“A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient."

There’s no way around it: Coronavirus is scary — for those who have it, for those whose employment has been impacted by it, for those who fear they may contract it, for those who’ve been the subject of racial discrimination because of it, and, of course, for the healthcare professionals who fight against it in hospitals around the world everyday.

No doubt adding to the fear, when patients visit a hospital they’re often interacting with a doctor they can barely see due to the head-to-toe personal protective equipment (masks, goggles, full-body suits) healthcare workers are required to wear. With this in mind, respiratory therapist Robertino Rodriguez decided to add a comforting personal touch to his uniform: A photo of himself.

“Yesterday I felt bad for my patients in ER when I would come in the room with my face covered in PPE,” Rodriguez began in a post on his Instagram. “A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient. So today I made a giant laminated badge for my PPE. So my patients can see a reassuring and comforting smile.”

Rodriguez appears to have started a movement of sorts. A few days after posting his now viral photo, he began sharing photos other healthcare workers had sent him. One showed three workers, all in head-to-toe PPE, with smiling photos taped to their gowns.

Another medical worker included a note with her photo that read: "Hi, I'm Peggy. We are here to take care of you."

Though healthcare workers are our superheroes right now, they could still use a helping hand. There are multiple things you can do to support them, whether it’s advocating for them to your local representatives, donating to Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund or Direct Relief, or just showing your appreciation every chance you’re able.

The coronavirus pandemic is unfolding in real time, and guidelines change by the minute. We promise to give you the latest information at time of publishing, but please refer to the CDC and WHO for updates.