A vast number of essential workers have emerged as heroes during the COVID-19 crisis, either by simply doing their job in dangerous conditions, or going the extra mile in doing their job in dangerous conditions.

Despite the struggles and challenges, many doctors, nurses, and other medical staff push on and do their best to make sure everyone is safe during the coronavirus crisis.

A respiratory therapist named Robertino (Instagram tag captain_wolf82) is taking care of COVID-19 patients at the Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. One day, as he entered the ER, he thought about how bad his patients must be feeling (apart from the virus) with him in full personal protection gear from head to toe.

Masks make it impossible for doctors to show positive non-verbal signs like smiling, which is vital to patients

Image credits: captain_wolf82

After all, as he said in his Instagram post, “a reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient.” Face it⁠—the mask doesn’t make people look friendly or, in some cases, human. And that’s not good if you’re dealing with people who need all the positivity they can get.

So he came up with an ingenious idea of getting his smile out into the world for his patients to enjoy, all the while staying safe in his protective shell. Robertino printed out a color photograph of himself with a charming smile on his face, laminated it, and stuck it on his PPE.

So, a San Diego respiratory therapist decided to slap a photo of himself with a reassuring smile

Image credits: derekdevault

This way, a doctor who at first was just a set of eyeballs behind protective glasses is now portrayed in a very human way—a smiling face that brings comfort and reassurance to his patients.

According to the late Dr. Kate Granger, geriatrician and campaigner for better patient care, smiling is incredibly important as a method of building a connection between doctors and patients, establishing a rapport, and relieving anxiety in both. So the importance of smiling in this context cannot be understated.

A number of other doctors were inspired by this move and did the same soon after, sharing their results

Image credits: sova198

Such a move inspired a number of other medical specialists to try the same thing. Robertino shared a photo that he received from a fellow respiratory nurse named Derek with him and two other specialists wearing full protective gear and photographs glued to their PPE.

Derek explained in his Instagram post that he saw this idea online and thought of it as a beautiful way of bringing ease to his patients during this stressful time. He also took the opportunity to thank all healthcare workers in the frontlines as well as all those staying at home despite the difficulties.

The only other option to keep the smile is to wear different kinds of PPE, which isn’t always available

Image credits: captain_wolf82

A picture of another medical expert trio also popped up on Reddit, sporting full protective gear and large portraits of themselves stuck on them. The post received a lot of attention with over 79,000 upvotes and dozens of comments. This is also hinting at the possible start of a huge movement among medical staff.

So, what is your take on this? Would you want your doctors to smile more? Let us know in the comments below!

Obligatory PSA: stay at home, wash your hands, keep social distancing because this is not a drill

Image credits: captain_wolf82

Here’s what the internet had to say about this ingenious idea