BOISE, Idaho — Friends and family continue to grieve the loss of Samantha Hickey - a mom, wife, friend and medical frontline hero.
Hickey, a nurse practitioner for St. Luke’s in Caldwell, lost her life last week due to complications from COVID-19. She was 45 and one of the youngest people to die from coronavirus in Idaho.
Her family and one of her co-workers don’t want her death to be in vain. Instead, they want people to see her death as a lesson that people need to do what they can to protect themselves and take the virus seriously.
“Love her dearly and certainly there is a large void in our family,” Samantha Hickey’s husband, Robb, said.
He and Samantha’s sister talked with reporters on Tuesday about who Samantha Hickey was a family member and colleague.
'I probably have this virus'
“She was an extraordinary mother, her children were her life,” Rachel Seaman, her sister, said. “She cared a great deal about pediatrics.”
Robb Hickey talked about the traits that made his wife so great.
“She was fierce, a lifelong learner,” he said. “She cared deeply about her community and patients and family and friends and pretty much didn't know a stranger.”
Samantha Hickey first started showing symptoms of the virus two weeks ago. Her husband said it was like any other morning though; she was feeling good and not showing any symptoms, so she went to work.
“Kissed me on the way out the door, we said our 'I love you’s' and 'have a great day' and 'I’ll see you when you get home' and everything went off without a hitch,” Robb Hickey said. “Later that day she came home early from work feeling like, as she put it, a freight train hit her. She was exhausted. Her joints were painful, and she said, 'I’m just sick and I probably have this virus.'”
She was tested for COVID-19 and it came back positive. Her husband said she didn't have a fever or shortness of breath but did have a cough and felt fatigued.
Within a week of Samantha Hickey first showing symptoms, she said she needed to go to the hospital because she was feeling dehydrated. However, things got worse once she got to the hospital. Her husband told KTVB she had a heart attack due to the virus affecting the muscle of her heart.
“The virus had set up shop in the muscle of her heart, myocarditis, it just attacked the muscles and the cell of the muscles until it became an ineffective pump and she couldn't get past that,” Robb Hickey said.
Her family said she was healthy with no pre-existing conditions.
“Had no risk factors associated with the folks we're seeing that have the highest risk and co-factors associated with bad outcomes to this disease and virus,” Robb Hickey said.
'Follow the guidance. Socially distance and wear a mask, just wear a mask'
Samantha Hickey's death leaves a void not only with her family but also with her co-workers, like Crystal Belcourt, who is also a nurse practitioner.
“There is nothing that I wouldn't do to prevent what happened to Sam,” she said. “I think every person who lost someone feels that same way.”
Now, both the family and her co-workers want to remind people this virus is real, and it should be taken seriously.
“I think people get lost in the numbers or in the yin and yang of the political environment we have right now and it's not about that," Belcourt said.
Belcourt told KTVB that Samantha Hickey was a light in their clinic and to the families that came in.
“The patients sought her out, she was trustworthy," she said. "Someone they knew would tell it like it is."
Samantha's family has one wish for other people, so they don’t go through the pain they’ve experienced.
“If you're not going to stay home, you have you know, our life goes on. We have things we have to do, and I get that,” Robb Hickey said. “Follow the guidance. Socially distance and wear a mask, just wear a mask.”
If someone wishes to honor the memory of Samantha Hickey, her family asks that people donate money to the St. Luke's Health Foundation. A spokesperson for the hospital told KTVB the donations will create a scholarship fund to help future nurses.
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