SAN ANTONIO — Brittany Teeter knows it’s not easy being a laboratory manager, especially during a pandemic. 

“When the pandemic first hit, it was scary for the lab in the sense that we are testing for COVID. We have to isolate COVID, we have to take it out of whatever and concentrate it,” Teeter says.

Even though she and the crew at University Health were caught off guard by the pandemic, they didn't let that deter them.

JJ Leal and Brittany Teeter after the parade honoring them and 40 other health care workers. (Spectrum News 1/Jose Arredondo)

“We increased testing, we were able to offer overtime in some cases just because we were so busy,” Teeter says. “Nothing stopped for us because of the pandemic.” 

It was just as busy for JJ Leal who is the director of surgical services at Texas Vista Medical Center on San Antonio’s Southside. 

“To meet the needs of the entire hospital, certain areas had to be given up. So PACU became a clean ICU because the actual ICU patients were going to the intensive care areas,” Leal says. 

It was rough for Leal and his units, but he says everyone in the hospital pulled together. 

“You could see the CEO working alongside a housekeeper,” Leal says. “Getting stuff done, people left, if they were compartmentalized in where they typically worked in, that all went out the window. Everybody picked up different responsibilities and as a team, it was impressive to see.” 

Both Teeter and Leal, alongside 40 other health care workers from University and Texas Vista, were honored with a parade, which was set by Michael Quintanilla. The parade helped kick off Fiesta and it made its way through Hemisfair Plaza. 

“It’s time to get out and celebrate, actually get out with people you know. With the vaccinations, with what they are, I think people are realizing maybe it is safe to get out of there more and socialization, is an important thing,” Lead said. 

“It is amazing, people yelling ‘go health care heroes,' yes, I love it,” Teeter says. 

They’ve been on the frontlines for a year and three months, and the work hasn’t stopped yet, but Leal says he can feel the love. 

“I think as a health care worker, we are proud to be recognized,” Leal says.