Flu bed at Community Health Network helping patients with severe cases

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - With an intense flu season, emergency rooms are packed, and local hospitals are even under restrictions for who can come in.

Some of the cases they're seeing could be deadly. But, Community Health Network has a lifesaving bed to help flu patients.

The Rotoprone bed is most commonly used for severe flu cases. This year, Community Health has already used the device. At one point, four beds were going at once.

"Right before they put me in a coma, I discovered I flat out couldn't breathe. I couldn't take a breath to save my life," Kathleen Vanvelse said.

Kathleen Vanvelse is a walking miracle.

When she came to Community Health South, she was near death. Following several surgeries, she developed acute respiratory distress syndrome. Her oxygen levels were so low the Rotoprone bed was the medical team's final option.

"It's a bed that basically takes the patient, you strap them all the way in, confine them and pad them to the bed completely and it allows the whole bed to turn and rotate and allows the lungs to expand better and to get better oxygenation," ICU Nurse Manager, Tony Reynolds said.

Tony says for patients, especially people with severe flu cases, they may come in too late when their lungs are already severely damaged.

"When they told me that they had to put me in a coma and paralyze me I knew it wasn't a choice and they told me I may or may not wake up so I prayed thy will be done but please I really don't want to die and when I woke up I said thank you," Vanvelse said.

As soon as the rotating bed flipped, Kathleen's her oxygen levels went up.

"I give God a lot of the credit, but we did our part and it was just amazing to see without that bed she wouldn't be standing here today," Reynolds said.

Now, Kathleen comes back to visit the staff that helped her breathe new life and send her home to her family again.

"They kept praying, the staff kept fighting and the bed kept working and I'm here and in really amazing shape and the miracle continues," Vanvelse said.

In those severe cases, the benefits of the Rotoprone bed work best the earlier you use it, so doctors say don’t delay when it comes to getting your symptoms checked out.

The flu is still widespread in Indiana. The state department of health reports there have been 50 influenza related deaths this season.