Title:
PRIVACY CURTAIN
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A curtain assembly includes a mesh upper panel with a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters and a plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters as well as a lower panel that includes a plurality of upper-panel attachment adapters, wherein the lower panel is removably attachable to the upper panel by mating the lower-panel attachment adapters to the upper-panel attachment adapters.



Inventors:
Serio III, Arthur Fred (West Palm Beach, FL, US)
Serio, Stephanie Stephens (West Palm Beach, FL, US)
Application Number:
11/748585
Publication Date:
11/20/2008
Filing Date:
05/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/700
International Classes:
A47H23/02; A47H1/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
JOHNSON, BLAIR M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MAYBACK & HOFFMAN, P.A. (Fort Lauderdale, FL, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A curtain assembly comprising: a mesh upper panel that includes; a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters; and a plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters; a lower panel that includes a plurality of upper-panel attachment adapters, wherein the lower panel is removably attachable to the upper panel by mating the lower-panel attachment adapters to the upper-panel attachment adapters.

2. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: a position of the mesh upper panel's lower-panel attachment adapters corresponds to a position of the lower panel's upper-panel attachment adapters.

3. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: a horizontal position of each of the lower panel's upper-panel attachment adapters corresponds to a subset of adjacent mesh upper panel lower-panel attachment adapters.

4. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: the plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters are at least one of grommets, eyelets, loops, hooks, gypsy snaps, and snap fasteners.

5. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: at least one of the of lower-panel attachment adapters is one half of a set of mating snap fasteners.

6. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: the mesh upper panel includes a first side and a second side and at least a first one of the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters is provided on the first side of the mesh upper panel and at least a second one of the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters is provided on the second side of the mesh upper panel.

7. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: the mesh upper panel includes a first edge and an opposing second edge; the plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters are provided along the first edge; and the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters are provided along the opposing second edge.

8. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: the lower panel is of a waterproof material.

9. The curtain assembly according to claim 8, wherein: the waterproof material is an anti-microbial, anti-bacterial vinyl.

10. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, wherein: the lower panel is of at least one of a sound dampening material, a black-out material, and a flame-resistant material.

11. The curtain assembly according to claim 1, further comprising: a plurality of adjacent-lower-panel attachment adapters located proximate to a vertical edge of the lower panel, the adjacent-lower-panel attachment adapters configured to physically couple two adjacent lower panels to each other.

12. A curtain assembly kit, comprising: at least one mesh upper panel that includes; a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters; and a plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters; a set of lower panels, each of the lower panels including a plurality of upper-panel attachment adapters and being removably attachable to the mesh upper panel by mating at least one of the lower-panel attachment adapters to the upper-panel attachment adapters.

13. A method of installing a curtain assembly, the method comprising: attaching a mesh upper panel to a ceiling track; removably attaching a first lower panel to the mesh upper panel by mating at least two lower-panel attachment adapters attached to the mesh upper panel with a least two corresponding upper-panel attachment adapters attached to the first lower panel.

14. The method according to claim 13, further comprising: removably attaching a second lower panel to the mesh upper panel by mating at least two lower-panel attachment adapters attached to the mesh upper panel with a least two corresponding upper-panel attachment adapters attached to the second lower panel.

15. The method according to claim 14, which further comprises: removably attaching side attachment adapters of the first lower panel to side attachment adapters of the second lower panel to form a combined lower panel.

16. The method according to claim 13, wherein: the mesh upper panel is attached to the ceiling track by a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters integrated into the mesh upper panel.

17. A method of installing a curtain assembly, the method comprising: attaching a mesh upper panel to a ceiling track, the mesh upper panel having a vertical height of at least eighteen inches; and removably attaching a first lower panel to the mesh upper panel.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to privacy curtains, and more particularly relates to a versatile easily hung and removed multi-piece cubicle curtain for health-care facilities and other applications.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Privacy curtains, or “cubicle curtains,” are well known and are used to divide areas and/or provide privacy in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other applications. Virtually every fire code requires the upper section of every cubicle curtain to be made of a mesh material, called the “top mesh.” In the event of a fire, the top mesh allows water from ceiling sprinkler heads to pass through the patient privacy curtain and extinguish objects on the other side of the curtain that may be on fire. The lower section of these curtains, which are referred to as “top-mesh curtains,” is usually a solid patterned material. Because the curtains are required to entirely surround a particular cubicle, these curtains are long. The top-mesh curtains are typically provided in standard horizontal sizes from 72″ to 360″ in width and 88″ and 96″ in finished vertical length. This large size results in a curtain that is heavy and bulky to move and hang.

