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Padbots Are Making the Rounds in Berks County

Robby the Robot01If you are a senior citizen in Berks County, you may remember the days of the house calls, when the friendly neighborhood doctor would arrive at your home with his black bag and oral (or otherwise) thermometer. They say those days are over; however, a new visitor has come calling: the padbot.

What is a padbot? It’s a model of a telepresence robot. Simply put, it’s a mobile robot that can move around on wheels and tilt its “head,” which is controlled by a smartphone or iPad. The little visitor is impervious to germs and viruses, so it is the ideal tool for communicating between doctors and other healthcare workers and patients.

In this day of isolation and fear, people are getting used to alternate means of communication, including computers and phones. This is especially true in the healthcare and related fields. For example, The Pennsylvania Department of Aging announced that the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman has incorporated two Padbots as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance communication with residents in long-term care facilities. Padbots are designed to safely connect ombudsmen with residents via video when they may not be able to adequately correspond or don’t have their own communication devices.

The Padbots, nicknamed "Addie the Advocate" and "Pete the PEERbot," are part of a pilot program launched during the COVID-19 emergency. Ombudsmen control the Padbots' movements, and their faces are projected on a screen to allow personal, private interaction with residents without assistance from facility staff.

"Addie and Pete have been great additions to our ombudsmen's arsenal. They really have allowed us to go into a facility safely and efficiently to connect with residents when face-to-face contact has not been permitted due to the ongoing pandemic," said the Department of Aging's State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Margaret Barajas. "Our ombudsmen have received very positive feedback on Addie and Pete so far. They brought smiles to peoples' faces and helped to lighten the mood of interactions that we have had with residents."

Far from the scary monster robots in the sci-fi films of the 1950s, though not quite as personable as Robbie the Robot and R2-D2, padbots are ideal workers that can help seniors get the assistance they need from various agencies and healthcare systems, without being unnecessarily inconvenienced or exposed to potentially harmful situations.

The Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ created Sacred Heart Villa (formerly St. Michael Convent) in 2003 with the vision of providing a personal care home for the Sisters and other seniors of southeastern Pennsylvania. The Sisters renovated St. Michael in order to create 35 personal care residential rooms. Sacred Heart Villa officially opened her doors to her first new residents in May 2004, with space for 57 Sisters and 40 other senior residents.

The facility has two residential buildings, a remodeled dining room, a new fireside lounge, library, café, and beauty shop. The chapel remains in the middle of the facility for it truly is the Heart of the community. Each new residential room provides an individual with privacy, safety, and security in an environment of beauty and grace. Mass is celebrated each day and is open to the public. Sacred Heart Villa is now accepting residents. If you are seeking care for yourself or a loved one, contact Sacred Heart Villa today at 610-929-5751 for a tour. You can also visit us at sacredheartvillapa.org/.