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Vigil program provides additional support

News Release 



December 12, 2006                             Contact:           Victoria Tedeschi

Public Relations Specialist

Adventist Midwest Health



Vigil program provides additional support

for patients and their families


Hinsdale, IL – Adventist St. Thomas Hospice now offers a vigil program for patients and their families. Through the vigil program, specially trained volunteers are available on a 24-hour basis to provide urgent care needs, said Barb Zerby, coordinator of volunteer services.

Unlike the traditional volunteer program where care is scheduled, vigil volunteers can be called out at a moment’s notice. “Vigil services are particularly useful during a crisis when family members are unable to cope and need emotional support,” she said. “The services are also used in a nursing home situation when a patient is dying and there are no family members or friends available to be with them.”

Volunteers receive 27 hours of extensive training on topics such as coping with loss, the dying process, cultural diversity, spirituality, bereavement, stress management, communication skills and family dynamics.

Volunteers in the vigil program receive additional training from a social worker, nurse and chaplain. This training includes physical changes from a nurse’s perspective, the symptoms of approaching death, psychosocial issues and spiritual issues. “Patients may be very accepting of death or they may have a lot of anger,” Zerby said. “We teach volunteers so they know how to be a comforting presence. Sometimes all someone needs to know is that somebody is there.”

For the past 25 years, Adventist St. Thomas Hospice has been providing compassionate care to patients and their families throughout the Chicagoland counties of DuPage, eastern Kane, northern Will and western Cook.

Adventist St. Thomas Hospice relies on more than 100 volunteers to provide services to patients and their families. “Our volunteers really provide an added support for the patient and his family,” Zerby said. Volunteers are always needed. For information about volunteering, call 630-856-6998 or visit our Web site at