Cubicle curtains are manually hung on carriers (hooks) that slide through or along a channel or I-beam track that is permanently attached flush with the ceiling. In the majority of hospital/patient care facilities, the ceilings are eight to nine feet from floor to ceiling, which makes it impossible for a facility's maintenance/engineering/environmental services personnel to reach the carriers and hang the curtains without using a tall ladder or power lift. Use of a ladder or lift is necessary at the time of the initial installation of the curtains, and also every time the curtains are removed for cleaning and/or repair.

Depending on individual facility policy, cleaning may be done as often as weekly or whenever a patient is discharged or moved to another area of the facility. Hospital infection control standards require that if any portion of the top-mesh curtains are stained as a result of human or chemical fluids, they must be taken down and cleaned using prescribed cleaning methods to remove all contaminants. When a small area of the curtain is stained, the entire curtain with its top mesh must be removed and transported to a cleaning facility. Patient privacy regulations mandated by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) require that a replacement curtain be hung in patient bed areas and/or patient treatment areas when such a curtain is sent for cleaning.

Cleaning of top-mesh curtains is either done in the facility's in-house laundry, using large capacity industrial cleaning machines, or by a contracted outsourced cleaning service that comes to the facility, removes the soiled curtains (using a ladder or lift), hangs temporary replacement top-mesh curtains (also using a ladder or lift) and takes the facility's soiled curtains to a laundry for cleaning. The facility is charged both for the service and for the use of leased temporary curtains. In each case, the task of removing and replacing top-mesh curtains is time-consuming and the cost in manpower and required equipment is extensive.

Currently there are sixteen industry-standard widths, which are provided in 18″ increments from 72″ to 360″. As a result of the at least 16 different sizes, the hospital/care facility is required to carry additional spare top-mesh curtains as laundry replacements so that the facility is able to have continuous utilization of hospital beds and/or treatment areas.

In addition, hospitals and nursing facilities are in competition with other area facilities and are very conscious of the importance of attracting patients and qualified staff by having a soothing and aesthetically pleasing environment. In many cases, an interior designer is contracted to select fabric patterns and colors for the curtains in order to create the appropriate environment. When changing out the top-mesh curtains for cleaning, the maintenance/environmental services contracted cleaning service personnel are directed to remember where the original curtains were hung and re-hang them accordingly because each cubicle has its own particular unique dimensions. This process is done on a best-effort basis, however the personnel frequently hang curtains that are incorrect in size and pattern/color, i.e., not the correct size and/or color and pattern design prescribed by the facility's interior designer. As a result, many interior design goals, set by the hospital administration, dissolve into a mish-mash of color and patterns by the improper replacement of curtains when the original top-mesh curtains go out for cleaning.

The housekeeping staff/cleaning service is also required to hang the correct curtain onto the proper sized track, with respect to the track's horizontal length. The curtain is usually 10-20% larger than the track that it is made for to assure proper patient privacy. Searching through the various curtains stored in the laundry area to find the appropriately sized curtain is an inefficient use of manpower. It is very time consuming for the staff responsible for re-hanging curtains, and expensive for the facility, as staff could be performing other necessary tasks. Also, the curtains are routinely hung on improper track sizes, resulting in inadequate patient privacy.

Because there is no standard size for prior-art curtains, during manufacturing, the sewing room staff must manufacture each curtain to exact specifications, changing cutting and sewing measurements for each order. A large expense results from having to fulfill these custom orders.

In addition, when manufacturing prior-art curtains to the industry standard, a sewing room needs three different types of sewing machines before sending the cubicle curtain off to be grommetted: (1) a surge type sewing machine; (2) a 1½″ double needle sewing machine; and (3) a ¼″ double needle sewing machine. The purchase and maintenance of these three machines is costly. In addition, movement of each curtain from one machine to the next is labor intensive and, therefore, increases labor costs and the possibility for defective workmanship.

