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Windowed Mask Project: A game-changer for healthcare workers

The trial has been in place for at least a month, and so far, the response has been positive.

NEW ORLEANS — When the pandemic began, Hayley Keller and Paula Diannitto were concerned about how they'd do their job.

"COVID-19 has really tested our creativity and our ability to adapt," Diannitto said.

Speech and language pathologists, Keller's and Diannitto's faces are an important tool for the NICU babies, children and adults they treat.

"We get a lot of cues when we're communicating with people through their facial expressions and being able to read their lips," Diannitto said.

Their faces covered by a mask because of the pandemic, they had to re-evaluate.

"These babies have been here one, two, three months, and they've never seen a mouth. They've never been able to mimic us," Keller said.

They said they did some digging and learned about Ochsner's Windowed Mask Project, an initiative giving medical professionals see-through masks. After requesting to be part of it, Keller and Diannitto soon became two of the people at Ochsner Baptist testing them out.

"The clear part, it just shows our mouths, so it really highlights that area of our face. The eyes and mouth, people see pretty clearly," Keller said.

"I was excited to try it and see the innovation, and I'm really thrilled to see the reaction from the parents," Diannitto said.

Turns out, the masks have been a game-changer.

"It was hard to tell when you're feeding them or working with them if they're even looking at me because they just look around," Keller said. "Now, I'm aware once we put these masks on. I was like oh my goodness this baby has been looking at me the whole time."

For Keller and Diannitto, the masks have done more than just help patients. It's helped them find joy during these tough times, which they said is a win-win for all.

"Bigger smiles, bigger giggles when the masks are on which is fun," they said.

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