Covenant Health
This week's reflection

This week's reflection

Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.

Patrick Lencioni

Devastated local family urges people to get the flu shot

October 30, 2014


Watch CTV's news coverage of Lance's story.

Watch Alberta Health Service's video of :Lance's story.

Getting the flu shot was never on Lance McNamara or Kelsey Lindberg’s minds. “I’ve gone over it in my head so many times and I still don’t understand. One day he’s fine and the next day he’s unconscious. It happened so fast. I never, ever would have imagined the flu could cause the amount of damage that it did,” says Kelsey of her fiancé, Lance.

Now, Lance can barely talk or move. After almost losing everything to influenza, they are now determined to share their story to urge people to get the flu vaccine.

“I wish it wouldn’t have taken something like this to make me realize how important it is (to get immunized),” says Kelsey.

Twenty-seven-year-old Lance started to feel ill in December last year. He was admitted to the Misericordia Community Hospital on December 16, 2013, and spent six months in the intensive care unit (ICU).

“He had a severe respiratory infection at that time, and we thought he had a bad pneumonia. A few days later it became apparent it was H1N1 influenza we were dealing with,” says Kim Scherr, Critical Care Nurse Practitioner, ICU.

He developed multiple organ failure and is now a functional quadriplegic. It’s been a devastating, life-altering experience for Lance and his young family.

“This is a prime example of the fact that the flu is a very serious, devastating illness in some people and it can be fatal. It’s not a disease of the elderly. It’s an illness that can affect kids and adults, healthy or not,” says Kim.

Every year, approximately 3,500 Canadians will die of the flu and its complications. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization indicates that the influenza vaccine is the safest and most effective prevention against influenza.

“Lance is living testimony of what the consequences of not getting the flu vaccine can do,” says Gil Monfero, Licensed Practical Nurse who works closely with Lance and has seen firsthand what the illness can do. “I’m a front-line worker taking care of sick people so I have to take care of myself and I get immunized yearly,” says Gil.

Some people choose not to get the flu shot because they are afraid of the side effects, but Kelsey and Lance want people to know that the flu can cause devastating complications.

“I would do almost anything to not see someone else go through this. Seems like it is really easily avoidable, it’s frustrating,” says Kelsey.

Today, Lance continues to recover. He currently works with a speech pathologist using a storyboard and computer to communicate. With Kelsey by his side, they’re motivated to get through this and get back where they left off.

“We still have the same hopes and dreams. I still feel like he can overcome this and I think life will go back to normal,” says Kelsey. Through his speech pathologist, Lance says he hopes that he gets better and dreams to have another child and live a happy life.

Alberta hopes to increase the immunization rate of healthcare workers to 80 per cent from about 55 per cent last year.

The flu vaccine clinics open at Covenant Health locations on Monday, October 6, 2014.

Covenant Health employees who have questions regarding this year’s influenza campaign are asked to call Occupational Health and Safety at 780-342-8070.