Spotsylvania County woman on life support after contracting flu

Hope McFarland (front, with mom Ann Mccord) is 45, but looks like a teen, relatives say. (Photo Credit:

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A Spotsylvania County woman with the flu is on life support at VCU Medical Center, according to her family.

Brenda Arthur told that her niece, Hope Mccord McFarland, 45, has been hospitalized since Jan. 16.

“She cannot breathe on her own, it’s bad,” Arthur said. “This is so horrible.”

Arthur said her niece went to a local doctor twice who told her she had a cold and sent her home. But as she continued coughing, her condition worsened.

McFarland went to the emergency room at Mary Washington Hospital on Jan. 16 and was flown to VCU Medical Center in Richmond three days later, where she is now in serious condition.

Arthur said medical officials told her that McFarland had coughed so hard that she burst the capillaries in her lungs.

“She’s in a medically induced coma because she’s so sick,” Arthur said. “They said her lungs are just…they’re in bad shape.”

McFarland’s case comes after a 7-year-old boy in Hurt, Virginia died over the weekend after contracting the flu and strep throat.

The Associated Press reported that 1 in 15 doctor visits last week were for symptoms of the flu. That’s the highest level since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

Thirty-nine states reported high flu traffic last week, up from 32 the week before.

All hospitals in the metro Richmond area are even changing visitation policies as the area deals with one of the worst flu seasons in years.

VCU Health Systems announced Tuesday that all hospitals and health systems within the Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition will update their visitation guidelines. The changes are being made in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health.

Under the new guidelines, only healthy adults will be able to visit the impacted hospitals, and only two adults will be able to visit a patient at a time.

The impacted facilities include VCU Health System facilities, Bon Secours, HCA Virginia, Southside Regional Medical Center, Centra Southside Community Hospital and Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center.

Signs will be posted with the new guidelines at all of the impacted facilities.

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