Therefore, a need exists to overcome the problems with the prior art top-mesh curtains as discussed above.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly, in accordance with the present invention, disclosed is a curtain assembly comprising a mesh upper panel that includes a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters and a plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters, as well as a lower panel that includes a plurality of upper-panel attachment adapters, wherein the lower panel is removably attachable to the upper panel by mating the lower-panel attachment adapters to the upper-panel attachment adapters.

In accordance with a further feature of the present invention, at least one of the of lower-panel attachment adapters is one half of a set of mating snap fasteners.

In accordance with a further feature of the present invention, the mesh upper panel includes a first side and a second side and at least a first one of the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters is provided on the first side of the mesh upper panel and at least a second one of the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters is provided on the second side of the mesh upper panel.

In accordance with a another feature of the present invention, the mesh upper panel includes a first edge and an opposing second edge, the plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters are provided along the first edge, and the plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters are provided along the opposing second edge.

In accordance with another feature, an embodiment of the present invention includes a method of installing a curtain assembly, where the method includes the steps of attaching a mesh upper panel to a ceiling track and removably attaching a first lower panel to the mesh upper panel by mating at least two lower-panel attachment adapters attached to the mesh upper panel with a least two corresponding upper-panel attachment adapters attached to the first lower panel.

In accordance with another feature, an embodiment of the present invention further includes removably attaching a second lower panel to the mesh upper panel by mating at least two lower-panel attachment adapters attached to the mesh upper panel with a least two corresponding upper-panel attachment adapters attached to the second lower panel.

In accordance with another feature, there is provided a method of installing a curtain assembly, where the method includes the steps of attaching a mesh upper panel to a ceiling track, the mesh upper panel having a vertical height of at least eighteen inches and then removably attaching a first lower panel to the mesh upper panel.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying figures, where like reference numerals refer to identical or functionally similar elements throughout the separate views and which together with the detailed description below are incorporated in and form part of the specification, serve to further illustrate various embodiments and to explain various principles and advantages all in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary side elevational view of a curtain assembly in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of an exemplary embodiment of a top mesh for the curtain assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of an exemplary embodiment of a lower panel for the curtain assembly of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 is a process flow diagram of an exemplary method for installing a curtain assembly in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

While the specification concludes with claims defining the features of the invention that are regarded as novel, it is believed that the invention will be better understood from a consideration of the following description in conjunction with the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals are carried forward. It is to be understood that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which can be embodied in various forms. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for the claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the present invention in virtually any appropriately detailed structure. Further, the terms and phrases used herein are not intended to be limiting; but rather, to provide an understandable description of the invention.

The present invention, according to an embodiment, overcomes problems with the prior art by providing a privacy curtain that is easily attached and removed without the need for a ladder or other tools. The inventive privacy curtain is provided in panels that are standardized in size, resulting in a curtain inventory that is easily managed, can be washed on premises with conventional, non-industrial machines, have a light panel weight that is easy to install and carry, and include an attachment mechanism that a user can reach without a ladder or other elevating device. The inventive privacy curtain also provides significant manufacturing advantages over the prior art that results in lowered manufacturing cost and better yield.

Described now are exemplary embodiments of the present invention. With reference to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a two-piece privacy curtain assembly 100 that includes, as a first piece, an upper mesh panel 101 that couples the privacy curtain assembly 100 to a flush-mounted track 104 on a ceiling (not shown in this view) and, as a second piece, a lower section 102 that is made of one or more panels 106a-n of material that easily snaps, or otherwise attaches, onto a bottom edge 108 of the upper mesh panel 101. The upper mesh panel 101 is manufactured to be an appropriate length so that it entirely traverses the track 104 from which it is to be hung. The lower panels 106a-n, in an exemplary embodiment of the present invention, are provided in a standardized size, e.g., 66″W×66″L. In this exemplary embodiment, the upper panel 101 can be manufactured in a length that is an integer multiple of the width of the lower panels 106a-n. It should be noted, however, that overlap between the lower panels 106a-n can exist so that the length of the upper panel 101 is, in such an embodiment, not a multiple of the width of the lower panels 106, but may instead be a multiple of a width of the lower panel 106a-n minus a desired overlap dimension.

