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Grin and Wear it: Taylorville Memorial Hospital Project Reveals ‘Smile Behind the Mask’

Face coverings may be a part of our new normal, but for patients in a hospital setting, not being able to see the person caring for them can cause anxiety. To help patients be more at ease, healthcare workers at Taylorville Memorial Hospital are participating in an initiative that puts photos of their smiling faces on large buttons. Healthcare workers wear the buttons so patients can see the smile behind the mask.

“Sometimes the personal protective equipment that healthcare workers wear can look intimidating to patients, like something out of a movie,” said Raedena Ryan, executive director of the Taylorville Memorial Hospital Foundation. “It is an extra comfort to our patients to see the smiling face of the person who is caring for them.”

Depending on the role, healthcare workers at Taylorville Memorial Hospital must wear different forms of personal protective equipment, which can include masks, face shields, hoods and eye protection, to protect themselves and others against illness such as COVID-19.

An important part of patient care is the quick building of trust and rapport between patient and caregiver, said Kristina Ray, manager of Health Information Management/Medical Staff Services and patient experience liaison. “It’s harder to establish that hallmark of a great patient experience when our patients can’t see our faces. In our protective gear, we all tend to look the same,” she said. “The ability to recognize individual caregivers is important to our patients.”

The buttons have been well-received at Taylorville Memorial Hospital, said Ryan. Approximately 220 buttons have been made for staff on and away from the frontlines, with more in production as buttons are requested. Funding for the buttons is provided by a grant from the Taylorville Memorial Hospital Foundation.

“We have a great team of professionals who continue to put patients’ and families’ emotional and personal safety first,” said Ray. “Something as simple as a smile – even if it’s on a button – can help ease the fear of an anxious patient.”

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