Quilting through life’s challenges

November 17, 2023
Housecall Providers patient Dorothy Davis, The Quilt Lady in Remote Oregon, with her quilts for the Quiltopia Oregon quilting competition

Dorothy Davis, who has been quilting for over 40 years, recalls that her grandmother’s house always had a quilting frame in the living room so there was always a project to work on.

Listening to Dorothy Davis, 82, one gets a sense of a determined woman with an invincible spirit. Her life is a tale of creativity, drive, and resilience, and she now receives comfort and palliative care through the Housecall Providers Advanced Illness Care program.

The daughter and granddaughter of migrant workers, she’s a natural when it comes to sewing, painting, beading, and her family’s passion, quilting. Her talent in the latter turned her into a local legend once when she submitted a picture of one of her quilts to a quilting magazine, earning her the title of “The Quilt Lady in Remote Oregon.”

Living in a very small town meant letters from admirers across the country always found their way to her – even without an address. This recognition enabled her to sell her quilts and make a living from her art. Alongside her husband, Dorothy journeyed across the U.S. to Native American powwows, selling her bead and feather creations and regalia at the gatherings. Yet life threw its share of challenges at Dorothy, and she can remember times when being cold and hungry were part of her everyday life. Her art and the relationships it created nourished her through the tough times.

Dorothy was enjoying the good life, running and swimming regularly, until a surgery to repair a hernia resulted in serious complications, leading to weeks of hospitalizations and subsequent surgeries. This marked the beginning of her major health challenges.

In April 2021, Dorothy’s healthcare journey took a turn toward Housecall Providers when her doctor at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center referred her to our advanced illness care program. For Dorothy, the care she receives is a lifeline. “I feel greedy that I get to have the kind of care that they [her care team] give me,” Dorothy reflects. “I feel very fortunate that I have them. They come and visit me, which is great because I feel lonely and isolated most days.”

When her care team changed due to the program’s expansion, Dorothy found comfort in her new nurse, Glory Coates, RN, who shares her passion for quilting. This connection not only eased the transition but also opened doors to future collaborations. Dorothy and Glory plan to quilt together, ensuring that art and the camaraderie continue to blossom.

Amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dorothy used her creative skills for the greater good, sewing over 600 masks to help community members protect themselves when masks were scarce.

More recently, when Dorothy expressed her desire to enter her quilts in Quiltopia Oregon but lacked the funds to do so, Glory submitted a request to the Housecall Providers Patient Assistance Fund. The approval of her entrance fee expenses meant the world to Dorothy. “It is a dream come true that my quilts will be seen by so many, since I have had them in bags for years,” she said.

As a fellow quilter, Glory is not just Dorothy’s nurse but also her advocate who understands the importance of embracing and supporting her patients’ creative spirit. Glory is excited to be bringing Dorothy’s four quilts to Salem for the event, a testament to the kind of care and compassion that runs through all the Housecall Providers programs. Patients are individuals with unique stories and passions, deserving of support and understanding. Dorothy’s journey is a story of resilience, artistic expression, and the power of healthcare providers who go the extra mile to support their patients’ well-being.

If you are interested in contributing to the Housecall Providers Patient Assistance Fund, please contact Kim Swan at kswan@housecallproviders.org.


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