Window Visits Reconnect Couple Married 50 Years, Separated by COVID-19

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Mimi and Papa, as they asked to be called, celebrated their 50th anniversary in New Zealand last year. Now, the couple, college sweethearts, is separated by glass.

“I have not seen him since he left me on the seventh of April,” said Mimi who resides in Weston with her husband.

She said doctors told her Papa suffered a stroke after contracting COVID-19. 

“I called 911 and he went off in the ambulance to Norwalk Hospital,” she said.

Two weeks later, he was transferred to Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford for rehab. 

One of the more painful parts of the coronavirus pandemic is the rule that patients can’t have visitors. Their loved ones can’t be by their bedsides as they recover.

The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in New Zealand, in 2019.

Gaylord is now giving their families a window into their patients' progress. 

Once a week, Mimi and Papa get 15 minutes to chat over the phone in front of a window together. 

They’ve had virtual visits too, but it’s not the same as seeing each other in person.

“Your mind goes through all kinds of thoughts about what your husband is going to look like,” she said.

As you can imagine, Mimi wishes she could be the one helping nurse her husband back to health.

“That was my impulse to be in the hospital sitting with him and visiting him and encouraging him in person and hugging him,” she said.

The window visits take place by appointment every Tuesday and Thursday. Gaylord Hospital said 16 families per day are able to have private time with their loved ones through this program, which gives patients encouragement and their loved ones peace of mind.

“Today was the first day that while we were visiting he didn’t sit in the wheelchair at all.  He was walking up and down the hallway,” said Mimi excitedly after watching husband’s progress with her own eyes.

If Papa continues to make strides, he’ll be headed home in a week. 

His wife knows what she’ll do first.

“Give him a big hug,” she laughed.

Mimi asked NBC Connecticut to pass along a message to those who’ve helped keep the couple connected.

“I want to give them all a huge thank you for the care they’ve given my husband,” she said.

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