PPE Portraits Canada: Humanizing Care During COVID-19

Due to changes in PPE requirements with COVID-19, Montreal's Intensive Care Unit Bridge Program (ICUBP, www.icubridgeprogram.org) launched the PPE Portraits Project in April 2020, and has successfully incorporated the project in numerous hospitals and departments.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Portrait Project is a hybrid art and medical intervention designed to improve patient care and team dynamics by humanizing the alienating appearance of PPE, through warm, smiling headshot portraits fixed to the outside of the healthcare worker’s PPE. This is meant to:

  1. Reduce patient isolation and fears.
  2. Increase trust and connection with the healthcare professional.
  3. Increase patient awareness of who is taking care of them.
  4. Humanize healthcare workers and increase team dynamics.

This project was created by Mary Beth Heffernan (www.ppeportrait.org), who developed the PPE portrait guidelines in consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO)-Liberia Case Management Team during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. This project is now being applied to the COVID-19 pandemic in many medical centers.

The PPE Portrait Project has expanded to include the creation of PPE Portraits Canada (www.ppeportraits.ca). There are now over 1900 healthcare professionals who have requested a portrait in 13 cities across 4 provinces in Canada.

When they drove up to me, I would introduce myself and point to my picture saying, 'This is me under all this,' one healthcare worker explains. One patient actually said, ‘I love your picture.’ ... It enhanced my interaction with my patients, as they were able to see me and not just a full suit of PPE.

If you would like to hear more about this project, feel free to watch this 2-minute interview clip: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1760124483625

Would you like your own portrait? Fill out this form: https://form.jotform.com/icubridgeprogram/PPEportraitsCanada

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