On March 13, facilities like Dunbar Village in Bay St. Louis were put on lockdown to protect the elders from exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). 

“It’s been tough not being able to see her,” Linda Breland said. 

Breland’s mother Barbara Bourgeois has been a resident at Dunbar Village for the past year. 

On March 19, Barbara turned 87 and Dunbar Village provided a way for her children to wish her a Happy Birthday. 

The program is called “Sharing Love Through a Window,” Dunbar Village Executive Director Amy Ivey said. 

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, family and friends can schedule appointments to visit their loved ones. Each visit is a 15-minute interval, she said. 

The elders are brought to a window so they can see their families and friends, Amy said. 

Last Thursday, Linda – along with her siblings Loretta Thomas and Ricky Bourgeois –surprised their mom with a window visit and sang “Happy Birthday” to her. 

“It was emotional,” Loretta said. “I’m just glad we got to physically see her. Things change so quickly with her health and we are not there to do the little things. It took a burden off me.” 

Loretta said that Barbara is used to daily visits from at least one of her children and Ricky calls her every day at 4 p.m. to check on her. 

“We really miss our mom,” Linda said. “I’m grateful we got to see her. We are grateful for everything Dunbar has done protecting her because she is so vulnerable.” 

Since the lockdown, Amy said that employees are screened every time they come into the building. 

“The staff has really stepped up looking out for each of the elders,” she said. “The elders overall are thankful for being taken care of. We’ve been trying to FaceTime with families more and the window visits are a way to keep them connected. It helps that we have people here so compassionate already doing everything to comfort them.” 

In adherence to social distancing guidelines, Amy said the elders are participate in doorway activities and small group (under 10 people) activities. 

“We’re still trying to keep some normalcy around here and take it day-by-day,” she said. “There’s a lot of thinking outside the box going on around here.” 

Loretta said she’s told her mother that she is in a “good place.” 

Linda said that she wants people to realize the importance of social distancing. 

“The whole purpose is to get people to stay home,” she said. “Our parents and grandparents are so vulnerable. Her life matters and it’s true. We’re practicing it (social distancing).” 

Linda added that she is grateful for everything the staff at Dunbar Village is doing for her mother. 

“Everything Dunbar Village has done is to protect them,” she said. “It’s hard not seeing her. She cried and we cried. It’s the next best thing when they see you. It has been tough, but her life matters, my life matters. Social distancing will hopefully nip this in the bud.” 

Ricky said that “you don’t realize how important it is until you can’t touch them.” 

“It reminds me of what people say, ‘I wish I could hug my Mama one more time,’’’ Ricky said. “She was right there in front of me and I couldn’t hug her. It just breaks my heart.”

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