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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Growing influenza crisis creates demand for able nurses

The Spanish flu death toll went to 25, with 11 more deaths in Spokane in the previous 24 hours. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The Spanish flu death toll went to 25, with 11 more deaths in Spokane in the previous 24 hours. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The Spanish flu death toll went to 25, with 11 more deaths in Spokane in the previous 24 hours.

The military hospital at Fort George Wright was now one of the centers of the epidemic, with 62 cases. All were men from either the army’s automobile training school in Spokane, or from troop trains passing through the city.

Meanwhile, the new emergency hospital at the Lion Hotel in Spokane housed 50 patients, many of them critically ill. The city was asking for donations of sheets, pillow cases and other equipment.

The spreading epidemic had also created a huge demand for nurses, which authorities were hard pressed to meet.

“All women having any nursing experience are asked to enroll with the Red Cross for immediate work, even if they can remain on duty only a few days at a time,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle said.

Left unspoken was the fact that nurses, doctors and other caregivers were putting themselves at risk, since the Spanish flu was so contagious.

At Fort George Wright, the nursing shortage was temporarily eased by “the assignment of men from the guard company to do duty at the hospital during the day – the men of the medical corps are thus enabled to do nursing work at night.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1944: The U.S. Navy began accepting black women into WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).

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