It’s a busy Friday morning on CHOC’s Orange campus, and a steady stream of staff, young patients and their parents make their way to a COVID-19 screening station.
After answering questions about COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposures and have body temperatures 100.4 degrees or lower, patients and their guardians who clear screening are asked to place a small round sticker on their upper body before they head to their appointments.
The stickers are a different color every day, and they tell others that their wearers have no COVID-19 symptoms or exposure. This screening process is one of a host of processes and procedures in place to ensure CHOC’s facilities are safe for patients, families, staff and physicians.
These other safety measures include daily health screenings for staff; masking and increased personal protective equipment when necessary; physical distancing practices; enhanced cleaning practices; and COVID-19 vaccination for staff and providers.
Health screenings are conducted by members of the CHOC team, and during slower stretches of their shifts, many of the screeners have taken to adding kid-friendly doodles to the small circular stickers worn by patients and families.
Balloon hearts. Bear paw prints. Lollipops. Dinosaurs. Whales. Popsicles. Elephants.
The list goes on.
And while far from professional renderings and just a small gesture, the drawings cheer up young patients who sometimes might feel scared about visiting the doctor.
“I really love the dinosaur sticker!” one girl declared before heading to her appointment.
Madison McCracken, an EMT and emergency department tech, has been a CHOC screener for two months.
“We are defenders of childhood,” Madison says. “While going to the doctors might be scary, drawing on little dots is one way we can defend childhood and have fun.”
Winnie Le, a clinical nurse and supervisor of the screening program, oversees the 50 to 75 screeners who sign up for shifts in six-week schedules and are stationed at a handful of locations throughout the Orange hospital campus.
“I’m glad to see that screeners are getting creative with their skills,” Winnie says.
Chloe Parise has been serving as a screener for nearly six months.
“Drawing on the stickers is important to me because even drawing something as simple as a smiley face can brighten someone’s day,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much of an impact it was making until some coworkers were telling me how excited the kids were about the stickers.
“It may not seem like it at first, but a drawing on a sticker can help focus on the positive side of things, and parents can forget the stressful reason their child is at the doctor’s for just a second and smile at the pizza doodle that someone made.”
When Chloe first started drawing on stickers, she noticed patients chose a sticker with a doodle over a blank one every time.
“So, I started drawing smiley faces, muffins and tacos because those were things I loved to draw on my homework when I was in high school,” she says.
“The next week, they wanted me to do it again, and people were commenting on how much they loved them. A security guard at CHOC gifted me some colored pens he wasn’t using not long after that, and I’ve been doing my best to draw on every sticker I can ever since.”
Chloe’s screening co-worker was Davina Lance, a health information nurse who has been at CHOC for 31 years.
Davina says she loves working as a screener because she doesn’t see patients much during her regular duties, which mostly involve her performing triage over the phone.
“I used to get a little fix seeing the kids in the hospital hallways, but COVID has changed all of that,” Davina says. “So, I love being a screener.”
Davina bought a set of colored gel pens and keeps her designs simple.
“Believe me, I’m no artist,” she says with a laugh. “But when I’m going through the screening questions with a parent, the child is looking at which sticker he or she wants to choose. It happens every time.”
Davina draws doodles appropriate to the season or day. She went to town during the holiday season, and on the first day of March 2021, she drew bunny faces because spring and Easter are around the corner.
“It was also windy today,” Davina says. “So I drew kites.”