From sadness to fear and guilt to helplessness, Guild families experienced a range of emotions while separated from their loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic raged through the spring.
Janice Goodwin and her husband, Peter, went 89 days without seeing their daughter Jessica, an adult resident of Billerica House. They missed Jessica’s 23rd birthday and her weekly visits home.
“It was devastating that I could not see my child and was not able to explain to her what was going on,” Janice says.
The situation became particularly stressful when the house was quarantined after three of the house’s five residents tested positive for the coronavirus. Jessica, who is non-verbal, ran a fever for a few days but never developed any other symptoms.
“We FaceTimed with her every night and she would smile and wave,” Janice recalls.
Jessica and the other Billerica House residents benefitted from being surrounded by familiar faces. There has been relatively little staff turnover at the house, which is managed by Muyani Kasune. “The staff trained the new staff who came in and helped them learn about the individuals,” he reports.
Ann Kailath and George Verghese missed their twice-weekly visits with their daughter Amaya. Prior to the pandemic, the three would often gather for a meal of sushiand ice cream – two of the Norfolk House resident’s favorite foods.
“It was quite traumatic for us when we couldn’t see her,” says George. “There was a hole in our lives.”
Like his colleagues throughout The Guild, Norfolk House manager Michael Weunsch ensured that the residents stayed in close contact with their families through FaceTime and Zoom calls.
“Seeing Amaya on FaceTime every day was wonderful,” Ann says. “We could see that she was in good spirits and happy. It really helped us stay connected.”
While the families struggled with being physically distanced from their loved ones, they were comforted to know that they were safe at The Guild. “It was hard not being with Jessica,” Janice says, “but we knew that The Guild was taking good care of her.”