BASE HOSPITAL No. 9

A. E. F.

A History of the Work of the
New York Hospital Unit
During Two Years of Active Service

WRITTEN BY THE
PADRE

NEW YORK: 1920

 

JULY 21, 1917. The organization was mobilized pursuant to Par. 1, S. O. 13, H. E. D., July 16, 1917; the officers and enlisted men on Governor's Island and the Nurses and Civilian Employees on Ellis Island. The personnel assembled was as follows:

1 Officer M.C., U.S.A. 24 Officers M.R.C., U.S.A. 64 Nurses A.N.C., U.S.A. 1 Officer Q.M.R.C. U.S.A. I N.C.O., U.S.A. 150 Enlisted men, E.R.C., U.S.A.

AUGUST 7, 1917. The organization boarded the U. S. C. T. Finland in accordance with telegraphic instructions (Gvt No. 367), A. G., July 13, 1917, and sailed for France.

AUGUST 20, 1917. Arrived at St. Nazaire, France.

AUGUST 21, 1917. Proceeded to Savenay, the enlisted men with three officers on foot, the nurses and the remainder of the officers by train. At Savenay, quarters were furnished with Base Hospital No. 8, which was stationed there.

SEPTEMBER 2, 1917. Ten officers and 75 men left for Chateauroux where they began the work of preparing the hospital buildings for occupation.

SEPTEMBER 7, 1917. The nurses and the remainder of the officers and men proceeded to Chateauroux by train in accordance with telephonic instructions, Hdq., Base Section No. 1, A. E. F., Sept. 5, 1917.

SEPTEMBER 14, 1917. The first group of officers left for temporary duty with the B. E. F. During the following three or four months, similar groups of two officers each, followed each other at intervals of about two weeks, each group starting out at about the time that its predecessor was returning. During this period also several officers were absent at different times on detached duty with the French army.

SEPTEMBER 15, 1917. The first patient was admitted to the hospital.

OCTOBER, 1917. During the month of September, tentative plans for the enlargement and alteration of the hospital plant were completed and at the end of this month a detachment of about forty engineers arrived to begin the work. This detachment was later augmented by a small detachment of infantry which was ordered away before the completion of the work. The work continued as steadily as the arrival of materials would permit for a period of about six months. It involved the making of innumerable repairs, a thorough overhauling of the heating system, marked enlargement of the water supply and sewage disposal plants, the erection of some fourteen isolated barracks and eleven others which were combined to form the admission building, the installation of the X-ray plant and the enlargement of the electrical system.

NOVEMBER 14, 1917. The force of enlisted men was increased by 25.

JANUARY 1, 1918. Census of patients, 226.

JANUARY 14, 1918. The first hospital train arrived at this hospital, bringing 94 patients from St. Nazaire. The train itself was a French one. This raised the census of patients to 413.

FEBRUARY 1, 1918. The cases in the hospital have been chiefly medical diseases, especially the contagious diseases–mumps, measles, German measles, scarlet fever and diphtheria. All have been of the ordinary type except the measles, which has shown a marked tendency to be complicated with or followed by bronchopneumonia of an especially virulent variety. During the month of January alone there were thirteen deaths from this cause. Clinically these cases were marked by great dyspnea and cyanosis and severe toxemia. At autopsy the areas of consolidation were very small and numerous and in practically every case there was suppurative inflammation of one or more of the accessory sinuses of the skull. Major Elser was unable to complete his bacteriologic investigation of this disease on account of his detachment from this organization, but was able to isolate a streptococcus, a member of the influenza group and a member of the group of gram-negative cocci, which occurred, one or more in each case. It was not possible to devise any effective therapeutic measures.

FEBRUARY 3, 1918. Major Charles L. Gibson, the Director of the Unit, sailed from France, having been ordered back to the United States because of the need for his services at the Cornell Medical School in the Department of Surgery.

FEBRUARY 14, 1918. Major William J. Elser was detached from this organization to become an assistant to the Director of the Division of Laboratories (Col. Siler).

FEBRUARY 15, 1918. First issue of Nine Times. Favorably received by New York Press.

MARCH 31, 1918. Arrival of hospital train bringing first group of wounded, from Montdidier section.

