Primary Resource

"Preparing to Combat With Influenza Epidemic" and "Call For Nurses," Big Stone Gap Post(October 16, 1918)

In "Preparing to Combat With Influenza Epidemic" published by the Big Stone Gap Post on October 16, 1918, the editors report on public health efforts in Big Stone Gap to prepare the city and surrounding region for the spread of the influenza pandemic of 1918–1919. They describe citizens’ participation and compliance with new policies as a form of patriotism comparable to military service in World War I (1914–1918), which is echoed in "Call For Nurses."

Transcription from Original

"Preparing to Combat With Influenza Epidemic"

On Sunday morning there was a joint meeting of members of the Town Council and citizens of the town, with Mayor Horsley acting as chairman, the purpose of which was to discuss the conditions existing and expected to develop as a result of the epidemic of Spanish influenza. According to Dr. Barringer, special health officer sent here to review the situation, we are due to have approximately 1700 cases of the disease in this immediate locality, so it at once becomes apparent to every thinking person that drastic steps must be taken to prevent a further spread of the malady and an overwhelming mortality among those already sick.

A Central Committee, composed of Mayor Horsley, Mr. Bliss and Mr. R. B. Alsover, was formed in which was vested, by vote of the Town Council and Board of Health, almost unlimited authority in the matter of handling this most threatening situation. Special officers will be employed to enforce the ordinance always in existence against spitting on the sidewalks, and to prevent the forming of crowds on the streets, in the drug stores, post office, or at any other point within the town limits.

Under this Central Committee will be working the entire personnel of the Red Cross, the Associated Charities and the Community League. The Red Cross will have charge of all public nursing, with Miss Minnie Fox, as Chairman of the committee. This committee will advise the Home Service Department of the Red Cross of the different needs of each case that comes under its care, and this department will confer with Mrs. R. B. Alsover, acting for the Associated Charities, when clothing and drugs are needed, and with Mrs. R. E. Taggart, representing the Community League, when any destitute case or family is in need of food.

It will perhaps be well to advise the members of the Community League now of the part they will be expected to play in this work. The Food Committee, consisting of Mrs. Taggart, Mrs. Irvine and Mrs. Howard will from time to time, as the necessity arises, call on the various members to help make and distribute broth and other foods for the sick, and if the epidemic assumes the proportions expected of it, an emergency kitchen will be established in the Domestic Science room of the school building where any girl or woman will be given an opportunity to show just how far her patriotism extends.

The three doctors have promised to report all cases of influenza to the Home Service Department, where a record will be kept of every case, the best source of supply of nurses being among those who have recovered from the disease and thereby obtained immunity for a period of from two to four months.

To all those, both men and women, who have so longed for the glamor and glory of service in France, let us say that the opportunity has been brought home to you to show just how truly you desire to sacrifice yourself on the altar of your country, and this you can do by stepping into the places of the nurses who have gone three thousand miles from home to serve America on the battlefields of France. Let every woman who can volunteer for public nursing in the crisis that is surely coming, and prove herself worthy of the greater sacrifices of those noble ones abroad, to whom our danger would hardly seem a grievance.

Volunteers will be welcomed at the Home Service Department, ‘phone 220.

"Call For Nurses"

The Red Cross is making an urgent appeal for nurses. Any woman who can help in the epidemic will please ring up ‘phone 220 or 62.