During the Pandemic Flu of 1918, the administration of Bellevue Hospital gave their student nurses the option of going home while the deadly disease raged through New York City.
Not a single student nurse chose to leave. And eleven of those student nurses lost their lives while serving their patients. That’s dedication.
My historical novel, tentatively titled More Precious Than Gold, takes place against the background of WWI and the Pandemic Flu. Kitty Winthrop, eighteen years old, is a student nurse at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. It is difficult today to image the horror of the situation these student nurses found themselves in. Antibiotics hadn’t been discovered yet, and the treatment regimen for flu patients consisted of aspirin, fluids, and morphine or laudanum. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of patients, the nurses could barely keep up with the all the blood and bodily fluids produced by the sick and dying.
The Pandemic Flu of 1918 depressed the average life expectancy of adults in the US by almost 10 years. The graph below displays data from the years 1910 to 1960. Research on the Pandemic Flu of 1918 continues to the present day.