APRIL 30, 1918. During this month, the detachment of engineers, which had been working at this post for the past six months or so, completed their work and departed.

MAY 31, 1918. A device for automatically chlorinating the water supplied to this post with liquid chlorine was installed and put into operation. This was done in spite of the fact that the sand filter beds were furnishing a water of fairly good quality, as chlorination would furnish an added safeguard and assure safety from any water borne infection.

JUNE 19, 1918. Lt. Col. Arthur N. Tasker was relieved of his position as Commanding Officer and left to take up his duties in the office of the Chief Surgeon, Intermediate Section, S. O. S., as Sanitary Inspector. Major George Hawley became Commanding Officer.

JUNE 24, 1918. The personnel of the organization was enlarged by the arrival of 55 enlisted men.

JULY 1, 1918. Census of patients 1050.

JULY 10, 1918. During the past few days there has reached this post the first cases of the epidemic of so-called "Spanish Influenza" or "three day fever" which has been so widespread. The following note was made by Major Edward Cussler: "Cases of epidemic fever, average duration three to four days, chief symptoms general pains and aching in the back, loss of appetite, headache, with catarrhal symptoms. The course of the disease is mild. No fatalities have occurred. The cases have been isolated. Similar cases have come from the various organizations in the immediate vicinity." About 60° of the organization were attacked by the disease.

AUGUST 2, 1918. There arrived at this hospital an American hospital train which brought 424 patients and raised the census of patients to 2106. In order to aid in the provision of space for these patients a detachment of engineers was hurriedly sent from Montierchaume and erected four new barracks.

AUGUST 15, 1918. The insufficiency of the sewage disposal plant had been obvious for some time. The trouble had been increased by the condition of the contact beds which had become clogged and had suffered breaches in their walls. A detachment from an Engineers Service Battalion was sent down from Montierchaume to clean out these contact beds and make such alteration as might bring about an increase in their efficiency. A laundry was built by the Quartermaster corps in the building near the filter bed, in the hope that it would be running in about two or three weeks. This would relieve the contact bed of handling all the effluent from the small laundry which was situated on the post and which drained into one of the septic tanks. The septic tanks were insufficient to take care of the sewage from the post, but it was possible to have them cleaned rather often and their contents taken over by the French contractor and spread upon plowed ground.

SEPTEMBER 5, 1918. Sharp, severe hail and wind storm blew down the roof of the gallery in front of Ward 11, and filled several of the barracks with water, notably those in which the enlisted men slept.

OCTOBER 10, 1918. First consignment of 73 patients were sent down to the Ecole Normale which had been fitted up as an annex to the hospital. The purpose was to use this annex for patients who needed comparatively little medical care, expecting to increase the total hospital capacity by about 200 beds.

OCTOBER 15, 1918. Major Archibald H. Busby left the post having been ordered back to the United States on duty. He had been acting as Assistant to the Commanding Officer and as Mess Officer in addition to being in charge of the X-ray Department.

NOVEMBER 1, 1918. During the month of October there were admitted to the hospital a large number of cases of broncho-pneumonia occurring chiefly as a complication of a prevalent epidemic of influenza.. It was a very severe infection and twenty-eight autopsies were done on cases that had died from this disease. The principal bacteriologic finding was the pneumococcus in the lung, although some of the cases seemed to be due to the hemolytic streptococcus. The pathologic lesions were those of the ordinary lobular pneumonia though the extent of the consolidation was often unusually large. By the end of the month the admissions for influenza and for broncho-pneumonia were decreasing and it seemed as though the epidemic might be passing off. The majority of the cases came from the various organizations stationed at Montierchaume. An observation of Capt. Cussler's should be noted. "Very few cases have occurred in our own command. Since this is very different from the experience of other organizations in this vicinity it seems possible that the epidemic of influenza, which attacked so many members of this command about three or four months ago (see note of July lo, 1918) was due to the same organism as the present epidemic, and that it left behind it sufficient immunity to protect against infection at this time. The pneumococcus and the streptococcus are apparently secondary infections."

DECEMBER 27, 1918. Major Edward Cussler, who had been in charge of the Medical Department of the Hospital, and Major Ralph Stillman, Chief of the Laboratory, ordered back to the United States for duty.

