TUCSON (KVOA) - February is all about heart, and Tucson has a lot of it.
That has become more obvious as we've watched so many of our neighbors and loved ones step up and put their own lives on the line in the fight against COVID-19 to keep us safe.
All this month, News 4 Tucson is paying tribute to our local heroes on the front-lines of the coronavirus battle.
This special group of people work inside the Tucson Medical Center lab helping doctors make the right decisions for their COVID-19 patients.
It has been all-hands-on-deck for everyone in the healthcare field for the lat year and the work that this lab does behind the scenes ensures that patients receive the best care out there.
The pandemic has shifted the paradigm of the healthcare industry from those directly taking care of patients to housekeeping, food services and the lab. Every person plays an integral role.
"We are one team, and we are on the patients' team," TMC Laboratories Director Sanjay Timbadia said.
The lab is responsible for all testing in the hospital and other doctors offices.
Phlebotomists go into patients' rooms to draw blood for tests many times a day because providers and nurses rely on results to determine how to move forward with patients.
"We see firsthand how COVID has struck our patients population and sometimes they don't make it, but we celebrate the ones that do," Michael Vida, laboratory clinical support manager at TMC, said.
Despite doing life-saving work, they do not consider themselves heroes. Instead, they say they are healthcare warriors.
Timbadia aid that the pandemic has shown him the strength of the people he works with and with so many struggling right now it makes him appreciate what has in life that much more.
"Having heat in the house, having a roof over our head," Timbadia said. "You know all those little things that we take for granted, a pandemic like this should remind us how well we are doing."
Even though a 16 to 20 hour day is not uncommon now, they remain focused on providing the best care for their patients.
"I go home thinking: I hope I did a good job," Timbadia said.
The demand the pandemic has caused for testing disrupted everything they do, but as vaccines are now being distributed to the public, they see hope.
"The light at the end of the tunnel, it was a start," Vidal said.
Despite the stress, long hours and the critical importance of their work, their goal remains the same; providing the best possible care they can for their patients.