Hospital leader who spent time in COVID-19 unit flips light switch on UT Health Christmas tree

UT Health Tyler Tree Lighting

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas hospital leader who spent 17 days in his hospital’s COVID-19 unit flipped the switch on the lights for the Christmas tree at UT Health East Texas in Tyler on Tuesday evening.

Chief Operating Officer Brian Brennan can typically be found walking through the halls of the hospital in a suit and tie, but he traded that for a hospital gown in July after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Thankfully, it was actually pretty mild as far as the respiratory symptoms,” Brennan said. “I had a headache and a sinus infection. Never had a fever, never had a cough.”

But that would be just the beginning of his COVID-19 journey.

“I thought everything was going well,” he said. “Six days after my diagnosis, my appendix ruptured.”

That prompted emergency surgery followed by complications that resulted in Brennan spending more than two weeks in the COVID-19 unit.

“I got to spend 17 days on the COVID-19 floor watching the nurses, the doctors, the techs, all of the caregivers that we have. Just working in a whole different capacity than what I was used to seeing before from being on the other side as an administrator versus now being on that side a patient,” he said.

His unique perspective as a hospital leader turned COVID-19 patient brings us to the hospital’s big Christmas tree that Brennan was selected to light. He said that the tree lighting isn’t about him, but the caregivers who cared for him and continue to care for East Texans.

“It’s not about me,” he said. “I had a month to two months of a really difficult trip, but there’s a lot of people that have worked a lot harder than me, and have had a really rough year, so I’m really dedicating this to them.”

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