Published on March 17, 2020

Project Stay Close Donates $5,000 to NICU Patient Assistance Fund

Project Stay Close presents $ 5,000 donation to NICU

Project Stay Close representatives Brad Stevens of Community Bank, Greg Burks of Renasant Bank, Keri McMillin of Effectv and Brian Rigby of SERVPRO recently presented a $5,000 donation to the NICU Patient Assistance Fund at the NMMC Women’s Hospital. Pictured receiving the donation are Jessica Fears, NICU nurse manager; Renee Nichols, NICU educator; Glenda Patterson, respiratory therapist; Ellen Friloux, vice president for NMMC Women and Children’s Services; and Steven Blaylock, HCF president.

TUPELO, Miss.—Project Stay Close recently donated $5,000 to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Patient Assistance Fund at the North Mississippi Medical Center Women’s Hospital.

Project Stay Close, which was the brainchild of Keri McMillin and Brian Rigby, was launched several years ago with plans to build a facility where families could stay while their newborn was in the NICU. When Brian and Misty Rigby’s son Briggs spent five weeks in the NICU, visiting hours were limited and families had nowhere to stay overnight. “It was disheartening to see families who live an hour or two away drive in for a short visit,” Brian said. “We wanted to do something to bring parents closer to their kids.” Project Stay Close board members solicited donations from individuals and businesses, and Kerri held several fundraisers in memory of her daughter, Molly Kate.

In 2009, Women’s Hospital opened a new NICU with room for families to stay with their newborn, so the mission of Project Stay Close changed slightly, but caring for NICU families remained at its core. “When you’re expecting and you think you still have two months or more to prepare and then you’re suddenly thrown into that position as a parent, it’s the unknowns that are so scary,” Brian Rigby said. “Even though we were so scared, we realize it was a blessing because of the people we met here. I think God lets us experience these situations so that we can help reduce stress and anxiety for others who are going through the same thing we did.”

Administered by the Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi, the NICU Patient Assistance Fund helps meet the immediate needs of disadvantaged families who have a baby in the NICU. After other resources are exhausted, the NICU Patient Assistance Fund helps with meals for families, assistance with medications and medical equipment, emergent needs for clothing, funeral costs and other expenses. The fund also helps stock the Wee Care Pantry, which provides food and hygiene items for families while they stay with their baby in the NICU.

Health Care Foundation of North Mississippi is the charitable support and philanthropic entity for the North Mississippi Health Services.

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