Montreal·Video

Faces hidden due to PPE, Royal Victoria ICU nurses don portraits of themselves

The nurses of the MUHC's Royal Victoria Hospital intensive-care unit are now wearing pictures of themselves, so that patients and colleagues can recognize them through their face masks, shields and hospital gowns.

Project originated during the Ebola crisis, as way to humanize nurses in full gear

Royal Victoria Hospital nurse Caroline Coutu has made the PPE Portrait Project a reality in the ICU. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

The nurses of the MUHC's Royal Victoria Hospital intensive-care unit are now wearing pictures of themselves so that patients and colleagues can recognize them through their face masks, shields and hospital gowns.

They took inspiration from American artist Mary Beth Heffernan, who during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Liberia spearheaded the PPE Portrait Project there. 

The driving force behind the McGill University Health Centre initiative was Adamo Donovan, a PhD student and the co-founder of the ICU Bridge Program, which helps university students volunteer in intensive care.

Despite not being allowed inside the hospital due to COVID-19 restrictions, Donovan worked alongside ICU nurse Caroline Coutu to ensure the nurses could wear portraits of themselves.

Lanyards with laminated photos are meant to be worn outside of patients' rooms, so nurses can recognize each other, and for when they speak to family members. When the nurses go inside the rooms, they put sanitized stickers on the gown that goes over their scrubs.

Due to restrictions on visits to the hospital, CBC News met with both Donovan and Coutu outside of the MUHC.

The nurses of the MUHC's Royal Victoria Hospital Intensive Care unit are now wearing pictures of themselves so that patients and colleagues can recognize them through the face masks, shields and hospital gowns. 1:23

About the Author

Sarah Leavitt

Journalist

Sarah Leavitt is a journalist with CBC Montreal.

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