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'Behind the Mask' initiative helps healthcare workers bring joy to their workplace

It’s called “Behind the Mask”
Behind the Mask, Mercy Hospital
Posted at 5:39 PM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 21:33:27-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — It’s no secret that healthcare workers are feeling the brunt of the pandemic but, one local initiative is trying to help them take care of themselves and bring some joy to their workplaces.

Everyone has heard so much about masks during the pandemic, but for Frances Mortensen, a traveling social worker, she’s referring to a different kind of face covering.

It’s called “Behind the Mask” and it's a creative outlet for hospital staff, nurses, doctors, and physicians at Mercy Hospital in downtown Bakersfield, and at Mercy Hospital Southwest as well. It's an opportunity for healthcare professionals to spend a few minutes of their day decorating masks and taking a break from the challenges of delivering care, especially in these times.

“I love it. I love doing arts and crafts, I find it very therapeutic and relaxing. I thought it was a great idea,” said Mortensen.

It was a workshop hosted by the Art and Spirituality Center at Mercy Hospitals. They set up tables in certain parts of the hospital with plain masks and craft supplies like glitter, markers, paint, feathers, and more. Anyone who wanted to participate could decorate their mask and express their feelings.

“We’ve been wearing masks now for 22 months at all times in the hospital and there might be some things that people feel they can’t show to others or that’s hiding because of that mask," explained Sara Moore, supervisor of the Art and Spirituality Center at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals. "So being able to create this mask in all the beautiful ways people did, it really gave them an opportunity to look inward and create something outwardly they want people to see.”

Moore said the goal was to give the ones who have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, an opportunity to spend a few minutes of their day decorating masks and taking a break from the challenges of delivering care.

The masks were up on display for about a week at the hospitals and then returned to their creators.

Moore said it’s a trickle-down effect, because if staff are happier, they can also support their patients better.

“It all starts here. We have to take care of us so that we’re able to care for others better.”