The coronavirus pandemic has left seniors in residential facilities with no hope of personal contact with their family members and loved ones.
On Monday, 88-year-old Fay Palmby, a resident of Pacifica Senior Living in Chino Hills, was able to step into the fresh air and visit her daughter, Dawn Meyer, for the first time since the pandemic.
Neither she nor her daughter had to wear a mask and they were able to hear each other without interference under sunny skies and a cool breeze.
The visit was made possible by Chino Hills resident and entrepreneur Tim Ward who invented the “Clear Curtain Booth,” an enclosed vinyl booth that blocks the transmission of the virus.
The dimensions are 8-foot by 5-foot, with a height of 7 feet.
Mr. Ward and his wife Jill were frustrated whenever they visited Mrs. Ward’s mother, a resident at Pacifica on 6500 Butterfield Ranch Road, because of the heavy visitation restrictions necessary to keep residents and staff safe.
They got the idea for the “Clear Curtain Booth” after watching the struggles between residents and family members.
“Assisted living residents are isolated and scared,” Mr. Ward said. “Our elderly citizens are suffering from depression and health issues because of these precautions.”
Mr. Ward, president and founder of Mega Creations & Entertainment, a manufacturer of innovative inflatables for event production companies, decided to adapt his faltering business to bridge the gap between residents and families.
“COVID-19 took a toll on our newly started business,” he said. “The event industry completely stopped.”
He said the visiting booths are 80 percent cheaper than plexiglass.
They can be moved around and set up with ease, and residents can hear through the booth much better than through plexiglass.
Mr. Ward and his employees watched as Pacifica’s activities director Mary Pabst wheeled Ms. Palmby into the booth and laid eyes on her waiting daughter.
“I wish every young person could see what these isolated seniors are going through every day,” Mr. Ward said.
Ms. Pabst said the booths are awesome. “The residents were getting really depressed,” she said. “They’re now able to sit outside without masks and have lunch with their family while being in compliance with social distancing guidelines,” she said.
The booth has become so popular she is already booking visits for the middle of July, she said. She is scheduling six one-hour appointments Monday through Friday.
Pacifica purchased 78 booths for their other locations. After watching the mother and daughter reunion, Mr. Ward and his employees headed out to Inland Christian Home on Mountain Ave. in Ontario to install three booths.