Becky Ostrom

I’m a resident here in this nursing home;

And my life has been turned upside down

I can’t read your face — like I used to do,

Can’t tell a smile from a frown

It’s that mask you wear;

It hides your face!

Plus, it makes you hard to hear

I’m a little bit scared—

And my family can’t come!

What you see on my face is a tear …

They say it’s the flu

A very “bad type”

To “protect me” — that’s what they say —

How I need to read that love on your face!

But that mask gets in the way

I can still hear your voice;

And your tone remains kind

Your hands are gentle too

But that mask on your face — it bothers us both!

And there’s nothing we can do.

Just remember to smile at me,

Using your eyes;

As you render my care — every task

Your eyes say a lot;

I’ll be watching them close

I hope it’s not too much to ask

Promise me this;

As soon as you can

You’ll care for me just like before

You’ll show me that smile;

That I so dearly love —

And you’ll leave that mask at the door!

Becky Ostrom, RN, is vice president of clinical risk management for Empire Risk Management Services located in Chicago. She was inspired to write the above poem after witnessing the impact of personal protective equipment in the long-term care setting.