Blanketing Hospice Patients With Warmth and Comfort

Blankets760Everyone handles personal loss in their own unique way. When Red Wing, Minnesota, resident Ruthe Exner lost her husband in March 2012, she held true to that idea by pouring her energy and sewing talents into creating what the Red Wing Republican-Eagle recently called a "touching tradition" for hospice patients at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing. Exner has been making handmade "comfort blankets" for patients receiving the very same hospice care as her husband had. And making them by the dozens. And dozens.

Despite the issues that brought her husband there, Ruthe tells the newspaper that the month her husband spent in hospice care at Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing was actually a very good experience. "They treated him so well," she says. So well, in fact, that following her husband's passing, Ruthe decided she wanted to give something back to the patients and staff who supported and cared for her husband.

Beginning just days after she lost her husband, Ruthe started making the comfort blankets. And in the past two years, the newspaper reports that she's made more than 500 of her blankets with about 70 more ready to be delivered. "I can do about a blanket a day," she tells the paper. "I've gone through a lot of scissors." She says that hospice staff "enjoy seeing her new donations" and that she's heard stories about how her blankets have touched the lives of more than just the patients themselves. One of those included a young mother who used one of Ruthe's blankets for her baby's baptism "as a meaningful symbol" after the death of the woman's father, who had been a hospice patient.

That's but one of the many ways Ruthe's blankets are helping provide a little warmth and comfort to those who need it most, according to Hospice Supervisor Brenda Stephens. "Our hospice patients and their families really appreciate these blankets and the love that went into making them," Stephens tells us. "Our staff feel proud and honored to present them to our patients on Ruthe's behalf."

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