Medispa to re-open Friday, offering antibody test

Newton and Sparta. People returning to work can find out if they have been exposed to the coronavirus and built up antibodies that may protect them from infection.

Newton /
02 Jun 2020 | 11:21

Many small businesses are waiting fervently for Gov. Phil Murphy to move forward with his reopening plan. Others have been given the greenlight, including a small business on the border of Sparta and Newton that is offering a test for antibodies. Want to find out if you’ve had COVID-19 or another SARS virus? Bella Medispa & Salon says it can help.

A medispa is a business that offers a medical program operated under the supervision of a licensed health care professional. Bella Medispa, which opened in 1989, offers vitamin therapy, microneedling, fillers, and Botox, among other medical beauty procedures. These services are overseen by Mokhtar Asaadi, who has more than 35 years of experience as a plastic surgeon and is also chair of plastic surgery at St. Barnabas Medical Center; head nurse Jose Garces, RN; and Fiorella Paradisi, an advanced practice nurse.

Husband-and-wife team Garces and Paradisi head up the Alternative Therapy Program, which includes antibody testing among other services. Some companies will reportedly be requiring antibody tests before allowing employees to return to work.

Antibody tests are blood tests that can show if you had a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and usually provide protection against getting that disease again, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Bella’s salon, located in a separate part of the building, offers traditional spa and beauty services. This part of the business will remain closed until, like other beauty salons in the state, it is permitted to open.

“Since the state shut down three months ago, we have been offering hands-free drop-off and delivery of all retail products and at-home vitamin and immunity shots,” said owner Laura Rinaolo. “Twenty five percent of sales are being donated back to nurses working on the front line. As of June 5th the medispa will begin offering the Bioreference antibody test with telehealth results and consultations being scheduled 24 to 48 hours after the test. It’s exciting to be able to open our medical part of the business again on Friday.”

Paradisi said the blood draw to detect antibodies indicating the patient has had COVID-19 or another SARS virus will be quick and efficient.

“I will then follow up via phone or Facetime with the results,” she said. “Patients are spaced 30 minutes apart, will be prescreened, and will need to follow the guidelines when coming into Bella: temperature check upon arrival, mandatory mask, wash hands, no gloves, and minimal conversation.”

Paradisi contracts with Bioreference Laboratories for the virus antibody testing. “There are disclaimers, however, they claim to be 99 percent accurate,” she said.

Paradisi does all consultations and results reading personally via telehealth concierge. Concierge medical services, often known as direct primary care (or DPC), usually include a monthly fee and are more individualized than most primary doctors: no waiting months for an appointment,no waiting room time and a personal consultation regarding lab results.

The medispa was permitted to open before June 5 but chose to wait. “The timing is right now, and we’ll be able to help people learn whether or not they had the coronavirus,” Paradisi said. “People are returning to work and have had company inquiries to test their entire staff before reopening. It’s good to know.”

CDC recommends continued precautions

The CDC says the test may not find antibodies in someone with a current COVID-19 infection. “Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose COVID-19,” the CDC says. “To see if you are currently infected, you need a viral test,” otherwise known as the swab test.

“If you test positive or negative for COVID-19 on a viral or an antibody test, you still should take preventive measures to protect yourself and others,” the CDC says. “We do not know yet if people who recover from COVID-19 can get infected again. Scientists are working to understand this.”

“We’ll be able to help people learn whether or not they had the coronavirus. People are returning to work. It’s good to know.” --Fiorella Paradisi