Family of 4 nurses takes on COVID-19 on front lines

A couple and their two daughters are all working in California hospitals.

June 22, 2020, 10:46 PM

For the Penson family, nursing is a family business.

For years now, Mike Penson has worked alongside his wife, Retta Penson, and their two daughters, Tayler and Carly Penson, at Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals along the central coast of California.

During the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, their work has been relentless -- but still, the family made time to be together on Father's Day.

"[We] went out, played a little bit of golf, had a nice dinner, watched a little TV. That's it," Mike Penson told ABC News.

His daughters were just kids when they first posed in nurse hats, and he still remembers the moment they told him they wanted to be just like him.

"When they said they wanted to do it, I thought it was great. I know that both of them are really caring," he said. "It just seemed like it would be a good fit for them to become nurses. So I'm really proud that they did."

From left to right, Carly, Mike, Retta and Taylor Penson are seen here during an interview with ABC News.
From left to right, Carly, Mike, Retta and Taylor Penson are seen here during an interview with ABC News.
ABC News

Mike and Retta gave their oldest daughter, Tayler, a real stethoscope as a teenager after she expressed interest in their profession. She still uses it today.

"When I got this as a present [it] kind of just confirmed my choice," she told ABC News. "I know how much it's made an impact in their lives and then for me to be able to hold this kind of power, it meant a lot."

She now works right alongside her dad in the intensive care unit of French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo.

Mike is aware of the dangers his family faces every day. They have all treated patients with COVID-19, and Tayler's younger sister, Carly, works in the emergency room.

"We have the PPE so it's like taking care of any other patient. We just have to be more careful using the PPE," Carly told ABC News.

Mike Penson is grateful for his family and the common ground they've gained.

"Now everyone at the dinner table can understand what everyone's talking about," Mike Penson said. "It's interesting hearing what they do or what they learn and comparing it to what we had... It's been fun."

"Everybody's been working really hard. This is a serious situation that we're all in right now," he added. "And we'll do what we can to keep everybody healthy."

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