Virginia Woman in Intensive Care With Pneumonia After Doctor Twice Sent Her Home With Flu Symptoms: Family

A Virginia woman is in intensive care with pneumonia after twice going to the doctor with flu symptoms and being sent home, her family said.

Hope McCord McFarland, 45, of Spotsylvania County made those trips to the doctor earlier this month. Then, on Jan. 16, she went to her mother in the middle of the night in the home they share saying she couldn’t breathe and needed an ambulance.

“She went straight downhill so fast,” said her aunt, Patty Arthur. “It was unbelievable.”

McFarland’s symptoms were so bad, she was flown to VCU Medical Center in Richmond two days later.

She's on a ventilator, dialysis and many other live-saving machines after her initially undiagnosed flu became pneumonia, leaving her unable to breathe.

“When you walk into the room and you see your baby not be able to breathe on her own … and not be able to move a muscle because of the paralytic drug, it's something no mom should ever have to see,” Ann McCord said.

McCord and Arthur take turns at McFarland’s bedside. Her son, Danny, isn't visiting because he has a cough and it's a lot for a 10-year-old boy to handle.

“I just talk to her and tell her about people asking about her, tell her how much she's loved by me and her son here,” McCord said.

McFarland didn’t get a flu shot. Her family wants others who’ve skipped the vaccine to go get it.

“I want people to understand that the flu shot saves lives,” McCord said crying. “If you get the flu shot, you won’t be living the nightmare I'm living now.”

Rappahannock Area Health District Director Dr. Brooke Rossheim stressed it's not too late to get the shot, and if it doesn't fully protect against the flue, it can make a big difference for those who do catch it.

“A person who is not vaccinated who gets really sick may end up in the hospital,” Rossheim said. “That person with a vaccine may just end up at home.”

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