In one exemplary embodiment, the track 104 is an elongated channel that allows sliders 110 to slide along the length thereof. By mechanically coupling the sliders 110 to the upper mesh panel 101 of the curtain assembly 100,the curtain assembly 100 can easily be physically displaced along the track 104. The curtain 100 can be slid in one direction along the track 104 to stretch the curtain 100 and form a “wall”, thereby blocking an interior of an area from view from outside thereof. Alternatively, the curtain 100 can be slid in a second direction bunch up upon itself and compress into a small area. In this configuration, the curtain acts as a portable foldable wall. It should be noted that the present invention is not limited to any particular type of track or sliders. Typically, the sliders 110 are coupled to curtain connectors 112, however, some sliders 110 are adaptable to hold the curtains without the need for additional connectors 112. In other words, the slider 100 and the curtain connectors 112 are a single piece and not two separate pieces.

As shown in FIG. 2, the upper panel 101 of the inventive curtain assembly 100, in this particular exemplary embodiment, is made of a mesh material 200 surrounded by a selvedge 202. Virtually every set of municipal fire codes requires the upper area of such top-mesh curtains to be made of a material that will allow water from ceiling mounted sprinkler heads to pass therethrough. This feature allows water from the sprinkler heads, no matter where the curtains are hung in relation to a sprinkler head, to be able to reach a person or an object on the other side of the curtain in the event of an emergency. The present invention, however, is not limited to mesh top panels and can be provided in any other material when used for purposes that are not controlled or regulated by fire codes that require such mesh.

Attached to and within the upper selvedge 202 is a plurality of ceiling-track attachment adapters 204, which are shown in the example of FIG. 2 as grommets integrated into the upper panel 101. The ceiling-track attachment adapters 204 can also be eyelets, loops, hooks, snap fasteners, or any other measures for attaching two objects to one another. Grommets are an advantageous implementation of an adapter 204 because a hooking device attached to the track 104 can be easily and quickly inserted therethrough to secure slidably the upper panel 101 to the track 104. By having grommets or another similar hooking mechanism on the upper panel 101, the upper panel 101 can be easily folded for shipping and storage, and can be washed without concern for losing or damaging such rugged adapters 204.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the selvedge is a 1½″ fire-retardant material and is manufactured to provide a firm grommet setting. The grommets or other adapters 204 used can be, for example, industry standard #2 machine-set rustproof nickel-plated brass and set apart from each other, for example, by approximately six inches on center.

In one exemplary embodiment, the mesh material 200 is provided in a height from the upper selvedge 202 to the lower selvedge 203 of at least 18 inches. This length is sufficiently large to allow water to penetrate through the curtain and meets or exceeds most guidelines set forth by the National Fire Protection Association for such vertical mesh. The mesh 200 is preferably a no-snag material and has openings in a minimum of 70 percent of the total area to allow water to pass through.

Attached to and within the selvedge 202 along the lower selvedge 203 is a plurality of lower-panel attachment adapters 206. As will be explained in detail below, the lower panel adapters 206 provide one exemplary mechanism for easily and quickly attaching the lower panels 106a-n to the upper panel 101.