JANUARY 1, 1919. Lt. Col. George W. Hawley ordered to the United States for duty at the Polyclinic Hospital. Major James P. Erskine became Commanding Officer.

JANUARY 4, 1919. Base Hospital 63 arrived under the command of Col. Charles Wilcox.

JANUARY 14, 1919. The Hospital was officially turned over to Base Hospital No. 63. There were 559 patients under our care at that time.

JANUARY 25, 1919. Went on Priority sailing list in the Chief Surgeon's Office.

FEBRUARY 10, 1919. Dismissed from duty in the A. E. F.

MARCH 5, 1919. Left Chateauroux for Nantes as per S. O. 55 Par. 5 Hdqrs. S. O. S.

MARCH 16, 1919. Nurses sailed from Brest on the Leviathan.

APRIL 5, 1919. All but five officers detached and sent to Brest. They sailed on the George Washington April 8, 1919.

APRIL 11, 1919. Organization left Vallet for St. Nazaire.

APRIL 14, 1919. Organization went aboard the Princess Mitoika as per S. O. 103, Par. 22 Hq. Emb. Camp.

APRIL 16, 1919. Sailed from France.

APRIL 27, 1919. Landed at Newport News, Va., and proceeded to Camp Hill.

MAY 3, 1919. Went aboard the steamer Jamestown to sail for New York.

MAY 4, 1919. Landed in New York.

MAY 5, 1919. Moved to Camp Upton, where the organization was discharged from the service.

 

CHAPTER l.

Genesis.

The Unit had its birth in those days when the country had not yet heard the call of war. There was much talk of preparedness but little was being done to give one the feeling of national security should we be drawn into the European conflict.. The American Red Cross had offered (International Red Cross Convention, 1906, Article 10) to render aid to the land and naval forces in any time of emergency. On April 24th, 1912, by an act of Congress, the necessary authority was granted. Definite steps were then taken, and the Department of Military Relief was created (December 8th, 1915). This included the Bureau of Medical Service, the Bureau of Nursing Service and the Bureau of Supplies. Col. Jefferson R. Kean, M.C. U.S.A. was the Director General.

Col. Kean began to organize Base Hospital Units, believing they would be urgently needed should war be declared. His plan was to go to the civil hospitals of large size and activity and organize from their staffs of physicians and nurses, units in which the individuals knew each other and were accustomed to work together and could thus be expected to do team work from the beginning. Such hospitals would have five hundred beds and a personnel of about two hundred. About $35,000 would be necessary for medical equipment.

The Board of Governors of the New York Hospital were invited to form such an organization from its professional and administrative staff. The invitation was met with an enthusiastic and prompt response; and plans were soon made to enlist the medical personnel and to provide a full equipment of hospital and medical supplies which would be packed and stored so as to be available for shipment the instant that the hospital should be ordered into service. The following donors and donations helped to make the equipment complete:

George F. Baker

$25,000.00

Cornelius N. Bliss Memorial Fund

10,000.00

Mr. and Mrs. Henry W. Scoville

1,000. 00

E. C. Converse

2,500.00

Thomas F. Ryan

500.00

George C. Clark

1,000. 00

F. Augustus Schermerhorn

500.00

Mrs. Patrick A. Valentine

1,000. 00

William Bruce Brown

500.00

Thomas F. Clark

250.00

Dr. Charles L. Gibson

550.55

Dr. William L. Culbert

260.25

Mrs. Chas. E. Farr

250.00

Miss Elizabeth Whitman

100 00

Dr. Allen M. Thomas

150.00

Miss Diana Yorke

100 00

Mrs. Allen M. Thomas

50.00

A. Wright Post

210. 00

Ambulance---Colonial Dames of America
Ambulance---N. Y. Produce Exchange
Ambulance---American Red Cross
Motor Cycle---Mrs. E. H. Harris
Motor Cycle---Miss Clarkson
Motor Truck---Mr. Dillon
Motor Truck---Fox Hills Golf Club
Disinfecting Outfit---American Red Cross
Kitchen Outfit---American Red Cross
Dressings and supplies---Women's War Auxiliary of New York Hospital
Four Flags---Mrs. Richard Trimble
Comfort bags for officers---Mrs. H. C. Coe
Knitting machine and 100 mosquito bars---Miss Helen Frock
35 sweaters---Navy League Comforts Committee
2 sweaters---Miss Katherine L. Heard
Fund of $2,000 for nurses from Women's Auxiliary of Social Service, New York Hospital.
The Chaplain's Equipment---Calvary Episcopal Church
An Altar Outfit---Mr. and Mrs. George Zabriskie

