PHOTO CAPTION: (left to right) Rick Dunkin, facility manager for Center for Family Love (CFL) Okarche, Okla., assists CFL resident, Caleb, as he gives Santa his Christmas gift list from a COVID-19 prevention visiting booth that Nortek Air Solutions, designed, built and donated. (Photo Credit: Center for Family Love)
Custom-engineered visitation booth features 100-percent outdoor air, HEPA filters and UVC disinfection to protect Center of Family Love residents from COVID-19 during family visitation.
Okarche, Okla. COVID-19 precaution was the Grinch that tried to steal the 2020 holiday season’s annual family and Santa Claus visitation from the intellectually and physically disabled residents at the Center of Family Love (CFL).
However, custom HVAC equipment manufacturer Nortek Air Solutions (NAS), Oklahoma City, helped preserve the holiday season with an innovative visiting booth solution it custom-engineered with cutting-edge, anti-viral ventilation.
Annual holiday visitation was originally cancelled by the CFL last fall based on Oklahoma State Department of Health’s (OSDH) and CDC COVID-19 safety recommendations amid intermittent coronavirus spikes within the state. Consequently, CFL principals were concerned the cancellation might affect the psyches of its 130 residents, who look forward to holiday season visits by hundreds of family members and even Santa Claus himself. “Our residents crave love, attention and physical interaction from their family members during the holiday season, so losing that visitation would be earthshattering,” said Nellie Tayloe Sanders, chief philanthropy officer, CFL, a 40-year-old direct-care facility.
Kevin Flynn, NAS’ group vice president of engineering and a CFL Board of Directors member, envisioned an HVAC solution after watching a TV network news story on a Florida nursing home’s residents that were forced to visit family members through makeshift shower curtain barriers as a COVID-19 precaution. “I thought there must be a better and safer way, so I challenged four of our engineers and we started brainstorming a solution,” recalled Flynn.
After five weeks of design, two weeks of parts fabrication, one week of testing, assembly and OSDH approval, the temporary visiting booth was assembled in CFL’s auditorium and donated on November 25, just in time for Thanksgiving visitors.
The booth features three recommendations by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) for COVID-19 mitigation; 100-percent outdoor air, enhanced particulate filtration and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) equipment. The latter was donated by NAS’ manufacturer representative, Tom Barrow Co., Atlanta, Ga. and UV manufacturer, Lumalier, Memphis, Tenn.
The 6 (w) x 8 (l) x 9 (h)-booth is solidly constructed of wood and 1/4-inch-thick, transparent polycarbonate plastic. Structurally, the booth is penta post-framed and tightly sealed with the same steel Integrated Thermal Break Frame (ITF) support used for NAS custom air handlers, which recently received a Notice of Acceptance as the HVAC industry’s strongest screwed frame (135-PSF/230-mph) cabinet by Miami-Dade County hurricane building codes.
The 100-percent outdoor air is supplied by a two-fan array of NAS’ FANWALL Technology mobilized with wheels for easy positioning near an exterior doorway. An 8-inch-diameter, 25-foot-long flexible duct connects the fans to the booth’s CLEANSUITE ceiling plenum, which is typically used for air purification in mission critical hospital operating rooms and clean rooms. The booth is positive pressured with 400-CFMs of air distributed through the plenum’s 12-inch-thick high efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filters and then expelled through a manual adjustable damper.
The booth uses a duct-mounted UVC light kit to disinfect the supply air of any viruses, bacteria, mold and other biological contaminants. The booth’s exterior wall-mounted upper air UV kit disinfects the area where visitors congregate. UVC was proven in several third-party studies last October to kill SARS CoV-2 at 99.9-percent within two seconds.
The booth also incorporates dimmable interior LED light fixtures, a two-way, volume-adjustable microphone/speaker audio system to accommodate sound or light-sensitive residents. The natural acoustics inside the booth lend a quiet 20dB sound level.
The booth is part of an ongoing partnership that includes “Nortek Gives” employee community service days; and most recently a redesign, re-tooling, renovation and expansion of CFL’s 20,000-square-foot Filters For Life manufacturing facility where residents fabricate custom media filters for Oklahoma state building HVAC systems. “The CFL partnership has also changed our lives at NAS,” said Buddy Doll, NAS’ president. Giving back to such a worthy cause, has left a lifetime impression on our employees.”
“Enabling family visitation is one of the most beautiful Christmas gifts Nortek can give our residents during the holiday season and beyond,” added Sanders. “Plus, our residents are true believers, so providing a safe environment that now allows them to tell Santa Claus what they want for Christmas is a big event for them.”