For the past 14 years I have been affiliated as a volunteer with the Grande Ronde Hospital Hospice and No One Dies Alone programs to help meet the needs of dying persons, their friends and families. These programs have brought dignity and respect to countless persons since the 1980s.

So it was with astonishment that I, and other volunteers, read about the closure of the Grande Ronde Hospital Hospice program (Worker shortage forces closure of Grande Ronde hospice program, Tuesday, June 1). There was no prior contact from GRHH sharing the news and perhaps thanking us for years of volunteer service.

Nothing.

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of hospice programs. You will find them sitting with patients so family members can take a much-needed break, reading a favorite book out loud or watching a video. More than that, there are deeper moments when a volunteer may listen to questions about the meaning of life and death.

No One Dies Alone is just that. Before this closure, GRH Hospice patients could be assured they would not die alone in isolation. My favorite three-hour shift was late at night. During this time we provided no medical care, but we sat vigil in the last hours of life as this person traveled on. No family and friends nearby — we NODA volunteers were there. When NODA volunteers were called, no one died alone.

Again, I say: Did we volunteers not deserve personal communication about the program closing and not have to be startled and saddened by reading about it in the newspaper?

Cheryl Simpson

La Grande

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