TAMPA, Fla. – Loved ones and the community remember a nurse and nurse in Tampa who died after struggling with COVID-19 before Thanksgiving.
Steven Neher was 49 years old and was working as a nurse at Falkenburg Road Jail in the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.
Neher’s family, also a flight nurse and registered nurse at Tampa General Hospital, says he proudly risked his life every day to treat COVID-19 patients. But on Tuesday, he lost his own life due to the virus.
Steven Neher, Courtesy Family
His death comes as a surprise to friends and family who say he was healthy, without underlying conditions, but after a few weeks of fighting the virus, his condition quickly worsened.
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“He’s funny and he just makes everyone laugh and makes everyone feel welcome whether he knows you or not,” said Neher’s aunt, Elizabeth Alesafar.
Neher’s ten-year-old partner, Christian Riddell, says Steven tested positive for COVID-19 on November 25. A week and a half later, his oxygen levels dropped.
“He was just passionate about health care and helping people and saving their lives when they really needed it,” Riddell said. “He had oxygen with him and I slept on the floor just to make sure he was okay, and then he tried in the morning to find out which hospital had the best treatment.”
Neher was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 5. Days later, he was placed in a ventilator in the intensive care unit. More than three weeks later, he lost his battle with COVID-19.
“We had no conditions. No asthma. Nothing that was wrong with us. We’re working out. We’m still pretty young. There’s no reason he should have died,” Riddell said.
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Neher devoted his life to caring for others. Before working as a nurse at the Falkenburg Road Jail, he was a nurse at TGH and also spent years as a flight nurse, where he taught courses to other nurses.
When he was not working, Riddell says Neher touched the lives of his many friends and family members.
“It’s amazing how many people loved him and he’s just gone too soon,” Riddell said.
Riddell says he and Neher took all the precautions, wore masks and socially distanced themselves. They believe he may have contracted the virus while working in prison.
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