Vaccine Arrives at Parkway Place

Vaccine arrived at Parkway PlaceOn Tuesday, Dec. 29, CVS pharmacists and technicians arrived at Parkway Place in Houston and Buckner Villas in Austin bringing with them hope for nursing residents and associates – the COVID-10 vaccine.

The two senior living communities became the first Buckner communities to receive doses of the vaccine for residents and associates in their Skilled Nursing care areas. Leaders at all six communities are working with partnering pharmacies, like CVS, to schedule free clinics as soon as possible.

Dimmitry Cooke, a CNA staff coordinator at Parkway Place, was the first associate at the community to receive the vaccine. Cooke and the other associates and residents will receive their required second dose of the vaccine from CVS in three to four weeks.

“Being able to offer the vaccine to the residents and associates in nursing who choose to receive it is a great first step, but we can’t stop until everyone in our senior living communities has the opportunity to be vaccinated,” said Abraham Mathew, executive director of Parkway Place.

It is not yet known when residents in assisted living, memory care and independent living will have the option to be vaccinated.

First employee receiving the vaccine.Buckner communities are among the 2,000 long-term care homes across Texas that are receiving the vaccine as part of the state’s first phase of distribution. According to CVS Health District Leader John Fratamico, approximately 275,000 long-term care residents and staff will be vaccinated over the next twelve weeks.

As part of an educational campaign to help residents and associates decide whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Buckner created a series of videos with Dr. Neeta Nayak, medical director for Ventana by Buckner. The videos can be viewed at

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit and consult your personal physician.

As we grapple with COVID-19, let’s remember that faith and love are vital components of healing

Two women sitting next to each other

There is a healing science associated with touch, from reducing stress hormones to increasing levels of melatonin and serotonin.

Editor’s note: This article was written by Buckner President and CEO Albert Reyes and originally posted in The Dallas Morning News as part of their ongoing opinion commentary on faith, called Living Our Faith. 

I believe in the healing power of science and medicine. I also believe in the healing power of love and faith. They are not diametrically opposed when caring for those who are sick and the most at-risk.

We are half a year into the coronavirus pandemic. In those six months, we have learned a lot about the virus, from how it is transmitted to COVID-19 symptoms and testing. The country’s top health officials now believe an approved vaccine is right around the corner.

During this period, we have also learned a lot about the human soul, or at least we validated what many of us already knew. People need people. There is a healing science associated with touch, from reducing stress hormones to increasing levels of melatonin and serotonin. The University of Miami even created an entire research institute to study the effects of touch therapy. There is an emotional and spiritual healing that comes with a human connection.

Our faith is also a vital component of healing. It’s easy to recall the biblical images of lone figures like Jonah and Moses discovering strength in their faith through solitude, but let us not forget there is a reason God sent Jesus to earth in the flesh, what theologians call the Incarnation. For many of us, faith grows stronger through fellowship. Companionship reminds us that we are loved by others as well as by God.

Thousands of our fellow Texans are missing those reminders that they are loved. Many senior adults residing in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are faced with a second pandemic — one brought on by isolation and loneliness. Senior living communities have been closed to visitors since mid-March and even recent policies aimed at a slow, safe reopening do not offer a real solution.

Isolation and environmental sterilization are easier solutions to propose when not personally impacted by the virus, but with more than half a million Texans testing positive for COVID-19, the odds of being personally impacted are increasing. I used to be insulated from the impact of the virus. Now I’m not.

Read the rest of the article in The Dallas Morning News.

Buckner Retirement Services residents weigh in on pandemic impact

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According to a recent survey conducted by Buckner Retirement Services, 96% of senior living residents agree with social distancing and visitation restrictions in place. The survey was distributed to 140 senior adults living across six different Buckner Retirement communities in Texas in early May. The anonymous survey results provide a look into the communities and show how senior adults feel about current safety policies, how they are spending their time and what they feel are the most inconvenient parts of the pandemic.

In the survey, residents were asked what they do for free time during the pandemic. The top answers were 74% are reading, 29% are napping and 63% can be found on the phone with loved ones.

More than 75% of seniors surveyed listed family visits as something they miss most. Other top activities missed within the communities include going to church (56%) and group dining (54%).

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Additionally, residents were asked about inconveniences brought on by the pandemic; they listed wearing masks, visitation restrictions and a lack of group activities as their top answers. Due to the visitation restrictions, senior adults are staying connected to loved ones in a variety of ways. The survey covers the ways they are communicating with family and friends such as letters, texting, social media and video calls.

When it comes to video chatting, 55% admitted they never used the technology before shelter-in-place orders. However, 52% of residents plan to continue using the technology beyond pandemic circumstances.

