Nurse practitioner for Hillsborough County jail dies from COVID-19

Loved ones and the community are remembering a Tampa flight nurse and nurse practitioner who died after battling COVID-19 since before Thanksgiving.

Steven Neher was 49-years-old and was working as a nurse practitioner at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office's Falkenburg Road Jail when he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Also a flight nurse and registered nurse at Tampa General Hospital, Neher's family says he proudly risked his life every day to treat COVID-19 patients. But 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, with no underlying conditions, but after a few weeks of battling the virus, his condition quickly worsened.

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"He's funny and he just makes everyone laugh and make everybody feel welcome whether he knows you or not," Neher's aunt, Elizabeth Alesafar said.

Neher's partner of 10 years, Christian Riddell says Steven tested positive for COVID-19 back on November 25. A week and a half later, his oxygen levels dropped.

"He was just passionate about healthcare and helping people and saving their lives when they really, really needed it bad," Riddell said. "He had oxygen with him and I slept on the floor right next to it just to make sure he would be OK and then in the morning he was trying to search which hospital had the best treatment."

Neher was admitted to the hospital on December 5. Days later, he was placed on 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 work out. We're still fairly young. There's no reason that he should have passed away," Riddell said.

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Neher dedicated his life to caring for others. Prior to working as a nurse practitioner at the Falkenburg Road Jail, he was a nurse at TGH and also spent several years as a flight nurse, where he taught courses to other nurses in-training.

When he wasn't working, Riddell says Neher was touching the lives of his many friends and family members.

"It's just unbelievable 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. They believe he may have contracted the virus while working at the jail.

LINK: COVID-19 vaccine distribution information in Tampa Bay area counties

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

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