Red Cross Seeks Knoxville Volunteers for 1918 Flu Epidemic

Chapter To Aid “Flu” Sufferers

Volunteers Asked To Wait on the Sick

Red Cross Organization Anxious To See Knoxville Epidemic Stamped Out

Every woman in Knoxville who has completed a course in home care of the sick and hygiene, as well as others who feel they could be of use in caring for influenza patients, is asked to report at Red Cross headquarters Friday between the hours of 9:30 and 5 o’clock.  In some families every member is suffering from influenza, according to reports received at Red Cross headquarters Thursday, and in most cases it has been practically impossible to get any kind of a nurse to care for them.

The local Red Cross, which considers its duty to the civilian population and especially families of soldiers, a vital part of its war work, is preparing to secure a supply of workers who, though they will not be graduate nurses, will be able to go into sick rooms, follow a physician’s directions intelligently, and care for influenza patients.  Those who can volunteer their services are asked to do so, for in hundreds of homes there is no money to pay a nurse, but those who cannot volunteer will be used whee families are able to pay for services.

Mrs. J. Stewart French, director of the woman’s department, said Thursday afternoon in discussing the situation:  “It is certain that the epidemic in Knoxville is growing and that if something is not done at once conditions will be more serious.  Red Cross workers have become so used to working for soldiers that they may feel it outside of their line of duty to work with civilians, but I am sure that nothing of more value to the government could possibly be done at present.  University of Tennessee soldiers are now practically out of danger, although still under quarantine, but if the epidemic in the city is to be checked it will take even harder work than was necessary to check it where men wee under constant supervision and were subject to military rules.”

Prompt response to the appeal for nurses is urged.

Plans are being made to care for families without funds, but the movement is being planned as much for the benefit of people who are able to pay for nurses and are unable to secure them, as it is for poorer people.  City health authorities and the Red Cross, together with the physicians and nurses of the city, are exerting every possible effort to check the epidemic.

Several calls have been recived [sic] from small towns in the neighborhood of Knoxville, where influenza is raging and unless the epidemic is checked at once the local chapter may consider it necessary to call for volunteers for service out of the city.  The important work at present will be the enrollment of an intelligent, competent body of women strong enough and willing enough to fight the epidemic.

Source:  Knoxville Journal and Tribune – October 18, 1918, Page 8

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