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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

100 years ago in Spokane: Flu hospital overwhelmed as nurses get ill

The flu was hitting the college army training corps particularly hard, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Oct. 24, 1918. Washington State College had 155 cases, Gonzaga had 60 cases, and the University of Idaho had 48 cases. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The flu was hitting the college army training corps particularly hard, the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Oct. 24, 1918. Washington State College had 155 cases, Gonzaga had 60 cases, and the University of Idaho had 48 cases. (Spokesman-Review archives)

Spokane’s emergency Spanish flu hospital in the Lion Hotel was now crowded to capacity and “more nurses were needed at once.”

The nursing shortage was exacerbated by the fact that nurses themselves were contracting the disease. Several of the volunteer nurses at the hospital were now flu patients. The other nurses were “working 16 to 20 hours at a time.”

The health department issued a new order prohibiting all visiting of hospitals. The only exceptions were for patients in danger of death. Relatives and “spiritual advisers” were allowed to visit them.

The flu was hitting the college Army training corps particularly hard. Washington State College had 155 cases, Gonzaga had 60 cases and the University of Idaho had 48 cases.

The Army trainees at Normal School at Cheney (today’s Eastern Washington University) had somehow escaped the epidemic. The commanding officer said it was because “just as soon as a boy shows up with a cold, off to the hospital he goes – we take absolutely no chances and in that way we have kept free from the influenza.”

With all public gatherings banned, the Spokane Daily Chronicle said newspapers were more important than ever. “Spokane just now is back a couple of centuries in the way of getting word to the people … except for the newspapers.”


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