When the subject was placed before the staff they were all eager to enroll. However, only a limited number was required for the Unit, so a selection had to be made. The Governors decided it wisest "to choose the members from the oldest and the youngest members, leaving the intermediate members, such as the associate surgeons and physicians, to conduct the Hospital service." By June 19th, 1916, the organization was effected and became subject to call by the War Department.

 

CHAPTER II.

Exodus.

The call did not come for a year. The Unit did not take a more definite form until after the United States entered the war in April, 1917. Then other steps were taken to perfect the organization. The personnel was assembled and the providing of the equipment completed. Everyone was ready to move on a short notice and the supplies could be taken aboard ship within a few hours.

On July 21st, 1917, the organization, which was called U. S. A. Base Hospital Number 9, was mobilized pursuant to Par. I S. O. No. 13 H. E. D. July 16th, 1917. The officers and enlisted men went to Governor's Island while the nurses and civilian employees spent their days on Ellis Island. Captain Arthur N. Tasker, M.C. U.S.A., was the Commanding Officer and Major Charles L. Gibson, M.C. U.S.R., through whose efforts the Unit was made possible, was the Director. The personnel at that time consisted of 27 Officers, 1 noncommissioned officer, 64 nurses, 5 civilian secretaries, and 150 enlisted men. These were now to be initiated into the mystic rites which belong only to service life. They were to unlearn many lessons taught them in democratic civilian life, and were to devote themselves to discipline and duty. But above all, they were to lose themselves in a great cause and find themselves serving their God, their country and humanity through their organization.

But those days on the Islands will never be forgotten. In one respect the nurses were the more fortunate, for none of their number had ever been to Fort Benjamin Harrison---yet in later days they were given the privilege of sharing in the knowledge which certain members of the staff assimilated there. It was here that the men were provided with their uniforms. Brooks Brothers latest were discarded and the nearest fitting model of khaki put on. Silk shirts became woolen and patent leather shoes became hob-nails. Life took on a new aspect. Artistic souls could be seen policing the barracks, clerks were washing mess kits, salesmen became stevedores and the professional men were doing K. P. And they all did it as if they were winning the war. Here they learned that reveille meant to get up and answer roll call and that taps meant that they must be in bed. This was difficult for some who had been accustomed to go to bed nearer reveille time. But as far as the officers ever heard the men never confused the calls after the first few days ! !

Those were hot days. Never before nor since has the sun sent down such volumes of heat in one place. One wouldn't have minded it so much if "the powers that were" had been contented to allow one to become familiar with the uniform. But, no, one was in the army, and one must know it. Therefore there was school, there were drills, there were assemblies, and there were inspections. But the drills! The eternal question was: "Why should doctors drill?" This was never really answered until one day, months later, a certain prominent surgeon---in fact the one who taught them on the Island---brought a patient into the operating room on a litter and had the orderlies there make the transfer to the table in due and true military fashion.

Anyway squads east and right oblique were done every morning until Coke Williamson looked like a West Point graduate.

Those were the days of good-byes and best wishes. Every night the thought would be "this is the last night home" and the best use was always made of it. Then in the morning came the heart-aches and the partings. The next evening the hero would return home and go through the same emotional process. One morning the Unit nearly sailed and the relatives were told about it that night. However, orders finally came and very early on the morning of August 7th, 1917, the officers and men left Governor's Island on a barge. The nurses went aboard at Ellis Island; the entire Unit went to Pier 11, North River, where the U. S. C. T. Finland was ready to sail for France.

 [...]

CHAPTER V.

The Formative Days.

