Lisa Candito has medical training and is certified as a Specialized Clinical Technician and Medical Assistant. She brings over 23 years of healthcare industry experience to her job as Business Office Coordinator for Springpoint at Home where she is responsible for billing and scheduling. In addition, Lisa facilitates long term care insurance reimbursement and is the supervisor to the Intake Scheduling Coordinators for Springpoint at Home.
Lisa is also one of two COVID-19 survivors from Ocean Medical Hospital in Brick, N.J. Her story is a testament to the dedication of nurses and an appropriate story to tell during National Nurses Week.
In March of 2020 when Lisa arrived at the hospital, she was taken into the emergency room with dangerously low oxygen levels and double pneumonia. The ER staff told her she was not going to make it.
Lisa was in and out of consciousness the first three weeks she was in the hospital and has no memory of that time. Twice during her month-long hospital stay she was brought to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and later discovered she almost died twice.
Lisa remembers the day she woke up after three weeks of being out of it and, for the first time, her room was bright, sunny and cheery. She remembers asking the nurse what day it was and was shocked the month had turned from March to April while she was fighting to live. Lisa’s response was a resounding yes when the nurse asked if she would like to get out of bed and get washed up.
“I’m a strong person. I believe I can persevere to get through any challenge, a trait I get from my mom. When the nurse asked me if I wanted to get out of bed, all I could think of was I almost died in that bed. Even though I had no muscle tone and could not walk or stand by myself, I knew I had to get up and continue to fight.”
“The nurses on 5 South at Ocean Medical Hospital in Brick, NJ were my guardian angels. As tired as they were, they never showed their exhaustion. They were loving and caring and never complained or made me feel like a burden, not once and I needed a lot of help walking, dressing and going to the bathroom.”
COVID survivors will tell you that there are residual effects from this disease. For Lisa, her hair fell out, her skin is not the same, she has insomnia and recall can be a problem. Her oxygen levels are good, but she is left with nodules in her lungs that must be watched. The heavy and tight feeling in her chest is due to her compromised lungs and often leaves her short of breath. “My doctor recommends that I walk to build up my lung muscles, but in the humidity, I have trouble breathing. I recently bought a treadmill to walk inside.”
Recently, the hospital held a memorial and Lisa went to see the workers who fought so hard for her. These angels, as Lisa calls them, are still fighting for their COVID patients.
“I went there to let the hospital staff see me in a different light, to see that I am doing OK and to thank them. What I did not expect was for ME to give THEM closure. One of the nurses started telling a story about a patient who fought so hard for their life: ‘When this patient came out of the worst of it and was sitting up in the chair, they never complained. She was worried about us and would ask “How are you?”, “Are you OK?’”
“It wasn’t until the end that I knew I was the person in the story. The nurse went on to say, ‘Because you fought so hard and you are here with us, you remind us again why we do what we do. You will forever hold a special place in our hearts as the most memorable patient. Seeing you here gives us hope.’”
“Almost dying changes you. I live day-by-day now to enjoy my life and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is a gift and you don’t know when and how it might be taken from you. I was blessed to be there, blessed to have made it through with the help and prayers from my family, friends and so many people all over who prayed hard for my recovery and of course, my nurse guardian angels. There was nothing more important to me than to get back home to my family and beautiful grandbabies!”
As Lisa says, “It is important to get vaccinated, if not for yourself but for others’ wellness and safety.”