In COVID Crisis, A Nursing Home Tribute

As the coronavirus sweeps across America, nursing homes have become synonymous with death.

A Westport family has a different story to tell.

Barbara Clouser — mother of Karen, Karla and Stacy — died Tuesday. She spent the past 6 years at Autumn Lake Healthcare in Norwalk.

“They treated her like gold,” says Stacy Clouser Shaw. “They are gutted.”

Barbara Clouser

The nursing home was always beautifully decorated, and cheerful. When Barbara’s daughters visited they were greeted kindly, and treated well. The director made sure to stop by, and say hello to Barbara and her guests.

“Mom looked great. Her hair was done, and the room was immaculate,” Stacy says. “She had 3 meals a day, in a lovely dining hall. It was very calming to the soul.”

The staff did not know Barbara before she suffered from dementia. But thanks to their care and compassion, she smiled until the end.

“They have been so gracious,” Stacy says. “They made sure we could say goodbye. They held her hand until we all called. Because of this place, we were able to live our lives without fear for her. We lost her, but there is no blame.”

The Clouser family is paying it forward. On Tuesday, Dunville’s owner Steve Carpentieri,  staff, and co-provider Big Dimps BBQ with chef Daniel Sullivan will deliver 95 boxed lunches to Autumn Lake Healthcare. It’s the daughters’ way of saying thank you, for all that the nursing home did for their beloved mother.

And for them.

4 responses to “In COVID Crisis, A Nursing Home Tribute

  1. Angela Ryan

    I am so glad you wrote this. I have spent the past 4 years consulting as a rehabilitation physician at Autumn Lake and I have come to know the entire staff there through the years. I am sorry I did not ever get to know your mother but I am happy to hear you felt she was cared for. For a number of reasons I have not been going to the nursing home for the past 6 weeks and I have been in turmoil about it. Many physicians, such as myself, are having a small crisis of purpose, finding ourselves with extra time on our hands during a medical pandemic. In regards to Autumn Lake I feel as if I have abandoned a caring, supportive staff in their time of need. I try to lend my support from afar by texting/calling and checking in, but this public recognition by a family with personal experience is what they need more than anything else at this time. Thank you for taking the time to write it as you grieve the loss of your beautiful mother under such difficult circumstances.

  2. Megan Smith

    Thank you so very much for your kind words and support. Your mom was so beloved and leaves behind an unfillable void. We look forward to a time after COVID-19 where we can join together at a memorial service for all those lost and to honor their memory. Thank you again from the bottom of our hearts. We are keeping your family close in our thoughts & prayers.

  3. Chris Baker

    I grew up with the Clouser girls in Westport in the 70s and 80s and can tell you that they were extraordinarily kind, polite, respectful, funny and altogether a beautiful reflection of their mother Barbara.

    I have not been back to Westport in decades and don’t know where they all are now but am sending hugs, huge amounts of love and profoundly uplifting thoughts to each of them. They always were (and I imagine still are) really something to behold.

  4. Karla Clouser Masiello

    Thank you Dan Woog.