Number of flu cases on the rise in Oregon, special team helping - KPTV - FOX 12

Number of flu cases on the rise in Oregon, special team helping critical patients

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Source: Salem Health Source: Salem Health
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Oregonians may have received the emails in their inbox or calls from their boss in the last few days saying some of their co-workers are out sick with the flu.

The number of cases are on the rise in Oregon, and doctors are warning this is shaping up to be a pretty bad flu season.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, between Dec. 17 and Dec. 23, 123 people were hospitalized with the flu.

Since Oct. 1, more than 3,600 cases of the virus have been confirmed. 

Doctors at Legacy Emanuel in Portland are seeing those numbers first hand. Dr. Jon Hill says they have been busy. He's compared this year to 2009 when they were dealing with the H1N1 virus.

"This season appears to be on par with that," Dr. Hill said. "The intensive care units have been full at all the Legacy hospitals."

One of the tools Legacy Emanuel has is known as the ECMO Team. They travel all over the state with specialized equipment to help stabilize the patient so they can be transported to Portland for treatment.

"It feels amazing to give that to a family to bring this type of therapy when we can help people," ECMO Nurse Dian Braxmeyer Downey said. 

She is one of the those called upon to head out. She showed FOX 12 the ECMO machine they use when they travel to patients.

"This device is going to take all the blood out put the oxygen in it and take the CO2 away so the same thing your lung does," Braxmeyer Downey explained. 

That allows the the lungs to better fight the infection and heal.

One of the patients thankful for this piece of machinery, an electrician from the Eugene area. 

David Hill went the hospital in late November with a high fever and symptoms of the flu. The virus would take it's toll on his body.

"Going from being a healthy guy to barely being able to stand in a month because of the flu it just kind of blows your mind," David Hill said.

After more than a month in the hospital, David was released Thursday. He has an 18-day stint on the ECMO machine to thank for helping him get better. 

His father-in-law, Jerry Cantrell, says this moment is one they have been waiting for and are now encouraging other people to get a flu shot and protect themselves against the virus at all costs.

"We've realized that possibly a simple flu shot could have been the difference between him laying in that bed and home and healthy," Catrell said. "It takes it to a whole other level."

Doctors say there is still enough time to get that flu shot. They say it takes about six weeks for it to really be effective.

Health officials say Oregonians typically see a spike in flu cases in January and then again in March and April.

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