BOSTON (CBS) – Brigham and Women’s Hospital has come up with a creative way to comfort kids coming in for cancer treatments during the coronavirus pandemic.

For children, seeing all the health care workers wearing masks has been an unsettling change.

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“They’re a little thrown off and frightened by seeing lab coats and surgical masks. It’s just not our norm. They like to see our friendly faces and a friendly smile just puts them at ease,” said Courtney Audet, a Child Life Specialist in the Radiation Oncology Department at the Brigham.

So, Audet came up with a clever idea to print out photos of all the employees in the department and turn their big smiles into buttons they can pin on their coats and scrubs. She was inspired by doctors in Italy who made personal touches to their personal protective equipment while caring for coronavirus patients. She says making sure patients can see their faces helps give them a sense of normalcy, something that is so important during this stressful time of battling cancer during a pandemic.

“The kids have loved it so far. Immediately when they walk in they were just excited to see it they were like ‘that’s you! that’s you! I can finally see you!,” said Audet.

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“Our patients are coming in with a cancer diagnosis. They’re typically scared, they’re nervous and coming in when people have a mask on and we have six feet of separation. We don’t get to connect with them like we usually do so just having a photo of us smiling really makes a difference,” said Saralynne Donovan, a radiation therapist.

Some health care workers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are now wearing the photo buttons. (Photo credit: Courtney Audet)

The response has been so great that now everyone in the department is wearing the buttons while treating both kids and adults.

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The staff also says the buttons are helping them feel more connected during this tough time.

Anna Meiler