2018

Essentia Health establishing volunteers for No One Dies Alone

Peggy Holtz, a chaplain at Essentia Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, felt called to ensure terminal patients aren’t alone when they die.  “Often when a patient is in their final hours, they are comforted by family and friends,” she shared. “But there are situations where a patient doesn’t have anyone to be with them, whether it’s an absent or estranged family situation, or purely due to timing and distance.”

Peggy found the No One Dies Alone program, established out of this need. Created by Sacred Heart Medical Center and critical care nurse Sandra Clarke in 2001, No One Dies Alone is designed to provide compassionate care to patients who are dying along.  At the heart of the program are dedicated and empathetic volunteers who are well trained and available on a 24-hour basis, in 4 hour shifts, to provide peace and comfort when no one else is available during the last 2-3 days of life.

“This program is an extension of living out our Benedictine values of hospitality and respect,” said Peggy. “Our mission as a Catholic, Benedictine sponsored facility is to promote Christ’s ministry of holistic healing for all human life with special concern for the poor and powerless.”

An 8-hour training session is required for all volunteers, which will be held in late September at St. Joe’s.   The training will cover the role of being a compassionate companion, including understanding and responding to the dying patient, understanding cure vs. healing, maintaining a healing presence, and compassion and self-care.  People interested in volunteering should contact Peggy at

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