Newsroom Love in every stitch: Quilts bring joy to patients at Cox Barton Posted by Janell Patton on Oct. 3, 2022 The comfort of a quilt – pieces and layers of material stitched together - brings warmth and love to patients at Cox Barton County Hospital.When the new hospital was being built in 2007, board member Karen Wegener wanted the design of the facility to feel homey and welcoming; a place built to bring comfort and peace to those in need."Hospitals are pretty, but can often be designed cold, with limited color," she says. "Once the color-boards were decided upon, I went to work to create that warm and welcoming feel we wanted for our little hospital."To create a feeling of comfort, the decision was made to create quilt art to display in every Medical-Surgical patient room and other high-traffic areas of the hospital."We ended up acquiring picture frames from O'Sullivan Industries when they closed their doors," says Wegener. "We were able to keep the mattes intact so we just had to replace the pictures and put one quilt square in each frame."Wegener poured her heart into selecting fabrics for the quilt kits that matched the paint and design colors of the hospital. The fabric and quilt patterns were put into baggies, then distributed to over 30 different quilters in the Barton County area. Once complete, Wegener sewed on borders to make the squares the right size to fit each of the designated mattes and frames."To take the quilt theme one step further, I asked the 'pink ladies' (as volunteers were referred to years ago) to make lap quilts to go on beds to welcome each new patient," she says. "Other ladies from the community began to step up to help, and before you know it, we had enough for each patient room."Wegener says patients love the lap quilts so much that they often ask if they can take them home. This wasn’t the original plan, but hospital staff allows patients to take them if requested.“Over the years, numerous ladies in Barton County have contributed to making lap quilts for patient rooms,” she says. “Ladies will sometimes take turns making one part of the quilt, then send it on to another quilter to work on, and the process continues until the beautiful quilt is complete.”The fabric lap quilts need to be replaced frequently because they go through a stringent laundering and sanitizing process that can be hard on them.Many of the contributors to the quilt art project have since passed, but they’re not forgotten. Each quilter signed the bottom of the square they pieced together.Beatrice Smith is a local quilter who is carrying on the tradition of making lap quilts for patients. Beatrice, who learned to sew in high school, moved to Lamar in 2011 after living in Maine all her life. She arrived in the area with a strong Eastern New England English accent and a calling to help others."My accent usually gives me away that I was not raised in Missouri," says the 82-year-old with a laugh. "I needed to find something to do to pass my time. I started making quilts again, and part of my enjoyment now is watching my ornery cat named Miss Kitty jump up on the sewing machine to follow the needle as it moves up and down."Each quilt Smith sews for the hospital features a fleece backing to help keep patients warm and cozy. She finds that sewing with fleece is much easier than flannel.Smith, who estimates donating around 500 lap quilts to various organizations, became acquainted with several hospital staff members who randomly will reach out to her when the quilts need to be replaced.“I was told years ago that I was going to live to be 93,” she says. “I plan to keep stitching as long as I can to carry on the tradition of bringing warmth and comfort to those in need."Smith says the only thing she ever asks for in return is a thank you note.Wegener, for her part, smiles when she thinks about quilters in Barton County who continue to make lap quilts for inpatients. A tradition is being kept alive so patients can feel like being at home while hospitalized."There's just nothing quite like the comfort of a soft, cozy quilt when you don't feel good,” she says. “There are so many little touches like this that make Cox Barton such a special place to receive care."If you or someone you know is interested in contributing to the lap quilt program, please call the hospital at 417-681-5236.