“Maskless” ID Badges Let Patients See a Smiling Face

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A warm smile or touch from a caregiver is always a welcome respite for hospitalized patients. With the advent of COVID-19, and care providers covered head-to-toe in protective equipment, some of that human element has been lost.

Thanks to an employee’s initiative, Allegheny Health Network’s Forbes Hospital is taking steps to bridge that gap. Caregivers will be wearing photos of themselves, unmasked and smiling, along with their standard identification badges, so that patients can see the human being behind the protective shield.

Colleen Scarantine, MS, RRT, Manager of Patient Safety and Risk at Forbes Hospital, first learned about the special badges in a national news story. She knew immediately she wanted to make these available to caregivers at Forbes. She took the idea to Forbes leaders, who loved the idea and encouraged her to pursue it.

Employees loved it too and are having “maskless”photos taken with appropriate precautions and social distancing. The badges are being provided both in the form of stickers that can be placed on a disposable gown and thrown away, and as laminated badges

“Human contact is so important to the mental and physical health of anyone who is hospitalized,” Scarantine said. “Being hospitalized is now especially difficult, and even frightening, because of the limitations on visitors, and also because protective measures covering our expressions create a less “human” appearance.

“We want to affirm to our patients that there is a real, caring human being behind the mask. Nothing replaces a real smile, touch, or eye contact, but we hope these IDs can help patients and caregivers make a stronger connection,” Scarantine said.

A variety of employees, from transport drivers to emergency physicians, will have the new additional IDs. Scarantine leads a group of Forbes employees who are arranging and supervising the printing and laminating of the IDs, and employees will begin wearing them as they become available.

“Personalized, compassionate care for our patients has always been a core value at AHN Forbes,” said Mark Rubino, MD, president, Forbes Hospital. “Colleen’s initiative, and our employees’ enthusiasm for getting one of the new IDs, show how Forbes employees are always willing to go the extra mile for the welfare of our patients.”

Plans are underway to expand the initiative to more hospitals within AHN.

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org), a Highmark Health company, is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region.  The Network is composed of 12 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, an employed physician organization, home and community-based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more.  AHN employs approximately 21,000 people, has more than 2,500 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine, and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.