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Video: Separated by glass, connected by love

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BRATTLEBORO — Area nursing homes have been in full lockdown for nearly two months in an effort to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

But these safety precautions have led to concerns of isolation as residents remain disconnected from their loved ones. Pine Heights at Brattleboro Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation has been using technology to help keep residents connected with their families, but it didn’t have that personal touch.

That’s when the nursing home came up with the idea of the visiting window.

Pine Heights has designated a window in front of the building where families can reserve a time to visit their loved ones. Using a phone, residents can talk to their family members while able to see them.

See more photos in the online gallery.

Diane Sullivan, the administrator at Pine Heights, said the residents love the window and she thinks the families do, too. The window has added something that technology could not — a human touch, even if it’s through a glass barrier.

“We recognized that our families and residents are just missing each other so immensely,” Sullivan said. “We know that there is a pane of glass, but we thought if we could just bring them together closer, with that glass between them, it could help.”

Michael Carey of Brattleboro has visited his sister, Pine Heights resident Sharon Newell, regularly for the last two and half years since her stroke. He said it’s been difficult not seeing her for the last six weeks because of the coronavirus concerns.

When he was contacted about the visiting window, he was thrilled.

“It’s great to have that face-to-face interaction, versus just talking on the phone,” Carey said. “It’s nice to see Sharon, make sure she looks well, feeling healthy. It’s been a blessing.”

As the visiting window appears to be a success, Pine Heights is hoping to add ways for families to visit the residents as the lockdown of the facility goes on into the foreseeable future.

On Thursday, May 14, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a parade with the residents’ family members driving through the parking lot. Pine Heights administrators ask that people participating in the parade not exchange gifts or get out of their vehicles.


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