Long Island Nurse Creates 'Face Behind The Mask' Program To Ease COVID-19 Patient Anxiety

Stony Brook University Hospital Face Behind The Mask
Photo credit Stony Brook University Hospital
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A nurse practitioner at a hospital on Long Island has come up with a way to make patients feel less anxious and alone as they receive treatment for COVID-19. 

Health care workers at Stony Brook University Hospital have started wearing signs with photos of themselves on their gowns so patients can see their faces as they receive care, the medical center said in a release Thursday. 

Nurse practitioner April Plank came up with the idea for the "Face Behind the Mask" program after she started working in one of the hospital’s COVID units. 

"If I were a patient myself, it would mean a lot. I think it's going to mean a lot for our whole team to have every patient know who we are when we're walking into the room," Plank told WCBS 880 on Thursday. "This disease is unlike anything else, so any little thing that we can do to help the patients during this horrific time is great."

The sign on Plank's own gown bears her staff photo, along with messages in both English and Spanish. “I care about you!” the messages read. “We’re going to get through this together!”

The new measure allows patients “to know their caregivers by sight,” even while their faces are covered by masks and other personal protective equipment, according to the release. 

“The Face Behind the Mask will be piloted in one unit to start, before being deployed elsewhere throughout the hospital,” the release said. Patients are also being given the chance to speak with their loved ones via smart phones and iPads, the hospital noted.

Carolyn Santora, chief of regulatory affairs at the hospital, told WCBS 880 she thinks the program "brings them some comfort, and it brings them some smiles." 

"Realizing that these patients never see anyone without a mask on, they never see a full face, they never see your smile, the full face image and a message on that print out goes a long way to engaging the patient and making them understand that we really care about them," she added.

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