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“We understand how difficult it is for our residents and their family members and friends to be physically apart during the pandemic, so our goal with the survey and infographic was to provide everyone outside our communities with some more insight,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

“The survey results and infographic help show how residents are staying connected and spending their time, as well as how they feel overall. We are so appreciative of everyone across Texas working together to help protect one of our most vulnerable populations during this pandemic.”

Senior living residents are in turn appreciative for the staff caring for them each day, as senior living staff was one of the top answers to the question, “What are you most thankful for?”

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All Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13, as well as thorough employee screening procedures. All protocols are consistent with guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and PreventionCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Download a PDF of the full infographic with additional information.

BRS Now Hiring

As cities and counties around Texas and the U.S. move to shelter-in-place policies to combat COVID-19, operations of non-essential businesses are limited. As a result, people in the hospitality industry are looking for temporary work, prompting Buckner Retirement Services to spread the word it is hiring.

Buckner is the largest faith-based nonprofit provider of senior living communities in Texas with communities in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Beaumont, San Angelo and Longview. All six communities are hiring.

There are open positions in the fields of culinary services, housekeeping, maintenance, wellness and nursing. “If you have hospitality industry or service industry experience, such as restaurants, schools, childcare, hotels, retail or healthcare, we want you to join our team,” said Brian Robbins, vice president of BRS.

An article by USA Today, reports that if the outbreak worsens, approximately 24% of employers plan to downsize beyond the temporary suspension of jobs.

Senior living communities are essential businesses because they care for one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19, senior adults. Communities like Buckner Villas in Austin and Calder Woods in Beaumont require around-the-clock staff to care for residents.

“Our teams at each Buckner community are heroes,” said Robbins, “And we want to continue to provide them the support they need in order to give our residents the best care possible. We need to make sure our employment in each community is at capacity so everyone has the opportunity to rest and recharge.”

Buckner is not just looking for temporary employees, Robbins said. “If someone comes to us from the restaurant industry and only wants to work with our dining teams for a couple of months until the world returns to normal, that’s fine. But I strongly hope people will consider the long-term career potential Buckner and the senior living industry offers.

“Whether you cook or serve food, maintain our facilities, clean rooms, or practice medicine, joining our team will provide you with a true mission and a passion for making a difference in the lives of our residents.”

In addition to utilizing job boards and Buckner social media pages, Robbins is turning to the news media to help alert Texans about Buckner job opportunities. He was interviewed by KXAN in Austin about the value of employment in senior living, as well as news stations in Longview and Beaumont.

Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Buckner has worked diligently to mitigate risks to staff and residents by following guidelines and policies outlined by the CDC, CMS and local and state government. This same caution and meticulousness will apply to job candidates, as preliminary interviews will be carried out through phone and video conferencing platforms, while in-person candidates will be tested and surveyed prior to entering the building. Some interviews may even happen outdoors, weather permitting.

For more information about Buckner Retirement Services, visit; for a list of job openings go to and search by community.

Coronavirus: Life Inside Our Senior Living Communities

To reduce the risks to the health and wellbeing of senior adults residing at our communities and minimize exposure to COVID-19, Buckner Retirement Services implemented a limited access visitation policy. However, we understand the concern and uncertainty the loved ones of our residents must be feeling.

We asked the leaders at our communities in Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Houston, Longview and San Angelo to provide some insight into their residents’ wellbeing and what life is like as we work together to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus while continuing to inspire happiness in their lives.

What is the overall atmosphere like in the community? How is the morale of our senior adults?

“Our residents have been very positive about the steps we are taking to protect their health and safety. They have many questions, but they are valid concerns and questions that need consideration. We are taking the time to sit down and explain our measures on a one-to-one level as well as working to communicate to the whole community.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Most of our residents are understanding and supportive. Some are a bit apprehensive about the unusual circumstances, justifiably so, but we are doing everything possible to explain the reason for the changes and to ensure they are comfortable during the process. Overall, life within our walls is normal, as we are just trying to reduce the outside world coming in for now.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“We are keeping everything upbeat and positive with a business-as-usual attitude, and the overall attitude of our residents is positive as a result. Many residents and family members are expressing their appreciation for the professional way we are watching out for them during a difficult time.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Our Members have been extremely understanding and appreciative of our efforts to keep the community safe. Most of them are media savvy, and they are not surprised by the decisions we’ve made in light of the news. They are calm and feel safe, and many have said they would rather be at Ventana than their former homes.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

“There has been an overall welcoming and appreciative response to the measures put in place. Our residents understand that the protocols were put in place to keep them healthy and safe.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

Are residents continuing to socialize within the community or are they staying in their rooms?

