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Ottawa company helping put CHEO patients at ease by revealing faces behind PPE masks

Printing Plus' idea is to put the faces of nurses and doctors on buttons, so CHEO patients can see who is taking care of them while staff continue to wear heavy PPE gear during COVID-19.
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A CHEO nurse sporting a button made by Ottawa company Printing Plus, a project aimed at making hospital visits less scary for kids during the pandemic. Photo/Rob Lindell

It hasn’t been easy for CHEO patients to see the friendly faces behind the PPE masks that cover their doctors and nurses as of late. 

With COVID-19 still very much firmly planted in Ottawa, healthcare workers have had to take the PPE game to the next level in an effort to do their part to prevent and stop the spread of the virus among the small and vulnerable patients. 

And it’s been scary for some of them, neurology clinic nurse Huguette Legendre says — hearing voices muffled by masks and essentially not knowing who is about to do whatever is they’re going to do in their endeavor to make them feel better. 

So, how can kids trust a person with a needle if they can’t see who is about to give them that needle?

It’s a fear Rod Lintell, who owns Printer Plus (the company who supplies CHEO with its printing supplies), recognized.

And after seeing a story on the news of another company out west offering to make buttons with the faces of nurses and doctors on them, he thought it would be a good idea to do in Ottawa, especially for CHEO patients who are often nervous going there to begin with.

“I’ve been there for four years and see the kids and I’m in all aspects of the hospital,” Lintell said. “You see these kids and you feel bad for these parents and you feel bad for these kids. Then all of the sudden you've got these big masks and face shields and anything else people now have to wear when they interact with the kids. This is something easy for us to do, so let’s do it so the kids can see what everyone looks like without their masks and fact shields on.”

So Lintell approached a few people at his office with the idea — all they have to do is buy a button-making machine and buttons. 

“Things are quiet these days and we had the manpower so I said, ‘Let me run with this and pitch it to the hospital and see what they say.’”

So he pitched it to CHEO and their COVID Generosity team — and they loved it.

Lintell and a few of his employees set up at CHEO for two days, on June 23 and 24. It was considered a donation on Printer Plus’ part.

All staff had to do was give their biggets grins for the camera; Lintell and his team did the rest and buttons were ready that same day.

It was a hit among staff, including for Legendre, who had gotten hers on Tuesday. For Legendre, it’s been a good distraction for patients, especially for the younger kids.

“When I saw that you could get the button with your permanent smile on it I thought it was a good idea,” Legendre said. “Our faces our covered and usually for the kids, especially when they’re around eight or nine months, they’re looking at your face and trying to read your expressions. Now that our faces are covered, they can’t see that and can only hear your voice.”

Anything staff can do during this time to make the kids more comfortable, the better it is Legendre adds.

Lintell hopes to book another few days at CHEO for the staff that weren’t working or available for the two days he was there. He’d also like to approach other hospitals in the area with the idea. 

“I think it’s just putting a familiar face to the person,” Lintell said. “The nurses and doctors at CHEO — everyone is so pleasant… I just think it helps the kids relate to the people that are working there.”


About the Author: Dani-Elle Dubé

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