New England resident Joyce Thompson and her son Sheridan, who was previously working in Wyoming in the oil fields before returning to New England due to the coronavirus, and youngest daughter, Tracy, had lost a member of their family in February with the loss of their second oldest child, Marjorie. Unfortunately, her death came shortly before the coronavirus pandemic would officially begin, forcing St. Luke’s Home to lock down the facility and have no visitation allowed for the resident’s safety.

For Joyce and Sheridan, not being able to see Tracy was hard. But knowing her throat muscles were too weak for talking made talking on the phone merely impossible. After three months of not seeing Tracy, Joyce and Sheridan finally got the news they wanted, they could see Tracy thanks to a drive-through visit.

“To see my daughter, it was terrific,” Joyce said. “I would usually go see her for a couple hours twice a week and that way I could judge how she was feeling and be able to look at her and talk to her and see her facial expressions, it was fantastic, truly awesome.”

The staff brought Tracy and some of the other residents outside with the caretakers as their friends and families slowly drove around the facility to wave and talk to their loved one. The experience was brief, but it meant a lot to the Thompson family.

“It was very heartwarming with everything going on and I credit St. Luke’s with the amount of care they are giving the patients,” Joyce said. “Tracy looked good, she didn’t appear to be depressed from the lockdown.”

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For Sheridan, the ability to say hi and see his youngest sister responding by waving and trying to communicate was one of the best memories anyone could have.

“I asked my mom ‘how come we can’t do a window visit? Because I saw some people do that on the internet and she told me they’re planning on doing something to where people can drive through and I thought ‘that works,’ Sheridan said. “It was great, everyone was concerned because we couldn’t see her really anymore, not that we were worried about her care at St. Luke’s because they’ve been great to her, but the coronavirus is spreading throughout nursing homes.”

For Sheridan, the realization that could potentially be his final time seeing his little sister made the experience even more emotional, and more of a blessing.

“She was out in the sunshine and she yelled at us so, i’m sure she recognized us, it was pretty cool, it was a big relief,” he said. “Knowing that if she does pass away, at least we got to spend some time together.”

This was the first time St. Luke’s Home had offered the drive-through experience, and given the success St. Luke’s may potentially do more services in the future.

Joyce hopes more assisted living homes will do the same treatment so that family members, and residents, can see each other and have the opportunity to see their loved one as well.

“I hope that other nursing homes are able to do that,” Joyce said. “It meant an awful lot to see her, one of the aids … she told her ‘there’s your mom and your brother and she started waving, it was beautiful, she knew we were there and it meant a lot to her too, it meant a lot for St. Luke’s to do that.”