I'm posting about Base Hospital 46, one of the many hospital units organized around university and civilian hospitals prior to and in the early months of the US entry into the war. Phelps had the complicated and challenging task of recruiting nurses and female staff members (stenographers, dieticians and laboratory technicians) for the base hospital unit. Before the unit sailed for France in the summer of 1917 the Red Cross called for 50, then 65, then 100 nurses to staff the unit.
|"Prominent Figures in Base Hospital 46, Soon to See Service in France," Oregonian, March 17, 1918, Section 1, 14.|
The article that accompanied this image answered a question that I had about the unit -- just how did the projected size of Base Hospital Unit 46 compare with the size of hospitals in Portland at the time?
|"Base Hospital 46 Awaiting Its Call," Oregonian, March 17, 1918, Section 1, 14.|
The section titled, "The Nurses Trip Overseas," in Otis Wight et al, On Active Service with Base Hospital 46, 55-58 is not attributed to an author, but it appears that Grace Phelps authored it. She starts with a section that hints at some of the challenges she faced in recruitment.
|Otis Wight et al., On Active Service with Base Hospital 46 (Portland, OR: Arcady Press, 1920)|
It's important to note that Phelps addressed the question of finances here. In addition to raising funds for the unit discussed in a previous post, nurses were expected to furnish their own clothing and uniforms. Phelps was sensitive to this, writing here that "Many nurses who had family responsibilities found they could not meet this expense." The Portland chapter of the Red Cross assisted with these expenses, making it possible to meet the quota of nurses needed.
Phelps's concluding sentence in this section speaks volumes about the task but without the detail we crave: "Many and varied sad tales of the organization of the nursing personnel of our unit could be told, but we have learned to avoid sad stories." Additional research from the Phelps papers reveals some of these "sad tales" for staffing of nurses and female personnel, including a charge of espionage in one case, but I have to save some of the details for my upcoming book!
The Oregonian published a list of the basic professional requirements for nurses to serve in a base hospital unit (added to those Phelps discussed above). They reflect the growing professionalization of nursing education and licensing/registration by 1917, and we'll end with those today:
|"Red Cross Appeals to Nurses to Enroll for Duty," Oregonian, July 29, 1917, Section 3, 5.|