Healthcare workers are taping photos of themselves to their protective gear to help put COVID-19 patients at ease

When patients are admitted to the hospital for COVID-19, they aren’t allowed to have visitors. Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals keep their distance, interacting with them only under layers of personal protective equipment. It can be easy to feel a lack of human connection.

Healthcare workers have come up with a clever way to help COVID-19 patients feel a little less isolated. Their personal protective equipment obscures their faces entirely, preventing them from offering so much as a reassuring smile. So they’ve begun wearing name tags with cheerful pictures of themselves.

face over ppe
The respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez. 

“Yesterday I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE,” Robertino Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, wrote in an Instagram post. “A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient. So today I made a giant laminated badge for my PPE. So my patients can see a reassuring and comforting smile.”

Healthcare workers in other cities have also started wearing photos of themselves over their protective gear.

“Saw this idea on IG and thought it was a beautiful way to bring ease to our patients during this stressful time,” Derek DeVault, a nurse based in Los Angeles, captioned an Instagram photo of himself and his colleagues in full gear. “Thank you to all the healthcare workers out there for battling on the frontlines. To all those who are staying home, huge shout out to you! I know that is also not easy.”

faces ppe skitch
What healthcare workers look like underneath all of the personal protective equipment. 

Dr. Joseph Varon, the chief of medicine at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, wears a photo of himself taped to his gown when he speaks with patients. His staff does the same. Varon believes that giving patients hope through a friendly face is “50% of the battle.”

“If I have someone who loses hope, I don’t care how many medications I give him, they’re going to go,” Varon told’s Phil Archer. “So my goal is to avoid losing people to this coronavirus any way we can.”

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April 10, 2020
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