Medical College of Virginia Base No. 45 Hospital newspaper, 5 November 1917
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2 MEDICAL COLLEGE OF VIRGINIA, BASE HOSPITAL, No. 45
ENLISTED MEN READY
The enlisted personnel consists of 153 men and it will be a source of satisfaction to the staff to know that in point of education and general qualifications this division of the hospital force will yield nothing to any unit in existence. In fact, we believe the character of the enlisted men will contribute a unique distinction to the base hospital. Selections have been made with great care and with no other consideration than the best interests of the institution. The recruiting was done by Major J. Garnett Nelson whose labors were much lightened by the fact that five-sixths of the men had already been examined and enrolled.
Classification of Personnel
As the routine administrative work will fall upon the enlisted personnel it is interesting to inspect the composition of this company. In the list are engineers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, telegraphers, telephone operators, barbers, mechanics of various sorts, chauffeurs, stenographers, accountants, clerks, laundry men, photographers, painters, cooks, butchers, bakers, jacks of all trades, and others. In addition, there are various heads of divisions and finally a large group, constituting nearly one-half of the whole, assigned to duty as ward attendants. Among the latter a premium has been put on intelligence and discretion as circumstances may at times necessitate the temporary delegation of considerable responsibility to the orderlies. In this group are included a number of pharmacists, lawyers, and others holding responsible positions. The large majority are men who have attended various colleges, including Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Military Institute, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Washington and Lee University, University of Virginia, William and Mary College, Richmond College, Randolph-Macon College, Emory and Henry College, University of North Carolina and others. A classification of the personnel with reference to numerous possibilities was attempted and the result was interesting. Sufficient material will be at hand for the organization of two or more excellent football and baseball teams. Other sports indoor and outdoor are well covered. A glee-club can easily be organized by reference to a card index, and a polyglot band composed of Jew's harps, drums, and horns and various stringed instruments. Expert linguists in French, German, Spanish and Italian are present with a smattering of Hebrew, and a large number who profess to be able to speak English. An optician will be on hand to mend glasses, and fountain pens, and watches have not been overlooked. Any automobile complications known to man can be handled, including vulcanizing of tires. Three of the best barbers in Richmond have been secured. A young engineer who planned the location and sanitary surroundings of the great hospital at Camp Lee will be in charge of the grounds. A licensed undertaker and embalmer will preside in the morgue. The cook is head chef at a large hotel. The manager of the garage is a son of Thomas F. Ryan, of New York, who has owned and operated two automobile establishments. If there is room for a garden a horticulturist and a scientific farm demonstrator are at hand to say nothing of the assistant in plant pathology from a prominent college. Capt. Erasmus G Hopkins sleeps in peace because the pharmacist who has been making up his solutions for the past year goes with us, together with a young man from the Virginia-Carolina Chemical laboratory.
Question of Training The vital need of recreation has been constantly in mind. A modest gymnasium has been planned with a Y.M.C.A. man in charge. For outdoor sports there will be the secretary of the company owning the Richmond baseball club; this man is an accomplished baseball and football coach. Incidentally it is interesting to note that a member of the unit has just been elected captain of the Richmond College football team. Definite steps have now been taken to equip a reading room with suitable books and periodicals; the cataloguer of the Virginia State Library will be in charge here. Finally a fleet of Victrolas will be engaged for the entertainment of patients and personnel. Quite a number of the men have had brief or considerable military training in college or militia. The importance of additional training has been constantly emphasized. Between 60 and 70 members of the personnel reside in Richmond, and these have bee organized into a company under skillful drill-masters. Twice a week drills are held in the Howitzers Armory. The out-of-Richmond men are scattered over Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, These have been encouraged to attach themselves temporarily to local commands for the next four months and many have already done this. As a final rounding off touch assurance has been obtained from Washington that the entire personnel will be sent to a camp, such as Fort Oglethorpe, for a six - weeks' or month's training just before the departure for Europe. The question of medical training for the men has not yet been approached in detail. Certain general plans are now under consideration and an effort will be made to get these into practical operation within a short time. JOSEPH F. GEISINGER.
