Local nurse gives Novant patients a smile with badge buddy

Published 12:01 am Sunday, May 3, 2020

By Shavonne Potts


SALISBURY — When a nurse, doctor, or other hospital personnel smiles these days it’s hard to tell from behind the masks that they wear throughout their response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Sometimes patients just want to see a smile from medical staff indicated Novant Health Rowan Medical Center Registered Nurse Katie Lyerly. Lyerly, who typically works in the orthopedic unit, created a “badge buddy” for a few co-workers that included a message to patients and a picture.

“It was for our patients but also for our co-workers because we also haven’t seen each other smile in a while because we wear our masks around each other,” Lyerly said.

She said a smile behind the mask is not quite the same.

Lyerly typically works in the orthopedic unit, but that unit is now operating as a medical-surgical (med-surg) unit that takes care of patients with a wide variety of medical issues or patients who are recovering from surgery.

She’s made between 15 to 20 badge buddies for a few of her immediate co-workers and her siblings, who work in other parts of the hospital. Lyerly is one of a set of triplets and has made the badge buddies for some of her siblings’ co-workers as well.

The idea, in part, came after Lyerly recalled what a patient said about not being able to fully see the staff.

In the beginning, the patient had been used to seeing the faces of the staff and then everyone he subsequently was in contact with wore a mask.

“He just told me, ‘I just miss seeing everybody’s smiles,’ ” Lyerly said.

The badge buddy has been used by the hospital to explain previous campaigns to patients. But it had never been used to display a picture of an employee and include a personalized message to patients.

Lyerly said she saw the idea via a nursing Facebook group page where a Wilmington nurse had created a similar badge buddy and her thoughts went back to her patient who said he missed seeing hospital staff faces.

The response from staff and patients has been positive, Lyerly said, with one patient noting that, “it’s nice to see what you look like.”

She said in that moment she “didn’t realize what the rest of your face can say about you.”

Lyerly said she’ll continue to make more because everyday people still ask her to make them one.

Lyerly said if others ask her to make them one, she’ll continue to make more.