Remembering Sam McKinney, McKean County Man Lost To COVID-19

Jun 5, 2020

Nancy and Sam McKinney
Credit Nancy McKinney

Sam McKinney, from Kane, died from COVID-19 on May 5th. He’s the only person from McKean County so far to die from the virus. His wife, Nancy, also got sick.

WPSU’s Emily Reddy talked with Adam Bundy, Nancy’s son and Sam McKinney’s step-son.  

TRANSCRIPT 

 

Emily Reddy: 

Thank you for talking with us, and I’m so sorry for your loss.  

 

Adam Bundy:  

Thank you. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

Why don’t you start by telling me a little bit about your step-dad? He and your mom were married for 40 years. Did you grow up with him? What was he like?  

 

Adam Bundy:  

Yeah, no. Sam was great. Yeah, my mom got remarried when I was about 7 and they've been married almost, a little over 40 years. Going on 41 years. And, uh, you know they were great. They loved to get out. They loved to go for walks. We went out into the woods and explored when were younger. It was just a great childhood. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

And do know how they got COVID-19? 

 

Adam Bundy: 

Yes, so they both retired. And my mom was kind of working a couple of days a week to keep herself busy. She was helping out an older lady, and she had aides 24/7. And my mom would spend a couple days a week with her. And one of the aides actually contracted it, but didn't know at the time. And it kind of spread to my mom and the other aides.  

 

Emily Reddy: 

And so where did it progress from there? They both got sick. 

 

Adam Bundy:  

Yeah, so um I think four of the aides got sick. The older lady that they take care of don't really have any symptoms. She was fine. She was 96 years old and no issues. But four other aides got sick. And then my mom got sick. My stepfather got sick. And some of the family members from the other aides got sick.  

 

You know, my mom called me like five days in, and she said she had bronchitis. You know, because small town didn't think it was going to be something there. You know everything was in New York and big cities. In a small town they didn't think anything. She had bronchitis, she thought. Um, but on day seven she lost her sense of smell.  

 

And that's when I got really serious with her, my sister and I. We told her to go the hospital get checked. And you know again being a small town there was no test. And she was very very sick by this point. And you know the closest place to get the test was 2 1/2 hour drive. And she was just too sick to be in the car for five hours.  

 

And so on day eight they want ahead and got a chest X-ray, in which they found her lungs kind of filling up. So they did a CT scan and noticed that her lungs were almost full of like pneumonia-like stuff. And they admitted her to the ER and put her in the ICU. She was able to tolerate with just oxygen.  

And I think the key point is my stepfather didn't go in until day 14 of his virus, you know number of days sick. And so he was a lot worse. And you know he ended up on a ventilator 24 hours after he got to the hospital.  

 

Emily Reddy: 

And then how long was he on that ventilator?  

 

Adam Bundy: 

So, for three weeks. Twenty or 21 days. And it was just unbelievably heart-wrenching. And, you know, there would be good days and bad days. But the family couldn't be there. But the nurses and doctors, I can't say enough... I mean they're just phenomenal. They became part of our family.  

 

Emily Reddy: 

And then, what happened at the end? 

 

Adam Bundy:  

The end was pretty sad. Probably about four days before the end he started kind of going downhill. They asked us if we wanted to make sure he would be resuscitated, at the time and all that. We still said “yes” on day 16. But day 17 to 18, he started getting worse. We had another call with the doctors, you know, and they said his condition is pretty bad. He probably would never fully recover, and he would probably be in a vegetative state. On day 20 he took a bad hit and then the next morning he kind of went down even further. And so the decision was made to remove the breathing tube. And that was probably the hardest day. But the amazing thing here was the nurses and doctors stood up for us. I had a nurse that said she would be there with Sam. Lyndsay was the nurse. She would be there with Sam, holding his hand throughout the whole process. So that was at like 9 in the morning, and then we called the family. The family was able to call and talk to Sam. You know, they’d hold up the phone to his ear and say their goodbyes. And then at one o'clock they removed it and within about 7 minutes he passed. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

Now your mom referred us to talk to you about this instead of talking to us herself. You know, how is she doing? 

 

Adam Bundy: 

She's probably, I wanna say 50 days out now. And it took at least until day 28, 29 for her just to even start feeling better. And I’d say as of two weeks ago she's taken that turn as far as fully recovered, except for two things. One, she does not dream. She has always been a big dreamer, and she has not had any dreams since the virus hit. And then, two, she still can't smell. She says it's coming back faintly, as of yesterday. But she has really no sense of taste or smell. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

Wow, interesting.  

 

Adam Bundy:  

Yeah, it's very interesting. And then the whole thing with my stepfather, we’re unable to have a funeral. So you know we did have him cremated, and my mom has the ashes now. And then probably in about a month or so we will have a kind of a celebration for him with the family when everybody can get together and celebrate Sam's life. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

That's gotta be hard, not to be able to have the funeral. 

 

Adam Bundy: 

Yes, it’s terrible. And I still, you know, I'm in New York and, you know, it's been hit hard here. And I still have not got home to see my mom. She doesn't want me to travel through until things are cleared up. This has been the hardest thing is we couldn’t have a funeral, couldn’t be at the hospital, can't hug anybody. And I don't want any other family to go through this. This is absolutely hell. 

 

Emily Reddy: 

And McKean County and others nearby are now in the “green” stage. You know, after your family’s experience what would you say to the people living in those areas now that they are allowed to go out and interact more? 

 

Adam Bundy: 

I would say, you know, the biggest thing, I think, people think this is done. I have so many friends back there that say, “Oh, we don't wear masks. We don't we worry about it.” And I'm saying, “We gotta move on with our lives, but we have to do it smart.” You know, still wear those masks because you're protecting other people. And you know kind of socially distance. So, I mean, you still can have conversations, but do it smart. Do it very, very smart. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands. And I just think people think this is by us now. And I'm just worried that this, you know, the next wave is coming. And people are just going to be in trouble.  

 

Emily Reddy: 

Adam Bundy, thanks for talking with us, and I'm so sorry for your loss. 

 

Adam Bundy:  

Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.