“I have not noticed a change in the atmosphere. Our residents are going about their social day per usual while our staff ensures every precaution is taken to keep our common areas clean.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“Residents are finding a balance between practicing safe social distancing while also making sure to still talk and laugh with each other and with our team members.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

How are residents staying connected with their friends and family during the limited access visitation policy?

“We are working to set up some technology stations to help people connect with family and friends through social media and video calling platforms like FaceTime and Skype.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Many of the residents are updating family through text messages and others enjoy talking on their cell phones using the speakerphone. Some use Facebook and keep in touch by looking at pictures posted by family members. One resident has a USB picture frame, and her son sends her family photos to load on her frame. It runs constantly.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Telephone calls seem to be the preferred way residents are communicating with their family and friends, but some are also using FaceTime capabilities on their phones or tablets as well as sending emails and texts.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

Has there been any change to community activities or groups?

“As a precaution, we canceled any of the activities led by volunteers from outside the community as well as group outings off campus like a luncheon and a trip to the Houston Holocaust Museum. As of March 14, we’ve also suspended in-house group activities while ensuring our residents have an abundance of individual options to keep them engaged.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are working hard to keep life within the community as normal as possible, but for the safety of our residents, we have suspended our group activities and classes.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

Are the dining rooms and restaurants still operating normally? Are residents eating in the community areas?

“In order to mirror the policies implemented on a local, state and national level, our dining facilities are now delivering meals to our residents’ rooms.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Our dining team is hard at work to ensure residents have our full menu available to them in the comfort of their own rooms. It’s like a hotel.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“Even before we had to update our dining policy and close the dining rooms, we noticed a shift in the number of residents opting to have their meals delivered to their apartments. It’s good to see that we are all on the same page when it comes to ensuring their health and safety is the number one priority.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed?

“Residents are communicating with staff and asking questions about protocols but staying calm and going about their usual business. The staff is here to answer all of their questions, and we are taking the time to be there for them and their families.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are doing everything possible to increase our communication to residents and their family members so everyone is comfortable during an unusual time. This includes letters, emails, in-person discussions and townhall meetings.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“The most noticeable change is obviously the lack of outside people on our campus due to our limitation policy. We are also screening all approved visitors, staff and vendors, and we’ve closed our thrift shop. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for our residents as we all work together to protect the community.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

“The biggest changes are on the operations side of things with how our team has prepared. I’m not seeing much change with our Members, which is a sign we are doing our jobs well.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

Faith Focus: Seeing what you didn’t before

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Last week, Buckner Senior Living and Cooper Aerobics announced a collaboration that will bring Cooper experts to the Ventana by Buckner campus in Dallas. In the process of the day, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Kenneth Cooper and learn more about what sets him apart.

Fifty years ago, Cooper wrote Aerobics, which introduced the world to the benefits of aerobic workouts. Prior to the book, many people were discouraged to exercise after the age of 40 as experts believed it would shorten a person’s lifespan.

When Cooper’s book not only contradicted the contemporary thought, but put forward the notion that regular exercise would actually prolong health and lives, he was called a crackpot. Potential patients were steered away from him. But he stuck it out and his theories have proven true.

He’s revolutionized what it means to be healthy as we age. He’s even proving it day after day personally, having run more than 38,000 miles at the age of 87. His concepts have helped popularize the notion of each person needing to walk 10,000 steps daily. He trained a World Cup team. He has promoted healthy living around the globe.

And all that has led people to live far different lives than they once believed possible.

That struck me as extremely similar to what we do through Buckner Family Pathways and Family Hope Centers: Change individual’s and families’ perceptions of themselves and empower them to live lives they didn’t think possible.

Like Cooper’s efforts, the work of changing someone’s long-held beliefs is difficult. But just like the good doctor, we have examples we can point to where lives have been transformed. Single parents who have graduated from college. Families that are strong and raising amazing young people. Cycles of poverty that have been broken.

The impossible is possible – even in your life.

Do you believe it?

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. –Matthew 17:20

Friday photo: Celebrating one year of Ventana by Buckner

Ventana by Buckner

One year ago today, Buckner Senior Living broke ground on Ventana by Buckner, a high-rise Life Care community set to open in summer 2019. Construction is now well underway at the corner of Northwest Highway and Central Expressway in Dallas. The two-tower, 12-story community will provide independent living, assisted living, memory care, long-term and skilled nursing, as well as state-of-the-art rehab services.

Future residents already gather regularly as excitement for the community builds. Like one future resident, Maureen Broadnax, said, “I’ve never seen a place like Ventana, and I wanted to get in on the beginning. It’s going to be a new adventure, and I’m ready!”

