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Children’s hospital’s creative ‘Button Project’ is the perfect way to calm intimidated kids

Now, patients can see the faces of their familiar nurses amid pandemic

Children's Hospital has launched the "Button Project" to help child patients feel better about seeing everyone in masks at the hospital during COVID-19.
Children's Hospital has launched the "Button Project" to help child patients feel better about seeing everyone in masks at the hospital during COVID-19. (Susan Urmy, Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

This story is a part of our "Something Good" series, which is designed to remind you of all the goodness in the world: the moments that can make you smile, feel warm inside and applaud humanity.


Hospitals can be an intimidating place, especially for children. Add that everyone around them is in masks, and it can be even more stressful.

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville has come up with a creative way to keep everyone safe and allow the children to actually see the face of the nurse who’s working with them.

The Button Project came to life after the people at the Children’s Hospital decided they needed to get creative to ensure the children and families who visit the clinics each day can see the same friendly faces they’ve always known, that now exist behind masks.

Health care providers were concerned that having their faces covered by masks could create unnecessary stress.

Because of that, the Family Resource Center, along with the VUMC Badge Office, has been identifying teams and their staffers across the Children’s Hospital who would like a photo button of their faces to wear on their shirts so that their patients can tell who they are.

“Masks can be scary for some children, depending on their developmental stage,” said Barb Shultz, administrative director of Surgical Services. “Our goal is to ensure that patients and families feel safe during their stay, so the staff decided to find a creative way to wear colorful, fun masks and personalized buttons so everyone could see their faces. I am so proud of them.”

So far, more than 150 buttons have been distributed to teams and staff across the Children’s Hospital and Surgical Service.

Nurse Cory Smeltzer and Charlaysia Rucker, with Patient Services, working with a 5-year-old patient while wearing their button.

Children's Hospital has launched the "Button Project" to help child patients feel better about seeing everyone in masks at the hospital during COVID-19.
Nurse Cory Smeltzer and Charlaysia Rucker, with Patient Services, working with a 5-year-old patient while wearing their button. Children's Hospital has launched the "Button Project" to help child patients feel better about seeing everyone in masks at the hospital during COVID-19. (Susan Urmy, Vanderbilt University Medical Center)

Shultz said because the health care providers have a special gift for caring for children through expressions and verbal communication, the buttons are a great way to help do that.

“We have a great team of professionals who continue to put patients’ and families’ emotional and personal safety first,” she said.

We can’t help but wonder, could other hospitals follow suit? We’ll be keeping an eye out to see.

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