‘It’s not just a job, it’s a passion’

Lisa Belinfanti, Lead Nurse Practitioner at Bayonne Medical Center, has been fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic

Lisa Belinfanti (left) and other nurses operate drive-thru testing in the city.
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Lisa Belinfanti (left) and other nurses operate drive-thru testing in the city.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses have been attending to sick patients day and night battling the virus.

Lisa Belinfanti, Lead Nurse Practitioner at Bayonne Medical Center, has been fighting on the frontlines of the pandemic in Bayonne.

Belinfanti has been tending to COVID-19 patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and overseeing other nurse practitioners, all while spearheading the drive-thru testing in the city and leading the convalescent plasma therapy program at the hospital.

Before the pandemic, Belinfanti said she used to cover all floors, primarily the telemetry floor where patients were more stable. Things changed during the COVID-19 crisis, when she was move to the ICU and other critical care units to care for the sickest patients being treated for the virus.

The pandemic has made work intense, but it is a challenge that Belinfanti has been able to persevere through.

Drive-thru testing

Belinfanti spearheaded the COVID-19 drive-thru testing process for the facility in Bayonne. The site, at Don Ahern Veteran’s Stadium near 25th Street and Avenue A, tests only symptomatic patients with a valid appointment from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Every day Belinfanti said a rotating team of nurses swab community residents for the virus.

Initially testing only started with patients from CarePoint physicians but expanded to first responders and eventually patients from all doctors in the community.

In addition to her efforts towards the drive-thru testing process, Belinfanti has also been leading the convalescent plasma therapy program at Bayonne Medical Center.

Convalescent plasma therapy involves the distribution of collected COVID-19 survivor blood plasma containing antibodies that can overcome the virus.

Belinfanti has been enrolling patients in the program, consents those patients to the therapy, and explaining the ins and outs of the procedure.

Afterwards, she checks on the patients four hours post-transfusion and seven days post-transfusion, with daily follow-ups in between to see if there is any change in the clinical status of the patient.

Staying positive

In addition to being a leader in her work environment, Belinfanti is also renowned for constant positivity, especially considering the times.

“I think you just have to love what you do and sort of look at the bright side,” Belinfanti said. “It could be worse even though it’s pretty scary right now.”

To help keep an optimistic mindset, Belinfanti says her love for what she does exceeds everything else about the job.

“For me it’s not just a job, it’s a passion,” she said. “That’s what keeps me positive.”

However, that hasn’t always been easy. Belinfanti said there has been an emotional toll working during the pandemic, but that things are beginning to get brighter.

Seeing patients when it started, she was very sad to see them sedated and intubated. But that has changed.

“It’s nice to see patients turn around, checking in on them seven days later and seeing they’re going home with their family,” Belinfanti continued.

Yet she kept off much of the emotional toll by staying positive and optimistic, which she is known for.

“For, me it was hoping that there was going to be a turn for the better and keeping that hope and faith,” Belinfanti said.

Better now

Now, Belinfanti is witnessing things at the hospital return slowly back to normal. That turnaround she had been hoping for has finally begun to arrive.

Belinfanti said that most her of patients are doing better, with no need to be sedated or intubated.

As she witnesses a turn in prognosis of many of her patients, Belinfanti remains optimistic about the future as the state begins to reopen certain aspects of society that closed due to Gov. Murphy’s stay-at-home order and social distancing efforts.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.