Michael Hickson was pronounced dead at 46-years-old on June 11 while battling COVID-19 at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center after being denied treatment, hydration and nutrition for nearly a week. Making matters worse, his wife, Melissa Hickson, was not notified until the next morning when his remains had been moved to a funeral home without her permission.
Prior to being infected with the COVID-19 virus, Hickson became a quadriplegic in 2017 after enduring sudden cardiac arrest. Luckily, he had began to regain some of level normalcy in recent months.
“He regained his personality, had memories of past events, loved to do math calculations, and answer trivia questions,” Melissa Hickson said.
While staying in a nursing facility in Texas, Michael Hickson tested positive for the virus on May 15, 2020. At the time, he was asymptomatic. Ten days later, Melissa Hickson was told that he retested and was negative. On June 2, 2020, Michael Hickson was transported to St. David’s South Austin Medical Center because he had an irregular temperature and trouble breathing. Just a day later, he moved to the Intensive Care Unit.
On Friday, June 5, 2020, Melissa Hickson was reportedly told that Michael Hickson was not doing well. As a result, she went to visit him, but says she wasn’t allowed to see him in person. Instead, she talked to him over the phone from the hallway. Melissa Hickson reports that Michael Hickson was responsive throughout the call.
On Saturday, she was told that her husband was stable, breathing on his own and would be moving to hospice care. Shortly thereafter, she spoke to a hospice care representative who told her he would receive nutrition and fluids through a PEG tube. However, another nurse quickly contradicted that statement. In a recorded conversation with the attending physician, Melissa Hickson learned that her husband’s quality of life had declined significantly.
“So as of right now, his quality of life — he doesn’t have much of one,” the unidentified physician said.
“What do you mean? Because he’s paralyzed with a brain injury, he doesn’t have quality of life?” she asked.
“Correct,” the doctor answered.
Melissa Hickson visited the hospital after that call and learned that the father of her children was being held in a room “at the end of the hall, empty and dark with no machines at all for treating him.” After her Saturday visit, she never saw or spoke to her husband again. She spent the entire week attempting to speak with or see Michael before sending an email on Thursday requesting an update on his condition. The hospital did not reply to her email on Thursday, but rather called her the following day to let her know that Michael Hickson had died and that his remains were moved to a funeral home.
“No one has offered condolences. There has never been an apology or acknowledgment of his death. It’s like they just don’t care,” Melissa Hickson said.
“The loss of life is tragic under any circumstances. In Mr. Hickson’s situation, his court-appointed guardian (who was granted decision-making authority in place of his spouse) made the decision in collaboration with the medical team to discontinue invasive care,” a spokesperson for St. David’s South Austin Medical Center said.
At this time, Melissa Hickson has not made funeral arrangements. She is also considering possible legal action.