BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Chris Tribuna and his annual “Christmas Spectacular” yard display on Shadow Lane in Berkeley Heights has helped mold the way that local Atlantic Health is conducting drive-through COVID-19 testing.
Back in March, in the “early days” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Valerie Simon, a fellow Berkeley Heights resident and Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantic Health System watched as the first patient went through the new COVID-19 test site. “It felt awfully scary to me. Any time I have ever had a medical procedure done, the nurse or doctor talked me through it. This new process, which had minimal communication for the safety of all, felt terrifying. Someone needed to talk to these patients. Explain what was happening and give them assurance,” explained Simon. “I recalled our favorite Christmas house in Berkeley Heights... you know the one, each year it is posted right here on the Berkeley Heights Community Forum...where you drive up and tune into a radio frequency and you hear a narration and music. So I searched and found Chris. I reached out to ask him if he could help me figure out what we needed to do,” said Simon.
Within the hour, Tribuna had located the equipment at his home and arrived at the Atlantic Health off-site testing site in Morristown to show the team how to set it up. “When Valerie reached out to me I was a little caught off guard at the ask, but I immediately went into the attic to search for the device that she was looking for. It was my small way of helping the community and making the testing process less scary for those driving through,” explained Tribuna. By the next morning, everyone who had to go through the testing site had a narrated tour explaining what to expect. At the time, approximately 400 cases of COVID-19 had been reported across the state and less than 200,000 worldwide. The state has since reported 143K confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey and more than 4 million cases worldwide. Tribuna’s knowledge, fast action and community spirit took the inspiration of his annual holiday display on Shadow Lane and made a true difference in the experience of the more than 5,500 patients who have been tested at the Atlantic Health site to date. His work also inspired other testing sites as they prepped and opened for testing. Simon said, “many have visited for walk throughs to observe and replicate our processes, and we have provided them as needed advice going forward”.
“Chris is a tremendous example of one of the quiet, unsung heroes who has made a real impact throughout this pandemic. His ingenuity, quick action and deep commitment to our community defines the spirit of our town. The people of Berkeley Heights have redefined the concept of “community”, taking meaningful action to support our frontline health care heroes. Whether it is groups like FLAG of Berkeley Heights or individuals making masks, providing food, equipment, homemade cards and signs, or making financial donations, this support has given inspiration and resiliency to those on the frontlines. Thanks in large part to Chris and individuals like him throughout Berkeley Heights, the team at our hospitals have been able to stay strong throughout this war against COVID, shouldering an unfathomable crisis with Herculean strength, assuring that all in our communities have access to the very best care,” said Simon.
“Christmas display at my home was my way to give back to Berkeley Heights for supporting my company and to help spread some joy during the holiday season. Fortunately and unfortunately my business has grown so much that I was unable to do the display last year, but I am very thankful that we have been so busy. There is no future in sight for the light display, but I will update Berkeley Heights if that changes,” said Tribuna about his annual light display. Tribuna owns Balloon Design Studio, Inc. which operates out of a warehouse space on Snyder Avenue.