Reports from hospital doctors suggest that wearing masks inhibits communication and some doctors have chosen to pin a picture of their smiling face to the front of their gown to encourage communication and trust building. How do you feel social distancing, including wearing masks and telemedicine appointments, is changing healthcare?  

Before COVID-19 ever appeared on the scene, healthcare was losing direct contact with their patients.  A typical office appointment was with the Physician Assistant or nurse sitting behind, or at best beside, a computer asking a script of questions and typing in responses. Then the doctor arrives, same thing, computer the focus, eye contact, not so much. Adding teleconferencing or face to face interactions while wearing a mask isn’t that much different.

I am so sorry to say we lost eye contact a long time ago. William Shakespeare said, “The eyes are the window to your soul.” We look in a person’s eyes to find truth, to develop trust. We started losing that healing tool, eye contact, long before this pandemic began.

How are we going to regain that trust in this time of social distancing? Through our words and our eyes. We can even say “look into my eyes. I am here for you. I will only tell you the truth as I know it. These are scary times. We’ll do this together.” 

Showing our personhood has often been considered the opposite of professionalism. I say showing our humanity is the height of professionalism. It builds a trust that is so needed in this scary, uncertain time. It opens the door to healing. 

Healing is more than pills and procedures. Healing is found in comfort, in truth, in trust, in the eyes. Not in a picture but in personhood conveyed in person or even through teleconferencing.