Health care workers are wearing smiling photos of themselves to put coronavirus patients at ease

Healthcare workers wearing photos of themselves outside of their PPE to help put patients at ease. By Leah Asmelash and Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN

(CNN) -- Being in the hospital for coronavirus is scary enough. Then seeing your doctor or some other health care worker come in with a mask, glasses, hood and all the other protective gear? It can make a tough situation even harder.

That's why Robertino Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, put a laminated photo of his face along with his name on his PPE gear -- an effort to put his patients at ease. He shared his idea on Instagram and has more than 30,000 likes.

"Yesterday I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE," Rodriguez wrote in the 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."

Rodriguez's idea has inspired other healthcare workers, too.

Derek DeVault, a nurse in Los Angeles, and some of his coworkers took a cue from Rodriguez. He called the idea "amazing."

"These patients are alone in the hospital, not allowed visitors and surrounded by a care team that's covered head to toe in PPE," he told CNN. "Seeing a picture of who's underneath could bring ease and comfort at such a stressful time."

Since January, there have been more than 491,000 Covid-19 cases in the US, and more than 18,000 have died due to the virus. The peak is expected to occur on Sunday, according to experts.

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