Wednesday’s Warrior: Aspiring doctor assembles ‘Smile Badges’ for healthcare workers covered in PPE

Wednesday's Warrior

(WTNH) — “I see a bunch of very, very, very brave people, I see a bunch of selfless people,” said Shayna Zanker, the creator of Smile Badges. 

 Unquestionably, selfless because these are the faces of some of our healthcare heroes. 

In times like this, it’s hard for patients to actually see their caregivers because they’re covered in personal protective equipment. 

“And now with the restrictions from COVID-19, they must be, you know, terrified not being able to really see any of their provider’s faces.”

So, Shayna Zanker took it upon herself to change that.

“One of the most useful tools therapeutically is a smile. So I thought ‘well when you can’t actually smile, maybe you can clip on a happy face,’” said Zanker.

When you think of a badge usually it looks like a standard work badge; pretty plain and compact. But because so many of us are wearing masks nowadays, especially our healthcare workers who are also covered in personal protective equipment, it was important to Shayna to create a badge that gives patients a glimpse of who is behind the mask.

As an aspiring doctor herself, she knows the importance of bedside manner and the importance of trust between a patient and doctor.

“Especially in uncertain times and especially when the patients can’t be surrounded by their family,” said Zanker.

So these Smile Badges, Zanker says, “Express humanity and establish a connection between people.”

“One of the real warriors I made a badge for is Dr. Saccoo. He is the medical director of the CT hospice and he is one of my mentors,” said Zanker.

“I have found in showing people my smiling face ID I do get a smile out of them,” said Dr. Saccoo the Medical Director of Connecticut Hospice.

Dr. Sacco, who specializes in palliative care, wears his badge proudly.

“Here we are often managing people at the end of life we are managing them symptomatically but so much of what we do is about the relationship that we have with the patients at the bedside and their families,” said Dr. Saccoo.

Zanker created these to showcase the smiles of those on the frontlines, and to add bring warmth and peace of mind to those who are ill during these uncertain times.

“I think that Shayna is as much a part of our care team as anyone of us,” said Dr. Saccoo.

Which is why she is a warrior.

“A smile has gone such a long way,” said Zanker.

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