Emily and Joel Long say the compassionate care they received after losing their infant daughter last summer helped them heal, and now they’re on a mission to provide that same opportunity for other Tennessee families.
Joel and Emily Long created the Helen James Foundation after losing their baby girl. Their goal is to donate a cuddle cot to all labor and delivery hospitals in Tennessee.
The Longs created the Helen James Foundation in June 2018 after they lost their daughter when Emily was 38 weeks pregnant. Their goal is to provide cuddle cots, which use a cooling device to give families more time with their newborn in the event of a loss, at all Tennessee hospitals.
They visited Regional One Health to share their mission – and their story – with the NICU and labor and delivery team at a Cuddle Cot Blessing hosted by the Regional One Health Foundation.
“Helen’s life is a blessing, and it will continue to be a blessing,” said Chaplain D’Arcy Deveaux. “These cots offer love, respect and tenderness for families in their time of need.”
Emily described how the cuddle cot helped her family.
Last June, she was 38 weeks pregnant when she suddenly could no longer feel her baby moving. She called her doctor in Nashville and was admitted to the hospital, where she and Joel were told Helen James no longer had a heartbeat.
Joel and Emily were joined by family and friends for a Cuddle Cot Blessing hosted by the Regional One Health Foundation.
After Helen James was born, Emily and Joel began the heartbreaking process of saying goodbye. While nothing could make the situation easy, they say they felt blessed by the fact that nurses brought in a cuddle cot so they would have more time with their daughter.
“It gave us three days with our precious baby girl, and our family was able to travel to Nashville to be with all of us,” Emily said. “It was truly unbelievable to have that time.”
Emily and Joel started thinking about what would happen to families who lost a baby and didn’t have access to a cuddle cot. “We have friends who have had losses who only had 30 minutes with their baby, and we couldn’t imagine having that little time,” Emily said.
At the same time, loved ones were asking what they could do to help the couple. Emily and Joel decided to look outward and turn their grief into something helpful by raising money to buy a second cuddle cot for the hospital where Helen James was delivered.
“The response was incredible,” Emily said. “Within a week we were at $20,000, and donations kept coming in from family, friends and even strangers who had experienced loss and know how important that time is. It’s been healing, and a way of channeling our grief.
The NICU and labor and delivery teams are grateful for the Longs’ gift. Linda Hughlett, associate chief nursing officer, remarked, “In difficult situations, our families can have their sweet loved one with them because of their gift.”
“We’re grateful we’ve been able to do it.”
And Regional One Health is grateful for their philanthropy.
As Linda Hughlett, associate chief nursing officer, remarked, “In difficult situations, our families can have their sweet loved one with them because of their gift.”
The Longs have already donated eight cuddle cots.
They continue to raise money online at https://donorbox.org/helen-james-foundation, and are talking about planning an annual event for the foundation.
It’s an exciting time for the foundation – and for the Long family.
Emily and Joel not only look forward to donating more cuddle cots and seeking additional ways to support grieving families, they are eagerly anticipating the birth of a baby boy in December.
Regional One Health Foundation is proud to partner with philanthropists like the Longs to help provide excellent patient care. For more, visit www.regionalonehealth.org/foundation.