The hospital was located in a place known as Bitray, about one mile and half from Chateauroux. Chateauroux was the capital of the department, in pre-war days a manufacturing city of about 23,000 inhabitants. The buildings which were designated for our use had been originally built for an insane asylum and were known as "Maison de Santé." Before their completion, the war came and the entire plant was used as a Base Hospital, and called by the French "Hopital Complementaire 25." There were thirty-four buildings constructed of brick and stucco, with a capacity of five hundred beds. They were all adapted to hospital purposes, and very few changes had to be made. Beside the buildings there were twenty acres of land which were turned over for our use.

Our problem was to use the space to the best advantage. As it was to be a war hospital, the surgeons naturally chose the majority of the buildings. The medical men contended that disease was as deadly a foe to an army as the enemy bullet. The "orthopods " argued that at least they must have a place for those men who through hiking had contracted a morbid condition of the foot in which the arch is destroyed. All were agreed on the place for the laboratory, the operating rooms and the chapel. But after several officers' meetings, space was allotted to all---the medical men getting most of it the first winter.

The buildings had to be cleaned, so the nurses and men cleaned them. Then beds had to be put in. Here let me quote the Nine Times. " And we learned the Bolling method of bed carrying, i.e. the frame in the right hand, the spring in the left and the mattress held between the teeth. Then to our horror we were told that we must unlearn the Bolling system of bed carrying and acquire the Cromwell Chapman method, in which the mattress is held under the left arm and it is the spring which is carried between the teeth. At last there came a day when there was one bed which could not be placed in eight different wards, for we had caught a patient and it was occupied." The reason for the constant moving of beds was due to the keen desire of certain individuals to know the exact floor and air space of the buildings, with each calculation a bed was moved and another put in its place.

While all this was going on the men were doing guard duty and learning the intricacies of litter drill. (This drill when it was perfected was used once---not on patients---when an inspecting officer asked for it. Kent will never forget that day.) The nurses between bed makings, drilled under the direction of Major Pool and Lieut. Davis. (This class came to an end when Pool went to the British front.) The officers spent the day in discussing plans and the evening in solving such problems as "Who has control of the air?" or "What nation leads the world in everything?" (This was usually a monologue---in military parlance, "a gas attack. ") Nothing tangible ever came from the night sessions; but from the day meetings, plans were made for additional barracks, an admission ward, and a system for admitting patients.

On September 15th, the first patient was admitted. A telegram came in the morning that one of the men of the 1st Engineers had fallen and fractured his femur and would arrive at Chateauroux about eleven o'clock that night. Everybody worked all day getting ready for him. The C. O. designated nurses and orderlies for the ward, an extra guard to go with the ambulance to the station, Stephens Schrock and Adair to be there to work on him, and a full registrar's staff to work that night. Moreover, he would be there himself. Thus was the patient received.

During this period the C. O. found it necessary to go to Paris. This made our Director, Major Gibson, the Commanding Officer of the Post. To show how happy we all were to have him in command, a dance and reception was given in his honor. As the Major had not yet established himself in his quarters at the hospital, it was planned that a committee should welcome him that evening as he entered the gates. Major Elser was asked to make the speech of welcome. About 8.30, Major Gibson drew up in a sea-going hack. As he stepped out Elser began---"Major Gibson, it gives me great pleasure"---Major Gibson walks away and wrangles with the cocher over the fare. This settled, Elser begins again, "Major Gibson, it gives me great pleasure to"---Major Gibson thinks of something else to tell the cocher and he begins a torrent of French. As it was apparently settled now, Elser begins once more "Major Gibson, it gives me great pleasure "---Major Gibson realizes that something is happening and that Elser is talking, so he takes him by the hand and says, "That's all right, old man, that's all right." That well prepared speech of affection has never been delivered.

During these days much time was devoted to the learning of the French language. The Dezert sisters were constantly in company with the members of the Unit. When the lessons were over the result was practiced on the people in the town. One of the surgeons who was always happy and had the faculty of spreading that warmth of contentment to those whom he met, tried to tell one of the shop girls in the Grand Magasin (Wanamaker's) how happy he was to be in France. He began " je suis tres joli " and stopped. The shop girl smiled and said, "Oui, monsieur." Thinking that she did not fully understand he separated his remark emphasizing "joli." Again politely she said "Oui, monsieur." The next day when he took his lesson he found that "joli" did not mean happy. Americans in France did strange things to the language yet the response was always polite. Perhaps they laughed when they were alone.

