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Heroes of COVID-19: Hospital leaders

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Leading a team of health care professionals during a pandemic is an emotionally and physically demanding test.

Taking on that challenge day after day would be too much to handle for many people.

That's why News 4 Tucson wanted to shine a light on the hidden heroes of health care. The people who run our local hospitals.

Hospital administrators don't always get the credit they deserve. It's a demanding job any day of the week. Imagine leading the fight against a pandemic.

Judy Rich, President and CEO of Tucson Medical Centers said, "I tell people it's like flying the plane while you're building it because everything was unknown."

Mimi Coomler, COO of Tucson Medical Center agrees. She says every new day brought new and rapidly changing challenges.

"It's hard to change, it's hard to come in and ensure that you know exactly what to do today for this type of patient because it was different the day before as new data and new studies emerged. So this sort of spirit of resilience has been a theme for TMC," Coomler said.

Coomler has seen the fatigue and the sadness in the faces of her staff.

"It is some of the hardest days I've ever experienced and I know for our team it is the hardest days that they've ever experienced. Losing members of our community, losing one of our own to COVID-19 has been very difficult to cope with," said Coomler.

Hospital administrators have also been pushed to the edge.

"I've absolutely had emotional days," said Jennifer Schomburg, CEO of Northwest Medical Center and Oro Valley Hospital.

Schombur says it takes a team to care for a community during a pandemic. And she, like the other humble heroes in the front office, prefers to give all the credit to the rest of the team.

"I am so proud of the work that they've done, everyone from our housekeepers to our pharmacists, to our nurses, respiratory therapists, doctors, every single person in our health care system really pulled together and took care of this community," said Schomburg.

Coomler says she used to think the word hero was trite. Working through this pandemic the past year changed her mind.

"But the word hero is perfect. They are brave, they are strong, they are committed, they show up day in and day out and have done an incredible job," Coomler said.

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John Overall

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