La Conner artist Jay Bowen is an avid distance runner, often seen training in the local area. He ran a half-marathon in early November, five years after suffering a heart attack. 

But it is Bowen’s daughter, registered nurse Laho Zachmeyer, who has logged the most miles in the family this year. 

Zachmeyer, 35, has traveled to New York and Texas to provide extended relief at hospital COVID-19 units whose staffing has been pushed to the limit by spread of the virus. 

She spent four weeks in New York and three months in Texas and continues to receive pleas to pack her gear and provide aid in pandemic hot spots around the country. 

The intense nature of the experience has made it difficult for Zachmeyer to share her thoughts with the media, though she agreed to a written interview with the Weekly News. 

“When I originally started working on it,” she wrote in response to the series of questions posed to her, “I was having a hard time writing about it because it almost made me feel guilty for being home and not helping still.” 

By all accounts, given repeated requests for her services, that help has been invaluable. 

Zachmeyer, who resides in Burlington with husband Brandon and the couple’s two children, visited with her family on FaceTime while working in distant hospitals. 

Her son, Bentley, circled dates on a calendar marking her expected returns home. 

“I had to explain that I was still helping people who really needed me,” Zachmeyer said, “and that they are thanking him so much for sharing his mom.” 

She was not home long from New York, which was hard hit by the virus last spring, when Zachmeyer was summoned to Texas from her position at Little Mountain Laser in Mount Vernon. 

The Lone Star State saw a doubling of its COVID-19 case and death rates in July. 

Zachmeyer didn’t hesitate to answer the call. 

“I was so honored that I was able to help again,” she said. “I held countless hands of loved ones and I would do it all again so that no one has to be alone. I worked with some amazing nurses and made friendships that will last a lifetime.” 

Those friendships are rooted in mutual admiration. 

“These nurses were the heartbeat of these COVID units,” Zachmeyer said, “and because of the skills we all brought to the table, we were able to finish the job there.” 

It is a job like no other, she insisted, and one that exacts a serious emotional toll. 

“I have seen some things that I pray no one else has to,” said Zachmeyer. “I’ve had to share the worst news with families and each time my heart breaks for them.” 

“This journey has been so humbling,” she added. “I have grown as a nurse and a person.”