Referring now to FIG. 3, an example of a single lower panel 106 is shown. The lower panel 106 can be any piece of material with a length L and a width W. In one exemplary embodiment, the lower panels 106 are provided in widths and/or lengths of between four and six feet, in particular, five and a half feet, which is significantly smaller than the length of prior-art panels. The lower panel 106 has an upper selvedge 302 with a plurality of upper-panel attachment adapters 304. By utilizing the upper-panel attachment adapters 304, the lower panel 106 can be removably attached to the upper panel 101 by mating the lower-panel attachment adapters 206 to the upper-panel attachment adapters 304. As is shown in FIG. 1, multiple lower panels 106a-n can be used and attached to a single continuous upper panel 101 to form the curtain assembly 100. To achieve privacy, the lower panels 106a-n are dimensioned to overlap each other and prevent light from passing between two adjacent panels 106a-n. Adjacent-lower-panel attachment adapters 306 can be provided proximate to a vertical side edge 308 of the panel 106 to couple two adjacent panels 106 to one another. The attachments can be snaps, such as gypsy snaps, hooks, Velcro®, or any other removable attachment measures for coupling two objects. Easily removable attachment mechanisms are particularly advantageous in mental wards or the like where patients may try to cause harm to themselves. In these embodiment, the lower curtain panels 106a-n will quickly and easily separate from the mesh upper panel 101.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the upper panel 101 has lower-panel attachment adapters 206 on its two opposing sides, i.e. front and back (only one of which is illustrated in FIG. 2). In this embodiment, lower panels 106a-n can be attached to both sides of the upper panel 101. As such, a multitude of material and pattern combinations are made possible by mixing and matching the panels 106a-n. This embodiment also results in a significant cost savings over the prior art. Prior-art curtains are manufactured with a woven pattern on both sides of the material that produces a pattern on both sides. Double-sided woven manufacturing is prohibitively expensive. The two-sided panel configuration of the present invention allows two pieces of material each having only one side with a woven pattern to be butted up against one another and, thereby, present a pattern from either viewing side of the so-combined curtain assembly. Because single-sided patterns are much less expensive than double-sided woven patterns, this previously cost-prohibitive configuration becomes possible with the present invention. As will be explained in detail below, other significant advantages are realized by the two-sided panel configuration of the present inventive curtains.

In one embodiment of the present invention, snap fasteners are used as the adapters 206/304 to attach the upper panel 101 to the lower panels 106a-n. In this embodiment, the snap fasteners are two-piece male/female mating devices, similar to those commonly found on clothing items, such as jeans, with one half of the male/female combination attached to the upper panel 101 and the corresponding opposite male or female half attached to the lower panel 106.

By using snap fasteners or other easily separable devices, the present invention provides multiple significant advantages over prior-art curtains for cubicles. Because curtains used in medical cubicles are always at risk of getting stained, health codes and the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandate that they must be removed and laundered on a regular bases or as soon as they are soiled. The vast majority of hospitals have ceiling heights of 96″ or more. In order to remove prior-art curtains for medical cubicles, the hospital staff must use a ladder to reach the top of the curtain (at least 96″ from the ground) and unhook the curtain from the track. This presents many possibilities for injury and concomitantly requires the user to take the time to move the ladder to the particular medical cubicle (and be exposed to the corresponding dangers associated therewith as demonstrated comically in many Three Stooges and/or Marx Brothers movies). In addition, in virtually all cases, a replacement curtain will need to be hung in place of the removed curtain. The mesh panel 101 of the present invention is located near the ceiling and hangs down therefrom to a height that is not typically associated with soiling. The height of the mesh panel 101, therefore, makes it unlikely that any foreign materials will reach it and stain it. As a result, the upper mesh panel 101 rarely ever needs to be cleaned—meaning that only the lower fabric panels 106a-n need to be removed and cleaned on a regular basis. Because upper-panel attachment adapters 304 of the lower panels 106a-n need to be, advantageously, attached to lower-panel attachment adapters 206 that exist only about five to six feet off of the floor, they are easily reached by the average person standing flat-footed. As a result, the lower panels 106a-n are easily removed for laundering and no ladder or other equipment is necessary for such an exchange. For applications where ceiling height is taller than 96″, the dimensions of the upper panel 101 can be selected so that the junction where the upper panel 101 and the lower panels 106a-n meet still remains within reach of the average person without the need for a ladder.

In addition, by providing the panels 106a-n in a standard width, the previously required and wasted time spent by maintenance staff looking for a particular curtain out of an inventory of custom sized-curtains having a multitude of widths is entirely eliminated. Inventory organization is, correspondingly, simpler. With the present invention, maintenance staff can simply snap on a panel 106 that matches the pattern of the adjacent panels 106a-n with confidence that the size is correct.

In the embodiment where attachment adapters 206 are provided on both sides of the upper panel 101, a protective liner, such as a plastic or vinyl sheet for instance, can be attached to the upper panel 101 (much like the combination of an interior plastic shower curtain with an exterior shower curtain made of a non-waterproof material). For instance, an inexpensive anti-microbial, anti-bacterial vinyl, or otherwise waterproof, snap-liner can be snapped onto a side of the upper panel 101 that faces a patient's bed. For a patient with a particular condition, or in an environment, e.g. surgical, where discharge or spattering is expected, using a waterproof panel creates a healthier environment for those patients residing in adjacent beds. In addition, use of a smooth stain-resistant curtain eliminates the cost of replacing material curtains previously ruined by such stains.

