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Arts in Medicine program bringing smiles to patients

When Fridays roll around at Calhoun-Liberty Hospital, the patients in the swing bed program light up. The source of these smiles is Anna Layton, an artist and musician who spreads childlike fun to all ages. “I’ve always enjoyed bringing a little brightness to somebody’s day,” says Anna, who serves as the cultural arts coordinator for the Calhoun County Public Library. But when the library closes on Fridays, Anna takes her show on the road through the Arts in Medicine program. Sponsored by the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, the program was launched by Shands Hospital in Gainesville over two decades ago. It has spread through a grant program with a focus on linking artists to healthcare in rural communities. Armed with paints, a ukulele, flute, and soothing music on CD, Anna pushes her cart along the halls of Calhoun-Liberty Hospital. Ninety-year-old Annie Alexander Ray can barely see, but she is able to fingerpaint while telling Anna her life story. She creates images depicting her childhood in Altha. Annie is pictured above during a recent Friday session with Anna. For the full story on this inspiring new program, check out this week’s print edition.

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