June 21, 2019
Heartfelt Gifts Make ‘Cuddles for Noah’ Possible
Thanks to a spark ignited by 20-year-old Cowley College student Hunter Ferguson, families at William Newton Hospital who experience the heartbreaking loss of a stillbirth have been given the gift of time. This spring, donors, caregivers, and families converged to bring a CuddleCot to the Family Birthing Center in Winfield.
A CuddleCot, made by FlexMort, is a cot with cooling abilities for stillborn babies. The device allows families to spend time with their babies in the hospital a little while longer before the baby’s body is sent to the funeral home.
After learning of the unique CuddleCot product from an online story, Ferguson was motivated to help her local hospital, one that many of her family and friends trust to deliver their children. Inspired by her aunt who lost baby Noah at 20 weeks, Ferguson started the fundraiser in February.
Ferguson felt compelled to help fulfill Noah’s life purpose. “His life was so short and he didn’t really get to make an impact on anyone but our family,” remarked Ferguson. “I thought maybe this was what he was supposed to do and that he was doing that through me.”
She described her decision to pursue raising funds for a CuddleCot at William Newton Hospital, “It’s hard to explain, but once I heard about the CuddleCot, it just felt like something I was supposed to do in my heart.”
William Newton Healthcare Foundation Director Annika Morris and William Newton Hospital Director of Marketing Sarah Bryant worked with Ferguson to establish a fund and select ‘Cuddles for Noah' as a fitting name for the project. In Hebrew, Noah means “peacefully at rest by the Lord.”
Morris recalled meeting Ferguson around the same time the Cowley CourierTraveler was writing a feature story about the project.
“This story is amazing,” Morris asserted. “The article was published about Hunter’s idea for honoring her cousin and in less than 12 hours we had a donor stepping up to take care of everything, in addition to a couple of donations that came through soon after.”
Ferguson’s project was a catalyst for connecting a number of individuals who understood how a CuddleCot can help. Heather Waggoner, Cuddles for Noah donor and mom who experienced a tragic loss herself, was eager to help.
“Heather had been talking to us about a CuddleCot since losing Lilly,” said William Newton Hospital Obstetrics Supervisor, Debbie Marrs, RN. “She educated us from a patient perspective and helped build a relationship with Choices Medical Clinic.”
Choices Medical Clinic of Wichita provides perinatal hospice service, and for Waggoner, helped with memory keepsakes, provided bereavement literature, offered spiritual guidance, and stayed connected afterwards for support.
“We did all we could to help the Waggoner family with something difficult,” said Debbie Entz, BSN, RN, RCMS, perinatal hospice nurse and sonographer at Choices Medical Clinic.
Two local businesses, Shelley Family Funeral Home and Schmidt Jewelers, joined in the cause. The funeral home covered the entire cost of the CuddleCot while the jewelry store donated three plaques to be placed on the equipment and case in honor of the donors and babies born sleeping.
Joseph Shelley spoke to why he picked up the phone to call the foundation after reading the article, “It’s important that families have the opportunity to spend as much time as possible with their loved ones. That’s the main reason why we did this.”
The total raised through all donations was $4,209.00. Not only was enough money raised to pay for the CuddleCot, but the hospital now has funding to provide bereavement training to staff and volunteers.
“Anyone who has contact with grieving families will be able to receive this much needed education – nurses, dietary, environmental services, and even the auxiliary members,” stated Morris.
Marrs echoed Morris’ comment, “The hospital as a whole will benefit from the bereavement training. We appreciate it so much that we can better take care of our patients who have to go through this loss.”
With sincere appreciation of each contribution, Marrs thanked the Shelleys, Waggoners, and Schmidts before concluding, “Thank you, Hunter, for having the gumption at such a young age to get something started. It’s incredible how this has all come together.”
Ferguson reflected once more on the purpose behind Cuddles for Noah, “You never want to need a CuddleCot, but it is so important.”
Learn more about the William Newton Healthcare Foundation
Take a closer look at Ferguson’s journey throughout the project
With many meeting for the first time, Cuddles for Noah project contributors gather in the Family Birthing Center to honor the successful acquisition of a CuddleCot at William Newton Hospital. From left: The Waggoners, Cole, Heather, Nathan, and Zoey; William Newton Hospital obstetrical nurses Erin Champlin, BSN, RN, CBE, and Farrah Gomez, RN; Choices Medical Clinic Nurse Manager Debbie Entz, BSN, RN, RGMS; William Newton Healthcare Foundation Director Annika Morris; William Newton Hospital Obstetrics Supervisor Debbie Marrs, RN; Choices Medical Clinic receptionist and volunteer Susan Wilson; Hunter Ferguson; Schmidt Jewelers co-owner Blanche Schmidt; and Shelley Family Funeral Home owners Lydia and Joseph Shelley.