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San Diego healthcare worker laminates smiling photo on protective gear, sparking others to follow suit and comfort patients

"A reassuring smile makes a big difference to a scared patient," wrote Robertino Rodriguez in his now viral Instagram post.

SAN DIEGO — Some healthcare workers on the front lines are sharing reassuring smiles with their patients in a heartwarming way. 

Robertino Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, said he felt badly for patients in the Emergency Room who had to meet him with his face covered in personal protective equipment, also known as PPE.

In his Instagram post, which has since gone viral, he wrote, "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 posted a photo of himself dressed in full PPE with a large photo of his smiling face affixed to the outside of his protective clothing. He said he wipes down the large, laminated photo with disinfectant between each patient. 

Derek Devault, a nurse in Pasadena who works with dialysis patients, saw the post, which inspired him and a few of his coworkers to do the same thing.

In a FaceTime interview with News 8 in San Diego, Devault said, "I think it's great because these patients are coming in and they have no idea who we are or what we look like, so when they see a big picture of us hanging on our PPE, it allows them to relate, you know, human to human, and see our big smiles on our faces, I think it provides them with comfort."

Devault said they also disinfect their laminated badges.

Scripps Health declined our request to interview Rodriguez, but he gave us permission to share his photo and post to bring some brightness during these dark times.

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