Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital introduces Abider Program

Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital (MERMH) will soon offer an Abider Program that provides a trained volunteer, or an abider, to sit beside patients during the last days and hours of their lives.

Abider volunteers are trained to provide a spiritual presence to persons who are identified as "actively dying." Reading scripture or poetry, offering prayer, playing soft music, or simply holding the dying person's hand are characteristic of an abider program.

“Often times a dying patient is alone and does not have the support or presence of a family or friend, or the family or friend may be physically or emotionally unavailable to the patient,” said Lisa Becker, Case Management, Ministry Eagle River Memorial Hospital. “This program will ensure that a caring abider is there for the patient in their greatest time of need.”

The Abider Program is part of the Palliative Care Program through the MERMH Case Management Department and is comprised of volunteers working under the direction of Becker, the palliative care coordinator. There are currently nine volunteers that have been trained for the abider program.

An abider is a member of the MERMH Auxiliary and will be responsible for maintaining requirements on occupational health screening, confidentiality and patient rights, and infection control.

Lisa Pepp, MERMH Auxiliary and Wisconsin Hospital Association Partners, Chair of Health Education, gained the idea for the abider program from the Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington in Burlington, Wisconsin.

“When I first saw this program in Burlington, I thought it was a great idea,” said Pepp. “They were kind enough to share the program with us, which nicely fits with the palliative care mission of improving end of life care in our communities.”

The development of this program exemplifies Ministry Health Care’s commitment to the four core values of Presence, Service, Vision, and Justice. The program encourages staff and volunteers to treat others with dignity and respect so each person feels important and worthwhile.

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