Robertino Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist in San Diego, California has started a global movement among frontline healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
There are currently 28,142 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the state of California and 971 deaths as of Friday, according to the New York Times.
Earlier this month, while working in the emergency department, Mr Rodriguez came up with the idea to attach to his personal protective equipment (PPE) a photo of himself smiling, so patients would feel more comfortable and less afraid.
The California-based respiratory therapist told the Sarajevo Times that because he was saddened that his PPE was hiding his friendly face, he devised a solution to allow his patients to continue seeing him smile.
“My patients would come in and normally they see my kind face and comforting smile, but since the pandemic I have to wear a mask and eye shields,” said Mr Rodriguez, “they no longer can see my face… I felt sad the whole shift.
“The next day I went to work and remembered we had a laminator machine and decided to make a giant laminated badge with a picture of me smiling.
“That way my patients would still see my kind face and comforting smile and know that behind the mask I was still smiling at them.”
The movement began after Mr Rodriguez posted a picture of himself on his Instagram account on April 4 showcasing his smiling laminated badge with the caption: “Yesterday I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE. 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.”
The image and caption was reposted several days later on the Instagram account@doctortribe which has 110,000 followers from across the world.
Mr Rodriguez told the Sarajevo Times that he is pleased his creative initiative is now trending globally.
“I feel that it’s so wonderful how my small idea has become a worldwide movement and phenomena.
“I love seeing other healthcare workers make badges so their patients can feel safe and less scared when they are in the hospital.”
According to the ‘Share Your Smile’ creator, in addition to boosting patient morale, the smiling badge is also cathartic to staff.
“The badge doesn’t just help the patients,” said Mr Rodriguez, “it also helps the healthcare workers.
“Seeing patients happy also helps us heal as well.”
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the state of California occurred in January.
Yesterday, the LA Timesreported that cases of the coronavirus in California are expected to double every 14.5 days.
As of Friday afternoon, COVID-19 has killed 34,723 people across the United States, and nearly 150,000 people worldwide.
Written by Miya Yamanouchi for the Sarajevo Times