Jill Gillmore was inspired by one of the most difficult times in her life to help others — especially the most vulnerable.
Gillmore, a Kenosha County supervisor, has spent the last two years helping mothers caring for premature infants.
In April 2015, Gillmore’s youngest daughter, Marleigh, was born 2½ months early. She weighed just three pounds and fit in the palm of her mother’s hand.
“I was at the hospital with my child, who was not in the best shape,” Gillmore said, adding that she sacrificed valuable time with her other children to care for her.
Marleigh spent 40 long days at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Racine.
After her daughter was released from the hospital, Gillmore launched Marleigh’s Ministry, a nonprofit aiming to help premature babies and their mothers.
Now, Gillmore and her entire family run the organization, which has expanded to Michigan and Texas. Gillmore and her husband, Matt, raise money for families and assemble care packages with essential items new mothers and fathers need.
“We’re working to send out care packages almost daily,” Gillmore said. “We’re continuing to advocate for preemie health care.”
On Tuesday, the mother of seven finally got to see more fruits of her family’s labors.
Gillmore raised funds and partnered with Devon Borst, philanthropy manager of the hospital’s All Saints Foundation, for a $10,000 ultrasound guided vein finder. It helps reduce pain and the number of “pokes” when inserting IVs.
“It’s a newer technology,” Gillmore said. “These babies are born so, so early or are really sick, and it’s really difficult to find their veins. This ultrasound guided vein finder helps nurses better do their job and provide babies with better quality care.”
Gillmore saw the need up close and personal when her daughter needed care.
“When my daughter was in there — she was born at 31 weeks, 9 weeks early — and she had to be poked multiple times with her IV,” Gillmore said.
“Her veins weren’t as big as a full grown baby’s,” Gillmore added. “Even with nurses who are highly-trained, highly-qualified who work in a neonatal care unit, these vein finders are very helpful. Seeing my own daughter suffer through a bursted IV and having to get poked again, you’re kind of sitting there helpless as a mother.”
The health system was gifted the new vein finder in 2016, but Gillmore got to see it for the first time Tuesday.
“All of the staff there needed to be trained on how to use the machine,” Gillmore said. “There are other departments that see this as a vital tool and are using it, too.”
Gillmore said seeing the machine, which is smaller than an iPad, “was amazing.”
“I started crying, because the quality of life and the quality of care that these babies in the NIC unit are receiving is so much more special when you only have to poke a baby one time,” Gillmore said. “There are other families that may not have to go through that amount of suffering.”