See a need. Fill a need. That’s exactly what Jacksonville resident Ferlin Blood did by inventing a new hospital gown to help patients in hospitals and nursing homes.
Blood worked as the Assistant Director of Nursing at Bonner Street Plaza for a few years and before that, at Senior Care (previously called Legend Oaks) as a lung care treatment nurse when he got the idea to invent a new gown that promoted modesty.
“I had the idea when I was a nurse sometime back in 2008. Every day gowns have to be changed and usually the tubing runs up under the gown. You couldn’t go through the gown because there weren’t any openings,” he said. “It just became a dignity issue with the patients because the only way to get to the side is to pull the gown up to their chin or over their head. You’re exposing the bottom half of the patient. It just bothered me and I thought there had to be a better way.”
Blood created a gown that had more snaps and ties and would allow nurses and nursing assistants to help their residents more easily and also give the residents more modesty.
“Simply putting a hole in the gown wouldn’t do the trick because certified nursing assistants have to be able to move the gown to change it,” Blood said. “They’re not legally allowed to touch any of the tubing. My design allows for the nurse to be able to reach the side and close it back up without exposing the patient.”
Modesty was the main concern for Blood.
“It’s hard to cope with someone having to take care of you and having to do everything for you,” Blood said. “It’s just like adding insult to injury when you’re lying there feeling vulnerable, feeling weak, and to top it off, you’re butt-naked and somebody else is pulling a gown up over your head.”
Blood sat on the patent for two years before a friend helped give him the courage to move forward with his idea.
“I didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to approach it,” he said. “Then I read a book that a friend of mine wrote called 'Winning Through Mental Toughness' by David Carr. It just encouraged me to get up and do something.”
Blood did an Internet search to find a company that was the right fit for him. After finding a company, Blood sent them his idea and they began researching the project.
“They sent me back a recommendation saying it wasn’t feasible. I talked to my envoy between me and the company in Pennsylvania,” Blood said. “I explained to them in more detail what they’re concerns were and they said I needed to write a rebuttal letting explaining everything and they contacted me and said it was a go.”
With plans in place for the patent process to continue, Blood hit a stumbling block. He didn’t have enough money to apply for the patent he had tried to obtain.
“I was $4,500 short and didn’t want to ask for it. I thought if I didn’t have the money, God would provide it and if not, this was as far as I was going to go with it. I prayed on my way home,” Blood said. “I went home and got on Facebook. A guy I hadn’t heard from in 30 years that I went to school with sent me a message saying he had heard about my invention and was interested. I almost fell over. I told him a little bit about it and he said come over to Longview to talk to him and his wife about it. They talked about it and I got a text message from him saying we’re on board. We’ll cut you the check.”
Blood sent the patent proposal in October of last year but was told to make a few changes.
“They told me there’s a problem between the drawings and the wording. It didn’t match up,” Blood said. “I tweaked it and in February the patent office told me that my patent was acceptable. They issued the patent on April 30 of this year.”
Blood plans on selling his patent and using the money to finance other ideas for future inventions.
“I have other ideas I would like to finance – I have a few more medical ones and a hardware one that helps around the house,” Blood said. “They told me initially what’s my ballpark figure for selling the patent and before I got the sentence out of my mouth, they said the average patent sells for $3.5 million but there’s no guarantees.”
Despite a potential large payday, Blood, who was homeless at one time, said he would just be happy to know his invention helps the patients he has cared for as a nurse.