Some of our embers will be a little surprised to learn that we are planning for recreation and pleasure, but it is the purpose of the unit to relieve suffering and brighten the injured soldier while he is within our circle. Therefore, we must be happy, cheerful, energetic and full of life, from the word "go". In order to do this we must keep our bodies in the best physical trim. For this purpose, the unit is carrying along a fully equipped gymnasium outfit providing for calisthenic classes, indoor baseball, volley ball, basketball, hand ball, gymnasium polo and other very interesting and beneficial games. While the unit provides all of the necessary equipment for this work, we feel that each member should provide his own clothing. This amounts to very little and will insure you of gymnasium outfits promptly, while if the unit furnishes them, you might be delayed in receiving them. Each man should take two gymnasium shirts, two pairs of trunks and one pair of gymnasium shoes; each lady should take two pairs of bloomers, two blouses, two pairs of hose, and one pair of gymnasium shoes. These outfits can be secured from any sporting goods house, at a cost of about $3.00 each.
COLLECTION OF SUPPLIES
The task of equipping the base hospital has developed gigantic proportions. In ordinary circumstances this burden would fall upon the government and the local Red Cross agencies would be expected to do no more than stand sponsor for the organization and furnish it with certain expendable supplies, such as surgical dressings. In the present emergency, however, the government is unable to assume the responsibility; this inability is less concerned with the item of money, of which there appears to be an abundance, than the item of purchasable material, of which there appears to be a great scarcity. Several weeks ago, therefore, every base hospital in the United States was notified by Red Cross headquarters that it must either raise $40,000 and secure its own equipment or else gace an indefinite postponement of its assignment to active duty in the field. The situation was submitted to the local Red Cross chapter and the sum of $40,000 was at once appropriated.
Appropriation of $140,000 Shortly after this a committee, headed by the purchasing agent, visited New York on a tour of inspection to determine the most advantageous means of disposing of this $40,000. It not only did this, but also determined means of disposing of considerably more. In short, a detailed scrutiny of two exhibition base hospitals, together with consultation of various authorities in New York, Washington and elsewhere, quickly established the fact that the original estimates were too low. The local Red Cross chapter was again approached and with characteristic spontaneity it responded with an appropriation of $100,000, making a total of $140,000. With this generous support the purchasing agent began his work. It is fortunate that this vital and laborious task fell into the capable hands of Mr. Richard Gwathmey. With the cordial co-operation of Mr. Coleman Wortham, head of the local Red Cross activities, and various business associates, Mr. Gwathmey was able to get at his job without delay. Members of the base hospital staff also rallied around him and he is now the center of a radiating network of committees and lieutenants, chiefly in Richmond, but, as a matter of fact, extending all the way from New York to Fort Oglethorpe. One committee presides over the selection of all instruments and is particularly charged to prevent wastage by duplication; the same is true for the drugs, for operating furniture, for laboratory and X-Ray equipment; for kitchen, ice plant, automobiles, library, tradesmen's outfits, recreation, ward furniture, quarters for staff, nurses and male personnel, laundry, and what not. It must be recalled that with the single exception of electricity the base hospital must carry within itself the wherewithal for every imaginable need. It is a little world to itself. It may happily go into some town and find many conveniences ready at hand; it may, however, go into a tented wilderness and have to live upon itself. Good sense, as well as instructions, demands that the more trying of the two contingencies be adopted as the basis for preparation. It is therefore, literally true that everything from tooth-picks to ice plants will have to be bought. There will be shoes to mend as well as people, and the cobbler will need his tools as well as the surgeon. The parallel might be carried along almost indefinitely. Will Probably Be Expended
Under orders from Washington the base hospital is planned on a basis of 500 beds, and supplies were figured on a basis of three months, at the end of which period the government would assume full responsibility. Modification is now made in both particulars. Recently we have been encouraged to note that the government is beginning to get a grip on the situation and today is vastly better prepared than it was three months ago to meet hospi- (Continued on third page)
NURSES EAGER FOR SERVICE
The head of each section of Base Hospital No. 45 is congratulating himself on the efficiency and general desirability of the personnel under his immediate supervision, but none of the others can have more just cause for a glow of satisfaction and pride than the chief nurse, for the list presented by her to Washington for final approval was made up of women who worthily met every requirement from the standpoint of training, experience, education and high moral standard. Applications for appointment on the staff have come, practically unsolicited, from nurses from Florida to New York, and from as far west as Texas, but by the ruling of the authorities in Washington, only those could be considered who were either residents of the State, or else residents of other States, but graduates of hospitals in Virginia. This deprived us of the services of many valuable women, but, at the same time, preserved and encouraged a strong feeling of loyalty and esprit de corps; and the loneliness and apprehension that might come to one in thinking of the difficulties that lie before us, are in a measure mitigated by the knowledge that we are at least going in the company of congenial and reliable friends.
