Gwinnett County

Senior home sets up tents to help residents visit family members amid COVID-19 pandemic

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The COVID-19 pandemic has separated loved ones for months in some cases. Many senior living communities have restricted visits of family members of their residents to help reduce and possibility of spreading the virus.

It's been very hard on so many families when their last visits with their loved ones were back in March.

Nancy Debeliso told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen it has been the longest five months of her life.

Her mother, Grace Reed, 82, is a resident of Discovery Village at Sugarloaf in Gwinnett County where she receives memory care.

But on Monday, as long as protective clothing was worn, Debeliso was among the first to call on a loved one. A visit she says meant the world to them both.

She told Petersen that the facility set up a three-sided tent with a clear plastic curtain in the middle. Debeliso was on one side and her mother on the other. They could safely see and talk to each other.


“Seeing her face to face and hearing her talk, I felt so much better. I even had her stand up and show everybody how cute she looked,” DeBeliso said. “I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about it.”

Debeliso said the 30 minutes went by in a flash, but she savored every second. She told Petersen that during the visit, a large group of her mother’s friends watched them through a nearby window.

“Mom has lived here five years. All the residents here -- we all know everybody and love everybody. So when I saw them, that was hard. I hope their families come and see them too,” DeBeliso said.

She said she wished she could have hugged her mother, but they still chatted and smiled through the entire 30 minutes. DeBeliso said she hopes it won't be another five months before her next visit.

“She doesn’t realize it’s been that long, but I have. I hate to say it’s harder on me, because it sounds selfish. But I’m just happy we got to see each other today,” DeBeliso said.

Administrators at Discovery Village told Petersen that they hope to have the families of all 99 of their residents visit in the coming weeks.