Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2018  Vol. 17 No. 2
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Grippe Crisis Is Reached; Should Ebb From Now On
October 15, 1918

John Marshall Emergency Hospital Chart Shows Situation Decidedly Encouraging

Worst Cases Are Recovering

Lecky’s Forces Prepare Baker School for Colored Patients and Y.M.H.A. Building for Convalescents

School Forces Render Much Aid

The crisis in the influenza epidemic, so far as Richmond is concerned generally and the emergency hospital in particular, has already been reached and safely passed, according to the official chart in Dr. E.C.L. Miller’s office at the hospital, which shows Thursday to have been the day on which the fatal line marked its highest point. Since then it has dropped steadily downward, and the entire hospital has been permeated with the cheerful information that the “flu” forces were in full retreat.

The Baker School will be opened as an emergency hospital this morning for colored patients ill with influenza. R.E. Lecky, chairman of extension, and his volunteer force of workers did an enormous work yesterday getting the Baker School ready to open this morning. The heating and plumbing arrangements of the building had to be overhauled to a certain extent and gas mains looked after. Mr. Lecky has also perfected arrangements for the opening of the Y.M.H.A., just across from John Marshall, as a convalescent ward, to which [patients] will be moved this morning.

Most Seriously Ill Patients Now on Road to Recovery
Of the dozen very ill patients in the pneumonia ward, seven were free from fever yesterday, which the physicians thought most encouraging. Dr. Miller states that they have lost a very small percentage of their pneumonia cases in the hospital. There are now 422 cases of influenza and pneumonia in the hospital.

Of this number, twenty-one had been brought in yesterday before 5 o’clock, the smallest number for several days. There were four deaths yesterday—Mrs. Bessie Bottoms, 1407 Semmes Avenue; Tom Wolfe, Withrow, Wis.; Mrs. Marie Ogle, 1118 West Marshall Street, and Miss Grace Southall, 2302 Venable Street. According to Dr. Miller’s records, there have been only fourteen deaths previous to yesterday, which brings the total up to but eighteen.

The breathing spell given the medical staff by the lessening of the hold of the epidemic allowed the physicians for the first time since the organization of the hospital to answer outside calls for help. One of these was from a troop-train held at the Main Street Station, and the other was an out-of-town call for an investigation of conditions in Hopewell, where the “flu” was reported to be taking a death toll of 50 per cent of the cases.

Dr. Stuart Michaux, chief of the medical staff of the hospital, and Dr. Robert Bryan immediately went to Hopewell in a car to make a survey of the influenza situation. The troops were found to be suffering more from panic than influenza on board.

Sister Dead, Brother Sick, But He Stays On The Job
The spirit of the volunteer workers is beautifully shown in the instance of one of the employees of the telephone company, an electrician, who has been busy installing the thirty phones and ten trunk lines. “I had a wire yesterday from North Carolina saying my sister had just died of influenza,” he told Dr. Miller, “and that my brother-in-law was very sick. I couldn’t do anything if I went down there, and I can do something for people who are sick here in the city, so I have just stayed on the job.”

The school force from Acting Superintendent Hill down to the office boy in the administration building has been in the thick of the fight against influenza since the very day that the schools were closed, beginning with the teachers on the South Side. Every teacher who has not been ill has been busy all the time.

The city was at once districted by the school people, following the order closing the schools, and the teachers of each school resolved into a visiting committee for that special district. Families were visited, first-aid given and serious cases reported. The City School Board car has not gone a block since the schools were closed except on emergency calls in influenza cases, and F.G. Spear, of the John Marshall High School faculty, has been acting as chauffeur of the car.

Teachers Volunteer To Stem Malady’s Tide
“The teachers in all the departments have volunteered in large numbers to aid in stemming the epidemic that is now upon us,” said Mr. Hill yesterday. “The entire medical corps, including the nurses, is busy day and night. The manual training force has turned out over 200 bedside tablets for the John Marshall hospital, and is still at work for it. The school clerks are working overtime in the offices at the John Marshall [hospital]. The principals and teachers have volunteered in large numbers for the work at the hospital, in Dr. Flannagan’s office or have organized regular visiting committees to look out for their own districts, and they have found many families who were in dire distress, and have frequently had them removed, and promptly, to the emergency hospital.

“The domestic science department is preparing all of the food used at the hospital. The mechanical force is busily arranging buildings as they are needed for this emergency. There is willingness on the part of all connected with the city schools to do everything in their power to aid the community at this time. At a later date we hope to secure an honor list showing just who has been helping and in what capacity.”  

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