Nurses Lesley Pyjas and Lisa Bailey make a powerful team.

Pyjas, from the VA Western New York Healthcare System, and Bailey, from the Northport VA Medical Center, recently joined forces to help staff and residents of the New Jersey State Veterans Homes in Paramus and Menlo Park.

Their efforts were part of VA’s Fourth mission to support the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nurse duo provided infection control training in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care staff in state Veteran homes severely impacted by the virus.

VA Nurse Lesley Pyjas

Strategies and procedures provide a roadmap for nurses in state Veterans homes

Lisa Bailey is a Certified Infection Control Nurse. Bailey outlined a strategy for testing staff and patients and for contact tracing. Part of her strategy also included managing placement of those residents testing positive.

She was also instrumental in development of at least 20 standard operating procedures created by VA Incident command. They included Extended Use/Reuse Contact Transmission Based Precautions of Personal Protective Equipment and Discontinuation of COVID-19 Transmission Based Precautions.

Bailey also returned to the Paramus New Jersey State Veterans Home a second time to provide mentoring for a newly hired infection control nurse.

Self-care and stress management training offer a lifeline during early days of pandemic

Lesley Pyjas is a Veterans Health Education Coordinator and a Nurse Educator. She delivered training on team-based care approaches, stress management, and staff self-care. In her classes, Pyjas explained the common causes and symptoms of stress encountered by health care providers in the COVID-19 era. She also offered coping strategies to help prevent or reduce the effects of stress.

This teambuilding and self-care support was essential for staff, as the training occurred early in the COVID-19 pandemic when the New Jersey area was experiencing high incidence of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes.

Training helps employees caring for Veterans

Members of the New Jersey national guard (pictured above) equally served alongside New Jersey state employees and VA deployed staff members at the homes. All worked together to improve care quality and safe delivery of care to Veteran residents.

Bailey’s and Pyjas’ efforts to train staff at the New Jersey State Veterans Homes and to protect patients from the spread of infection have empowered employees to be more confident in performing care and have reduced the spread of infection to vulnerable elderly Veteran residents. Job well done!

For more information about VA nurses, visit:

This blog is part of a VA series recognizing 2020 as the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. VA salutes the more than 100,000 VA nurses who work tirelessly every day to serve Veterans in communities across the country. VA nurses are committed to taking care of Veterans, bringing comfort and hope to thousands of patients – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We invite you to show your support for these everyday heroes and thank a nurse at your next telehealth or in-person appointment! 

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Published on Oct. 29, 2020

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