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Media Advisory: Banner workers share 'Things They Carry' during pandemic

Advance Preview: Visual project to launch May 9 highlighting how medical workers cope

PHOENIX – Banner Health is offering media an opportunity to preview and share an emotionally compelling and visual project, “The Things They Carry,” launching on Sunday to highlight frontline medical workers and the personal items that help them cope and connect during the pandemic.
Through a series of portraits, video interviews and emotional stories on social media, the nonprofit organization will feature medical staff and the things they carried for strength and inspiration to get through the toughest times since COVID swept through Arizona.

Examples in the ongoing series include: 

  • ICU nurse Craig Rufener, whose silver Buddhist prayer ring etched with 82 microscopic words helped him endure grueling overnight shifts
  • Physical therapist Piper Daulton, whose black Hawaiian pearl necklace was a gift from her grandma who died from a non-COVID issue during the pandemic
  • Patient transporter Steve Stanek, who creates bracelets from guitar strings and gives them to patients having an especially tough day
  • ICU nurse Kaleena Holmes, whose plastic unicorn keychain gave her and her coworkers a much-needed reason to smile 

The project is inspired by a popular book about the Vietnam War, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, which humanized the story of the soldiers by focusing on unique things they carried during combat. Profiles will publish on social media during National Hospital Week, which runs Sunday, May 9, through May 15. 

“When things would get me down,” says Stanek, 61, “I’d look down on my wrist and I always knew that music could save me and make me feel better.” 

Media may feel free to use any video interviews, photos and detailed captions located here. Banner is also happy to arrange for additional interviews.

Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 30 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit

Banner Health COVID-19 Awareness

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