Provided for Every Emergency
It is most interesting to look through the list and see how well every line in the nursing profession is represented. Naturally, the largest and oldest field is one from which the majority are drawn, and we find that we have thirty-six who have, up to the present time, been devoting themselves to private duty nursing. But, at lest there should be any feeling of doubt as to the effective organization of such a large establishment as we shall eventually have, it is gratifying to be able to state that sixteen of the staff are nurses who have held positions as superintendents, assistant superintendents or head nurses, and whose experience has varied from six months to thirteen years. So, even though the conditions we are going to meet will be widely different from anything any of us have ever been confronted with before, this executive ability and experience, we feel sure, will prove invaluable. The operating rooms will be well looked after, as three of the members of the unit are at present filling positions as operating room superintendents, and a number of the others have had more or less experience in the same position at different tiems. Public health problems will be placed in the competent hands of the six members of that branch of profession that we are takinng with us, and the remaining four of the sixty-five nurses have all specialized in various lines, so that no emergency can surely arise that will ot find someone with experience and training to meet it. Some Practical Advice
I wish I were able to give definite information to the nurses in regard to their equipment, but the instructions received from Washington have been so varied, and have changed so often that it seemed the wisest thing, particularly in view of the uncertainty of the date of our departure, to wait until the final revision had been made as headquarters before sending out any list. This much, though, is certain: we shall only be allowed a very limited amount of baggage so that it is a foregone conclusion that our real, or fancied, needs must perforce be reduced t a Spartan-like simplicity. It might be well to mention, however, that all the lists agree that we should provide ourselves with a generous supply of shoes, including one pair of heavy high tan shoes. Remember that new shoes are not always comfortable, so get them in time to have them well broken in before we sail. From advice received from abroad, it is evident that black shoes are much more practical than white, and except for "dress" occasions the latter will probably not be worn. Pumps and French heels are not allowed to be worn on duty in military or Red Cross units. As soon as possible, full detailed instructions and particulars in regard to your entire equipment will be sent you.
In a recent letter from Miss Clara D. Noyes the following statement occurs: "I am trying to secure an appropriation from the Red Cross and I think in any case they will provide not only the outdoor uniform and all that goes with it, the gray uniforms and the steamer rug, but they will also provide the sleeping bags and the extraordinary equipment. I should not allow any of the nurses to make any purchases or resign their positions until we are definitely certain the unit will be called upon. There is usually ample time after that. Each nurse, however, should be saving up a sum of money, as she should not reach New York with less than $50.00 in her possession. "The question of pensions is under consideration, and I am sure something definite will be ultimately decided upon" It is only natural that we should have the feeling that, during the period of waiting, we ought to be doing something to prepare ourselves for what is ahead of us, but there is very little advice I am able to give. The men enlisted in the unit have already begun a course of physical exercises and drill, and if it is feasible, instructions of some such nature will be started for those members of the nursing staff who live in Richmond. It might be well for those who are able to do so to take lessons in French, though a knowledge of the language is not absolutely essential. To brush up one's surgical technique, would be most advisable; also, to become as conversant as possible, through one's reading, with conditions abroad, and the newest methods of medical and surgical work in military hospitals; but probably the most important thing for each nurse to do at present is to make a systematic effort to get herself in the best possible physical condition, and keep herself so.
I accepted the position of chief nurse with considerable misgivings, knowing that I lacked experience in handling affairs of such large dimensions, and being absolutely ignorant of all things military. I had worked many years with the nurses of Virginia, however, and I was comforted by the knowledge of how much efficient support I would be able to count on. As I have talked and corresponded with those who have applied, I have been more and more impressed with the earnestness and enthusiasm that animates them, and with the loyalty and co-operation of such a body of women, I feel that surely one can face, with at least a fair amount of equanimity, even the hard and difficult places in the unknown way before us.
RUTH I ROBERTSON.