On the Front Lines of Fighting the Virus

Local nurse and mother of two talks about working during a pandemic

Tuesday, April 7, is the 70th World Health Day — a global health awareness event sponsored by the World Health Organization. This year’s World Health Day, of course, has taken on special significance with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The theme for World Health Day 2020 is to support nurses and midwives. To help mark the day, we talk with Samantha Banning, who is a registered nurse in Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Emergency Department and also works for Penn State’s College of Nursing as a nursing instructor. Banning, who lives in State College with her husband and two daughters (Leah, 7, and Ellie, 18 months), shares what work has been like for her since the pandemic hit Centre County — and also her and her family’s love of reading at Schlow!

What has life been like for you working through all of this?

Banning: For me, being a nurse right now is pretty anxiety provoking! No amount of experience or education really truly can prepare you for something like this. Change is happening on a daily basis and you just have to work to the best of your abilities.

What made you want to get into the medical field?

Banning: After having a grandfather who suffered a massive stroke and was left permanently handicapped, seeing how the nurses interacted with him on a daily basis really peaked my interest in nursing. It was touching to see how sometimes doing even the smallest things could make such a big difference in his care. 

How is your family handling being at home?

Banning: We are all starting to go stir crazy, as I’m sure most people are right now! It’s chaos, but we are making the best of it. We make a point to get the kids outside every day for at least a quick walk to help get rid of some excess energy! 

What are your kids doing during their days?

Banning: The kids have gotten really creative at finding ways to stay entertained! There are toys all over the house! Lots of art, reading, movies, and dance parties! We have also been busy homeschooling our 7 year old and making sure we keep up with daily learning, which is definitely a challenge some days. I have immense gratitude for our school district’s educators.

Do you enjoy reading? Are there things you're reading now that are helping you during this time?

Banning: I love reading! I have ever since I was a child. I prefer mystery and suspense books but  right now I have been focusing pretty much all of my reading on news articles and nursing and medical research — and reading endless amounts of children’s books with my kids!  

What do your daughters enjoy reading? 

Banning: The kids love their books! There are just as many books all over the house as there are toys. Our youngest loves flipping through pretty much any book she can get her hands on and a few favorites that are read to her ad nauseam on a daily basis. Our oldest has become very interested in the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, which has been a lot of fun and pretty nostalgic for me as I have read most of these as a child! 

Your kids love visiting Schlow. What do they love best about the library? 

Banning: We like to do a lot of the reading programs at Schlow with the kids. Our oldest did the Summer Reading Program this past summer and really enjoyed it! We are currently doing the 1,000 books before kindergarten program with our youngest. We also did the StoryWalk at Autumnwood Park back in September, which was a lot of fun! Since the library has closed we have used Libby through Schlow to access eBooks and eAudiobooks, which has been great!

What are you and your family most looking forward to doing once the stay-at-home orders end?

Banning: I think what we are most looking forward to is being able to connect with other family members and friends in person again! 

For anyone who wants to help or say Thank You to you and all nurses and everyone in the medical profession who are basically at the front lines of this, any tips or anything you'd like to say?

Banning: We are just as worried about staying healthy as everyone else, and even more worried about potentially exposing the rest of our household  to what we may encounter at work. The most comforting thing anyone can do for all of us is to show us respect, kindness, and compassion as we work to take care of others during these trying times. 


Posted 4/6/2020