Houston nursing home patients visit families through windows, FaceTime

The COVID-19 outbreak is changing how families stay in touch with their most vulnerable loved ones.

"It’s all we got right now so we’re going to make the best of it,” said Junelle Petersen standing outside her 95-year-old father's window at Heartis Senior Living Clear Lake.

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Junelle first decided to visit her father this way on Monday. After coordinating schedules with staff to have them bring him up to the window, she was able to see him on Tuesday. She said they talked on their phones through the window for more than an hour.

For her father, Walter Stewart, the visit was uplifting.

"It means that somebody on the outside cares, and that’s worth a lot,” Walter told FOX 26 over the phone.

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Becky Hudson at Heartis saw Junelle visit her father on Tuesday.

“I wanted to run in and get a quick picture so that we can maybe inspire other communities out there of way to talk to their loved ones without coming into contact with them,” Becky explained.

Becky snapped a photo and shared it on Facebook. Soon, others began to stop by.

“It’s been real lonesome this way and not being able to get together,” said Barbara Thomas, a Heartis resident, to her daughter through a glass wall.

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Heartis staff is also helping residents reach their families through video chat apps like FaceTime.

“It’s been really interesting explaining that to them and just having some fun with it,” Becky added.

The visits are far from ideal, but for folks like Junelle aren’t taking any moment for granted.

“He’s been there for me my entire life and it’s my turn now to be there for him,” Junelle said through tears. “And, I would not have that any other way. He’s just an incredible man. Smartest man I know. First man I ever loved.”


Heartis is inviting kids at home with extra time on their hands to make videos, write letters, and send drawings to their residents. The videos can be sent to Heartis Clear Lake through their Facebook page or on Twitter at @HeartisCL.

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