Local nurse gets a hero’s welcome after three weeks helping Covid-19 patients in Detroit
–By Reporter Ruth Ann Angus
How do you welcome a hero home during a pandemic? That was the problem friends of Olivia Lovejoy of Atascadero faced Friday as they expected her home from her three weeks away nursing Covid-19 patients in Detroit. With restrictions in place, friends donned face masks and drove their cars to the airport entrance, and waited for her returning flight at noon.
Lovejoy, who is a nurse at Tenet Health’s Sierra Vista Hospital replied “yes” when a Tenet Health hospital in Detroit, Michigan asked for help. The transfer was approved so Lovejoy went home and asked her husband Jacob Lovejoy what he thought. “In our marriage vows I agreed to never stand in your way,” he replied.
Jacob, who is a chef and owner of love.joy.eat, a catering business was facing his own problems with the complete shut-down of his business due to the pandemic. However, he pitched right in and became a stay-at-home dad taking care of the couple’s two young girls, ages five and two.
Jeffry Wiesinger, owner of Jeffry’s Wine Country BBQ in Paso Robles, and friend of the Lovejoys told the story: “Olivia is the mother of three girls,” he said, “and she felt strongly about doing this.”
The Lovejoys live in Atascadero and the community took Lovejoy’s sacrifice to heart. They made sure Jacob and the girls were taken good care of, delivering meals to them. A sign that graced the lawn at their home said, “Heroes Live Here!”
Olivia Lovejoy studied nursing at Cuesta College and then attended Cal Poly University. It was Olivia’s dedication to her profession and to caring for the sick of her community that prompted her to volunteer for this dangerous mission. In Olivia’s mind this caring extends beyond the Central Coast to reach anywhere there is a need and that need presented itself in Detroit. Despite leaving behind her husband and daughters and the difficulties that would follow, she knew she was called to do this.
Lovejoy’s friends kept up with her posting comments on Facebook. One posted on Sunday asked when she is coming home. “I fly home Friday,” she posted, “This has been an important experience, but I miss my people. Can’t wait to be home.” It was then that friends decided they had to arrive at the airport to welcome her home.
Lovejoy plans to be tested immediately to see if she has been exposed to the virus, and she will be in quarantine at home. Wiesinger said this is a typical procedure with the pandemic and hopes that this will dispel any fear there might be about Lovejoy bringing the disease home.
“Lovejoy didn’t do it for notoriety,” he said. “She is an amazing hero, fulfilling her calling despite the sacrifice.”
As Olivia came through the terminal at San Luis Obispo Airport her friends were there, cheering for a true hero. She saw everyone and a joyful surprise lit her face. “Welcome Home Olivia!”