Breaking News
More () »

Local couple reunited after COVID-19 restrictions eased in Ohio assisted living homes

Married for 64 years, but separated since March by lock down, the Lovejoys live up to their name.

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — It’s a love story three months in the making, but produced over 64 years in time.

And, naturally, the couple’s name is Lovejoy.

Together, they raised four children in Northeast Ohio. Inseparable, until a global pandemic tore them apart in March.

“Been my girlfriend a long time,” Denver Lovejoy said. “Only one I ever had.”

On Monday, the love-struck couple finally embraced.

“It’s probably been worse on me than it has been on him,” said Bertie Lovejoy.

Her husband, Denver, has dementia. It’s why he’s living at Kemper House in Strongsville. In early March, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread worldwide, Ohio’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities went into lockdown. The elderly are among the hardest hit demographics.

As a result, in-person visitations ended. Phone calls replaced hugs.

On May 28, Gov. Mike DeWine announced the state was easing restrictions at assisted living facilities and intermediate care centers, allowing outdoor-only visits. Monday was the first day families could visit.

 Nursing homes, where the sickest patients live, and where a majority of deaths have taken place, remain under tight restrictions with no end in sight.

Assisted living facilities are still required to follow many mandates to ensure the virus remains at bay.

Visitations are limited, temperature checks are required, and residents and families are appraised of the risks. Masks are required and other restrictions may be put in place at the discretion of the facility.

According to the governor’s press office: The decision was made while considering requests from families and residents and considering the impact on the quality of life a prolonged loss of connection can have on an individual.

“We will continue to examine, monitor, and adjust as we carefully and thoughtfully lift restrictions on visitation," said DeWine. "The well-being of our residents has been, and remains, central to our decision-making.”

For Bertie Lovejoy, the 30-minute visit was memorable and sealed with a kiss.

“It’s good. It’s when you can’t be together makes it more difficult,” she said.

More from Rachel Polansky and Phil Trexler:

Before You Leave, Check This Out