If you're not familiar with the campaign #HelloMyNameIs, you should definitely check it out. The simple, "one liner" explanation of this movement is this: #HelloMyNameIs is a campaign for more compassionate care. It was started by a woman named Kate Granger who, while spending time in the hospital made the observation that she often didn't know the names of the folks who were caring for her. She started this campaign to remind the staff about the importance of introductions.
In a conversation with a friend yesterday about the experiences of a recent hospital stay, we were reflecting on the infection protection protocols for caring for people with cystic fibrosis. Before anyone enters the room of a person with CF, regardless of whether it's a room in a hospital or an outpatient room for a regular well visit to CF clinic, the recommendation from the CFF and typical implementation is that they put a gown over their clothes, put gloves on their hands, and add a mask to their face. This is a picture of nobody that I know taken from Google images that represents pretty well what everyone that we see when we go to the doctor or hospital looks like, perhaps minus the cap on the head:
The nurse who takes our vitals is dressed like this. The child life specialist who offers toys and welcomed distractions is dressed like this. The folks who place a PICC line are dressed like this. The nurse or VATs team who shows up to replace the IVs that blow, sometimes multiple times a day, dress like this. Other people who dress in this garb include the doctor, the resident, the fellows, the respiratory therapists, the dieticians, the social workers, the GI docs or ENTs, the cleaning staff, the folks who deliver our meals, everyone who enters our room comes in dressed this way. Name badges, something worn by everyone who works in our hospital, are hidden beneath all of the armor worn by all of the folks caring for us, in any capacity, designed to protect us from infection.
So lets imagine for a moment the trauma that a 5yo endures needing to be restrained to replace a blown IV line. Or the frustration they might feel being woken up for a blood draw at 2 am after having just fallen asleep. When we've spent 3 hours in clinic for a well visit and we've received our after visit summary, ready to go, and then someone new shows up for a "quick culture" or a "short survey", there's frustration felt, especially so when we don't know who they are. When everyone who enters our room looks nearly identical, there is unnecessary fear, anxiety and frustration raised when a nice gentleman coming to deliver a meal is mistaken for someone who might be there for another IV replacement.
What if we added one more piece of armor to the garb, a simple name badge that said "Hello! My name is..." and maybe even their responsibility, the way they're feeling, or their favorite thing to do on the weekend? What if my nurse walked into our room for a clinic visit with a badge that said Hello, my name is Susie and I like warm hugs? I know my kid would be thinking about Olaf and not the fact that shes about to gag him with a culture swab jammed down his throat. Or the food delivery gentleman, "Hello, my name is Sam and the pizza here is my favorite." I think this could go a long way. Whose willing to try it? I'm offering free "Hello! My Name Is..." to the first clinic to test this out.
Or maybe we should think about doing this in reverse, starting with patients! What if we all started wearing these name tags, patients and parents, giving our care teams a glimpse behind the title of patient. What if our kids could make their own, maybe even drawing a picture of how their feeling, starting to share their own narrative, in their own way?
"Hello! My name is Erin and I'm the mom of 4 little kids. I like to read books and connect with like-minded folks on social media. I'm scared about this upcoming visit and what we might learn that could change our life in so many ways." Let's bring #hellomynameis across the ocean in a real and meaningful way. Whose with me?