During the month of September, tentative plans for the enlargement and alteration of the hospital plant were completed, and at the end of the month a detachment of forty engineers, under the command of Lieut. Edward Duff, E.C. U.S.A., arrived to begin the work. The detachment was later augmented by a small detachment of infantry, which was ordered away before the completion of the work. The construction continued as steadily as the arrival of materials would permit. It involved the making of innumerable repairs, a thorough overhauling of the heating system, marked enlargement ,of the water supply and sewage disposal plants, the erection of some fourteen barracks to be used as wards and eleven others which were combined to form the admission building, the installation of the X-ray plant, and the enlargement of the electrical system.

During this time patients were being admitted, mostly medical, a large number contagious, and a few civil surgical cases. The officers were being sent to the British front in teams to observe their hospitalization. Some of the nurses and orderlies were working in French hospitals along the lines. By the early part of 1918 the capacity of the hospital was increased to 2250 beds. In the days to come all of these beds were to be occupied.

 

CHAPTER VI.

" When a Train Came In. "

On January I 4th, 1918, the first hospital train arrived, bringing 94 patients from St. Nazaire. These were mostly medical cases that would be ready for service at the front within a few weeks. It gave us a total of 4s3 patients at that time.

It was about this time that the Unit suffered the loss of Major Gibson. He was ordered to the States to take up his work at the New York Hospital and at the Cornell Medical School where he became head of the Department of Surgery. His going was keenly felt by all. Others of our number within a few weeks were sent to other posts. Major Pool went to Evacuation Hospital No. 1, Captain Lee went to assist Col. Finney and to direct the organization of transfusion for the A. E. F., and Major Elser went to the Central Laboratories at Dijon. Others of our number were away for weeks at a time. Captain Erskine, Lieutenants Adair and Dineen were at Ris Orangis; Lieutenants Boiling, Stephens, and Schrock were at Noyon, and Dugdale and Echeverria were at Soissons.

On March 31st, 1918, the first group of wounded patients came in on a train from the Montdidier section. From this time on until the signing of the armistice, wounded came in at frequent intervals. The number became larger and larger until the first part of August, when it became obvious that more provision must be made to house them. Let me here describe the admission of patients into the hospital.

Patients came from the front in hospital trains. These trains were simply handsome hospitals on wheels. They could accommodate about 350 stretcher cases or 500 walking cases. Each coach had 36 cots hung in threes one above the other. When desired the top cot could be slung flat to the side of the coach, the second cot slipped down and made a back to the lower cot, thus forming a sofa or lounge. The space between the rows of cots was very wide---sufficient to allow a stretcher to pass with ease. The train carried a water supply of 2835 gallons, apart from the drinking water carried in filters. Electric fans changed the air completely when the train was in motion. The heating was entirely independent of the engine. There were bathrooms, douches, lavatories, an operating room, a pharmacy, a kitchen, and supply rooms. So complete was the provision department that 500 persons could be comfortably fed for three days at a stretch.

The staff comprised three medical officers, three nurses, a sergeant first class, two sergeants, two cooks, and thirty-one enlisted men. "The coaches were the last word in hygiene---rounded corners so as to be easily cleaned, cheery and extremely neat, all in white enamel finished off in mahogany." It was on such trains that the American sick and wounded were taken to and from the hospital.

The following simple plan of operation was devised to avoid the loss of time by officers and men when a train was expected to bring patients or to evacuate patients to or from our hospital. I quote from a Memorandum of April 17th, 1918:

"1. All information received either by telegram or telephone concerning the probable time of arrival of sanitary trains will be transmitted by the Adjutant at once to the Commanding Officer, the Registrar, Detraining (or Entraining) Officer, Quartermaster, and Mess Officer. All changes later received will similarly be transmitted to the officers above mentioned.