Parkway Place begins $12.8 million renovation and expansion project

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Parkway Place, a nonprofit faith-based senior living community in Houston, is undergoing a $12.8 million renovation and expansion project to improve existing areas and create a new state-of-the-art skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

The project has already started and is expected to finish in the fall. The community currently consists of 159 independent living residences, 58 assisted living apartments, 24 memory care apartments and 60 skilled nursing rooms. The renovation project will transform the skilled nursing rooms into private suites, which will reduce the total number to 40. The project also includes the addition of a bistro-style dining venue, as well as renovation of the existing dining rooms, activity rooms, sitting areas and common spaces.

“The completion of the renovations will benefit current and future residents,” said Susan Phelps, executive director at Parkway Place. “The new state-of-the-art skilled nursing center is going to provide more privacy for residents. Since we opened in 1998 the rooms have been private or semi-private, and we wanted to change that. While we are losing some rooms, we will make up for it by improving the overall comfort of residents. They are our main priority, and we will do anything to ensure they have a happy place to call home.”

“As with everything we do, our goal in making these renovations is to further the Parkway Place legacy of serving Houston senior adults with excellence,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services. “Parkway Place has been part of Houston since 1955, so our history in the local community is rich. The project is going smoothly, and we anticipate construction will finish on time. I believe the changes will really make a difference in the lives of senior adults, and that is our main goal. We are here to serve them, and completing this project will give them an updated, beautiful place to live.”

Parkway Place partnered with Hill and Wilkinson General Contractors, D2 Architecture, LLC and interior designer Spellman Brady & Company for the project.

For more information on the renovations or to learn more about life at Parkway Place, call LuLu today at 281-677-5912.

Buckner Villas completes $29.8 million expansion and renovation project

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Austin is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, and by 2040 the population of adults 65 and older is expected to comprise nearly one-fifth of the Central Texas population, according to the Aging Services Council of Central Texas.

To meet the increasing demand for independent senior living apartments, Buckner Villas, a faith-based senior living community in North Austin, recently completed its $29.8 million expansion and renovation project. The expansion project added 69 one- and two-bedroom apartment homes and 70 underground parking spaces. The community also renovated and expanded common areas including dining room, bistro, movie theater, meeting space, salon and spa.

By increasing the independent living housing and amenities, the community will now have the opportunity to serve up to 138 additional senior adults.

“We’re elated to accommodate more senior adults at Buckner Villas,” said Doyle Antle, executive director. “New residents have already started moving in and are looking forward to living a lively lifestyle with our current and new amenities. This was nearly a two-year project, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the results. We needed to plan for the future, and this helps us grow with the Austin metro area. It shows that more senior adults are willing to move to an independent living apartment at a senior living community and still keep their active lifestyles.”

“Austin is growing rapidly, and we want to provide for the baby boomers who will soon enter the senior living market,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president for Buckner Retirement Services. “We’re seeing more senior adults moving to Texas to retire, especially in Austin, so we’re proud to give them such a beautiful place to call home. The new common areas and amenities are fantastic, and this expansion wouldn’t have been possible without our partners Hill and Wilkinson General Contractors, Barbara J. Vessels Interiors Inc., and D2 Architecture.”

Faith Focus: ‘Give him yours’

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“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8

Pastor Cuong Manh Tran knew he needed help. More specifically, he knew he needed a kidney.

After decades of pastoring Mobberly Baptist Church’s small Vietnamese congregation, Tran had had to step down due to rapidly declining health. He spent hours on dialysis treatments each day and eventually learned he would need a transplant if he hoped to live much longer. He and his wife waited prayerfully for the right match to come. Expecting the kidney to come from a deceased person, they understood the wait might take years.

What he didn’t expect, however, was for the donation to come from someone living. Someone, in fact, he called friend.

77-year-old John Ramsey, a Buckner Westminster Place resident who at the time had known Tran for just a few years, saw his friend’s need. He joined the family in prayer, but the answer to those prayers led to an unexpected conviction: Ramsey donated his own kidney.

“I was praying for Brother Tran, and it was as if the Lord said, ‘What’s wrong with your kidney? You give him yours.’ And I just knew I had to do this.”

Today, both Ramsey and Tran are healthy. Tran is back working at the church occasionally. Ramsey is back enjoying resident activities at Westminster Place. They even spent the holidays together.

Tran and Ramsey’s story is a beautiful picture of the gospel—one of the closest we may see this side of heaven. Giving of oneself so another might live. This is what Christ did for us.

Ramsey gave comfort, security and assurance of health so his friend might have a chance at life.

God gave his Son, and the Son gave his life, so we might have eternal life.

This week, how can you take time to reflect on the gift of the gospel more? How will you let the undeserved gift of eternal life impact your life today?

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