Aesthetics can be significantly enhanced by attaching a patterned material panel 106 to the upper panel 101 on a side opposite the vinyl liner, i.e., on the outside surface of the mesh panel 101. The patterned panel 106 is aesthetically pleasing and hides the vinyl liner from general view. If the vinyl liner becomes soiled, it can simply be removed, one section at a time, and replaced without compromising patient privacy and without the need for a ladder. In addition, vinyl, or other similar material, is significantly less-expensive in comparison to a typical two-sided patterned cubicle curtain.

In another embodiment of the present invention, one or more of the lower panels 106a-n attached to the upper mesh panel 101 is made of a sound dampening material. The sound dampening material is useful in applications where, for instance, a patient is in a non-private room and is disturbing his/her roommates. This situation frequently occurs in hospitals and nursing homes. Because sound-dampening materials are well-known in the art, it is believed that further explanation is not needed herein.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, one or more of the lower panels 106a-n attached to the upper mesh panel 101 is made of a visible-light black-out material that eliminates or attenuates light from entering the area behind the curtain 100.

In any of the various embodiments of the curtain of the present invention, the lower panels 106a-n can be made of a flameproof or flame-resistant material.

Advantageously, the inventive snap-panel design of the present invention eliminates the need for a variety of sewing machines, as is required for prior-art curtains. The inventive curtain, in one embodiment, can be manufactured by a single 1½″ double needle lock stitch sewing machine that places a 1½ hem all the way around the panel. In comparison, prior-art curtains require a surge machine to place a 1½ surge seam to attach two pieces of material to each other, then a ¾ machine is used in addition to an third 1½ hem machine. In other words, two entire machines and sewing processes are eliminated with the present invention.

In addition, with the inventive snap-panel design of the present invention, each panel is of uniform dimension, e.g., 66″W×66″L, and every panel 106 has adapters 304 that are spaced the same distance apart as the adapters 206 of the upper mesh panel 101 and, therefore, allow a perfect fit onto every mesh panel 101. The unification of sizing allows the sewing staff who manufacture the curtains of the present invention to mass-produce the panels 106a-n, reducing time and labor costs over the prior art custom panel manufacturing method.

FIG. 4 shows a process flow diagram of an exemplary method for hanging a curtain 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention. The flow starts at step 400 and moves directly to step 402, where one or more of the ceiling-track attachment adapters 204 of the upper mesh section 101 are attached to a corresponding one or more curtain connectors 112. Once the upper panel is secured to the track 104, the flow moves to step 404 where one or more lower-panel attachment adapters 206 of the upper mesh panel 101 are coupled to a corresponding one or more upper-panel attachment adapters 304 of a first lower panel 106. In step 406 a check is made to determine whether or not more lower panels 106 need to be attached to the upper mesh panel 101. If the answer is yes, the flow moves back up to step 404. If the answer to step 406 is no, the flow moves to step 408 and ends. If desired, adjacent lower panels 106a-n can be attached to one another before or after being attached to the upper mesh panel

A multi-piece curtain has just been described that includes a semi-permanent continuous upper panel coupled to multiple removably attachable lower panels. The inventive curtain is an improvement over the prior art not only in the enhanced safety when changing the panels, but in cost for inventory, laundry, handling, manufacturing, material, and in some applications, containment of substances.

Although specific embodiments of the invention have been disclosed, those having ordinary skill in the art will understand that changes can be made to the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The scope of the invention is not to be restricted, therefore, to the specific embodiments, and it is intended that the appended claims cover any and all such applications, modifications, and embodiments within the scope of the present invention.

The terms “a” or “an”, as used herein, are defined as one, or more than one. The term “plurality”, as used herein, is defined as two, or more than two. The term “another”, as used herein, is defined as at least a second or more. The terms “including” and/or “having”, as used herein, are defined as comprising (i.e., open language). The term “coupled”, as used herein, is defined as connected, although not necessarily directly, and not necessarily mechanically.