"2. If information is received to the effect that a train is expected between Taps and First Call for Reveille the Detachment Commander will send one enlisted man to the quai not less than thirty minutes before the supposed hour of arrival of the train. As soon as the train passes the quai to Chateauroux, or as soon as it reaches the quai if it is coming from the other side of Chateauroux, this soldier will immediately awaken the chauffeur who is on guard at the garage. He will then proceed as rapidly as possible to the Hospital and inform the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Guard of the arrival of the train, and the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Guard will immediately direct the Musician of the Guard to blow First Call, which will be followed ten minutes later by Reveille, to be in turn followed five minutes later by Assembly. Assembly will be followed, as soon as the detachment shall have been dismissed, by Mess Call. To provide for this contingency, the Mess Officer shall have previously made arrangements looking to furnishing breakfast to all patients who are to be evacuated, if such is the purpose for which the train has come. The enlisted men of this command, however, will not have breakfast until the entraining or detraining process has been completed.

"3. If the train is due to arrive between First Call for Reveille and Fatigue Call, First Call, Reveille and Assembly will be as usual, but Mess Call will be blown five minutes after Assembly. To provide for this contingency, the Mess Officer shall have previously made arrangements looking thereto so that breakfast may be served at once to all enlisted men of this command, and to all patients who are to be evacuated, if such is the purpose for which the train has come. Upon such an occasion twenty minutes only will be allowed for breakfast and at the end of this time Assembly will again be blown in all parts of the Post, upon which all enlisted men designated for duty in connection with the reception or evacuation of patients will immediately report to the Officers to whom they have been assigned for duty.

"4. If the train Is due to arrive between morning Fatigue Call and Taps, the Detachment Commander will still send a member of the detachment Medical Department to the quai not less than thirty minutes before the arrival of the train, and this soldier will be responsible for informing the Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of motor transportation or such chauffeur or mechanic as may be at the garage. The soldier will then proceed at once to the Hospital and inform the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Guard of the arrival of the train, and the non-commissioned officer of the Guard will at once cause the Musician of the Guard to blow Assembly in all parts of the Post. This will be the signal for all enlisted men designated for duty in connection with the reception or evacuation of patients to report at once to the officers to whom they have been assigned for duty.

"5. The intent of the foregoing is to allow the arrival of sanitary trains to interfere as little as possible with the normal functioning of the hospital, but some such interference can not, of course, be entirely avoided. Particular attention is invited to the fact that the Mess Officer must be prepared to feed patients who are to be evacuated at practically any hour of the day or night. Ward Surgeons must hold themselves responsible for making the necessary arrangements to procure meals from the kitchen at any hour of the day or night for such patients as are to be evacuated but are not able to go to the mess hall. They must also hold themselves responsible for seeing that the clothing and equipment of patients to be evacuated is properly distributed in the ward, that no patients leave the ward for the admission building in preparation for evacuation until the registrar has signified his readiness to accept such patients at the admission building, and finally that no patients leave the ward taking with them any articles or property pertaining to this hospital.

"6. The Registrar will see to it that patients when brought to the admission building are separated as follows:

(a) Cases of insanity and other mental diseases in alphabetical order.

(b) Cases of epidemic disease in alphabetical order.

(c) All other litter case in alphabetical order.

(d) All other sitting cases in alphabetical order.

"7. Cases when classified as indicated in the preceding paragraph will be sent to the quai in groups in alphabetical order as soon as may be possible. Groups who are able to walk will be conducted to the quai under the supervision of the non-commissioned officer. Upon arrival at the quai they will be reported to the Entraining Officer, who will be responsible for causing to be made a final check by name of all patients evacuated. He will, as soon as this check is completed, hand to the Registrar, or his representative, the lists upon which the check has been made, and the latter will then be responsible for securing from the Commanding Officer of the train a receipt for those patients by name as checked, and for all public property which may be turned over to the Commanding Officer of the train for delivery to the hospital for which the patients are destined."

These simple directions made the handling of patients an easy matter!!!

A system of barracks for admission buildings had been built in what was once a picturesque court, but during the season of the drives they were turned into wards. One building was an examining ward where the registrar classified the case and designated it for the proper ward. In another building the clothing was taken from the patient, marked and sterilized. The next barrack contained the bath. Near this was the X-ray examination room and an emergency operating room.

When a train came in the hospital was a bee-hive of activity. There was no lost motion those days nor for days to follow. The red tape reports on each patient were enough to keep the staff busy without a thought for the care of the patients. But the staff of nurses and doctors put treatment first and reports second. This does not mean that they were not done, but it does mean that they were not the first thing in importance. Base Hospital No. 9 believed that its chief duty was to care for the sick and wounded.

