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Medford man in critical condition at Providence Portland after catching the flu

Now the man's family is warning other to get their flu shots — something that he didn't do before falling ill.

Posted: Jan 9, 2020 5:37 PM
Updated: Jan 9, 2020 5:52 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. — A Medford man is fighting for his life at Providence Hospital in Portland after coming down with the flu over the Christmas holiday. Now his family members want to warn others that getting a flu shot could keep them from a similar fate.

32-year-old Eric Valencia was rushed to the Portland hospital from Medford after being first admitted on Christmas Day. While in the hospital, his condition continued to worsen. In addition to the virulent flu, Valencia came down with pneumonia.

Valencia has been surrounded by family members from the beginning, but they admit that it's been a scary two weeks. Now, Providence says, Valencia's lungs are only functioning with the help of technology known as an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine.

"I'm very thankful because, basically, when we came in here it was like life or death . . . and right now we have hope," said Valencia's mother.

The ECMO machine functions as a lung bypass, taking over breathing function while his lungs work to recover and regain strength, Providence said.

Valencia's family says that he did not get a flu shot this year. They hope that others will hear his story and take it as a warning.

"I see it on television, on the news, and it's like, 'these poor people' . . . but everybody needs to get a flu shot. I don't know how I could stress it more," said Ronnie Valencia, Eric's father.

Valencia remains in critical condition at Providence Portland. Even if all goes well, he is expected to remain in the hospital for the next several weeks.

Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls announced just today that it would add visitor restrictions on Friday in an effort to prevent the spread of the flu. Anyone who is ill or under the age of 18 will not be allowed to visit Emergency patients or those in the inpatient areas of the medical center.

“Our primary responsibilities are to care for acutely ill patients and to ensure the safety of the people who provide that care,” said Annette Cole, RN, chief nursing officer and vice president for Patient Care Services at Sky Lakes. “One of the best ways we can do both is to prevent the spread of germs, and we can help accomplish that by restricting visitors.”

There will be case-by-case exceptions to the restrictions, Cole said.

“The nurse in charge of the shift will be able to make those decisions when the questions arise. In those cases, visitors will be asked to take special precautions to minimize the risk to patients.”

KGW in Portland contributed to this report.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 32820

Reported Deaths: 543
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Multnomah7184138
Marion468394
Washington451960
Umatilla297641
Clackamas240861
Malheur162723
Lane121017
Jackson11485
Deschutes84012
Yamhill75713
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Wallowa311
Sherman180
Harney120
Grant100
Gilliam80
Unassigned00
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California Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 809890

Reported Deaths: 15606
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2678016514
Riverside581781189
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Kern31947369
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Sacramento22269406
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Imperial11835317
San Francisco11143101
Monterey988471
San Mateo9843150
Santa Barbara9061113
Merced8872142
Kings756980
Sonoma7412122
Marin6716118
Solano630963
Madera448165
Placer357745
San Luis Obispo354629
Butte282744
Yolo280355
Santa Cruz23589
Sutter170511
Napa168113
San Benito134511
Yuba11537
El Dorado11274
Mendocino93118
Shasta85617
Lassen7400
Glenn5783
Tehama5605
Lake54911
Nevada5347
Colusa5296
Humboldt5017
Calaveras31714
Amador29616
Tuolumne2274
Inyo18715
Mono1652
Siskiyou1650
Del Norte1391
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc270
Trinity160
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