Kansas City,
11:35 AM

There's a smile behind that mask!

COVID-19 has quickly changed our hospital, our country, and our world. As employees, we have been faced with a new normal, new attire, and new ways to communicate with our patients and families. Over the years, we as adults have learned the tools necessary to cope with our own stress, but what about our patients? How scary it must be for them to figure out this new normal.

Research lead child life specialists at Children’s Mercy to acknowledge that masks and other protective equipment can affect how children and parents perceive and communicate with medical staff.

The Child Life team at Children’s Mercy acknowledges that with the new standard of universal masking and increased use of personal protective equipment, comes even more fear. As a child, it can be terrifying to be at the hospital on a normal day. Now they cannot even see the face of the doctor or nurse trying to assess them. Why should we expect a child to trust someone hiding behind a mask? To alleviate this specific fear, child life specialists in the Adele Hall Emergency Department have begun to supply each member of the care team a button with their smiling face on it. The button is worn over their isolation gown or mask so the patient can see who is protected underneath. We want our patients and their families to see our smiles, know we are all human, and understand that the same compassion and exceptional care still exists underneath it all.

This project has been well received by patients, families, and staff. The Child Life Department has collaborated with Infection Prevention and Control to continue this project in a modified format hospital wide. More information will be coming shortly about how you can participate in this project!

As an institution, we want our patients to understand that there are caring, kind, staff members behind the masks we are wearing. We also want to tell patients that even when their mouth is covered, their eyes will show. We can look at their eyes and know they might be feeling, happy, sad, confused, or worried. We want kids to talk with us about how they are feeling and what questions they have.

Now, more than ever, the Child Life team remains dedicated to creating a healthy, safe, and fun environment for our patients and families.


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