coronavirus illinois

Eyes on the Frontline: New Chicago Photo Project Focuses on Healthcare Workers

A frontline worker wants to spread hope by sharing their emotional experiences

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It’s mandatory for healthcare workers to wear masks as part of their personal protective equipment, which means the only thing you can really see on their face are their eyes. 

Pay special attention, says Advocate Trinity Hospital’s Chief Nurse Executive Jacquelyn Whitten-Bailey, “because the eyes on the front lines tell a story. They tell a story about what they are going through.“

Whitten-Bailey is a former US Army specialist who drove trucks and transported heavy equipment. That experience gave her a unique understanding of how to mobilize and motivate her healthcare team. 

“One day, I was rounding through the hospital, and I noticed an associate -- her eyes. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me. I could tell that something was wrong.”

L’Toya Johnston, a cardiac technician at Advocate Trinity Hospital, was having a bad day. The night before, she was awakened from her sleep to sounds of looters trying to break into a store across the street.   

“And then I noticed there were people walking around with several different types of guns, and I was scared and wanted to know what was going on,” she says.

Whitten-Bailey was able to talk her through her anxiety. It’s one of the reasons she created the Eyes on the Frontline Photo Project.

“I believe in encouraging everyone, and I think when you look in peoples' eyes and you stay positive, you can help people have hope.”

So she enlisted Betty Wright, an amateur photographer who works as  a supply chain technician at the hospital.

“I saw pain in people eyes. I saw exhaustion, I saw laughter, I saw a lot of different things that you guys will probably love to see once we get all the images together,” said Wright.

The hospital plans to create a public photo gallery so everyone can see the Eyes on the Frontline Photo Project.

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