 

CHAPTER VII

Base Hospital No. 9 becomes the Orthopedic Centre of France.

In the spring of 1918, the hospital which had been functioning as a general hospital was designated by the Chief Surgeon as the Orthopedic Centre of the American Expeditionary Forces. Base Hospital No. 9 was selected because of its unique position and because of its excellent equipment for the work. Credit for the latter must be given to the far-seeing policy of Major Gibson, who when planning the equipment took into account the large work that would necessarily be done with bone and joint wounds. This did not mean that general surgical and medical cases would no longer be received---for during the entire life of the hospital a very large number of such cases were treated,---but simply that the Orthopedic Section of Surgery of the A. E. F. would consider this their base.

Almost immediately a staff of Orthopedic surgeons were selected under the direction of Lt. Col. Goldthwaite, Major George W. Hawley, of the Unit, was made director of the work. He divided the work into two sections under the control of Lieut. Richmond Stevens and Lieut. Robert Schrock. A school was started to train orthopedic surgeons. Officers began to arrive in large numbers and spent from two to six weeks observing and studying the methods of war surgery. Lectures were given every day and clinics held in the operating room and in the wards. As the Carrel-Dakin method of wound treatment was being used with marked success, it added much interest to the work that was being studied. It was from this base that "the orthopods" were sent to the line and to other hospitals in France. About 200 surgeons went out from here.

It was also at this base that the reconstruction aides were trained and sent out. A permanent staff of occupational and therapeutic workers remained to train the others. They did work in the wards as well as in their work shops. About 100 aides received their training here.

An orthopedic workshop was started and successfully worked. Lieut. Grimes was placed in charge. Patients received their treatment here and at the same time made a great many useful things for the hospital. Most of the splints and frames that were used were made on the Post by Private Samuel Gore---a member of the Unit.

On June 19th, 1918, Major Tasker, who had been promoted to the rank of Lieut. Colonel, was relieved of his position as Commanding Officer and left to take up his duties in the office of the Chief Surgeon, Intermediate Section, S. O. S. as Sanitary Inspector. Major George Hawley then became Commanding Officer.

 

SOME INTERESTING STATISTICS.

1. Admissions and Dismissals.

BASE HOSPITAL NO. 9---ADMISSIONS AND DISMISSALS

1917
ADMISSIONS DISMISSALS AVERAGE HOSPITAL DAYS.
August

2

--

--

2

September

13

4

3

104

October

42

16

16

498

November

189

66

92

2,763

December

280

2 11

178

5,534

1918
       
January

585

392

383

11,875

February

306

370

400

11,207

March

751

359

363

11,247

April

1,205

1,045

689

20,669

May

610

780

824

25,543

June

1,251

928

1,008

30,226

July

1,974

1,332

1,212

37,603

August

1,254

1,782

1,595

49,459

September

1,640

1,376

1,336

40,o96

October

2,618

2,132

1,950

60,450

November

1,584

2,098

1,813

54,384

December

791

904

1,386

42,978

1919
       
January 1-13

124

863

678

8,817

 

15,219

14,660

   

To B. H. No. 63

559

   
   

15,219

   

Total deaths

154

 
Dead on admission

21

 
Death rate

133

0.87%

 

2. The Curve of Patients in the Hospital.

This is of unusual interest as it indicates rather clearly the prominent engagements in which the Americans took part. One can see that the curve rises shortly after the beginning of the Allied Offensive (July t4th, 1918) also after the St. Mihiel and Argonne drives. It falls very rapidly after the signing of the armistice. (See chart on opposite page.)

 

3. The Number of Operations.

1917 TOTAL GEN.SURG. ORTH. EYE, EAR, NOSE & THROAT
September

3

3

0

0
October

5

4

1

0
November

31

29

0

2
December

51

38

3

10
January

71

52

5

14
February

76

65

7

4
March

69

37

8

24
April

137

80

48

9
May

157

93

60

4
June

177

104

65

8
July

211

126

78

7
August

277

187

84

6
September

190

105

73

12
October

278

191

67

20
November

275

172

81

22
December

105

65

37

3
January 1-7

16

10

6

0
 

2,129

1,361

623

145