ASHBURN, Va. - After two months apart, 72-year-old Mary Winnett, was reunited with her husband Francis Xavier Winnett.
COVID-19 forced the couple to quarantine separately inside Thrive Senior Living in Ashburn. Mary lives in the Assisted Living wing and Francis is on the Memory Care floor.
The Winnetts love of 35 years was unbroken by the virus.
“Even though he is on the Memory Care floor, he has never forgotten this woman, his Mary, his queen,” said Katie Nelson, Mary’s daughter. “They adore each other.”
Nelson was also there that day in late May when her parents reunited. It was the first time she had seen her parents since the senior living community went into lock-down mid-March.
The visit was made possible through a plexiglass panel created by Thrive Senior Living Founder Jeramy Ragsdale.
“We couldn’t have residents leave the building, that wasn’t safe, and we couldn’t have residents come into the building, so we simply opened the front doors and sort of replaced the front doors with this panel,” said Ragsdale. “It rolled into place. It was easy.”
The innovative, yet simple concept, known as a “Clear Connection" panel, breaks down barriers of isolation and loneliness and allows families to connect with loved ones.
“The biggest struggle is getting people to leave when their time slot over,” Ragsdale said.
With the help of his father at his woodworking shop, Ragsdale built clear connection panels for 15 Thrive senior communities throughout the southeast. He then personally delivered each one.
“To go see that and to see those tears and to know that one little hair-brained idea that we rolled our sleeves up and did, made a difference, it was really rewarding,” said Ragsdale.
Thrive communities have not been immune to the virus. The lock-down is meant to keep the most vulnerable safe.
The panels are meant to offer hope for families waiting to hold their loved ones once again.
“My mom is a massively social person,” said Nelson. “She missed the people; she missed the interaction. When I got to see her walking and see her awareness and how she was doing, it was a big unknown weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Thrive Senior Living is comprised of 16 communities in nine different states.