Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #218

…Upon leaving Orange County California Judith is faced with one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles…

Rocky Mountain Railroad Excursion by Howard Fogg

The three day return trip is doubly melancholy for Judith Eastman; she leaves something behind and she doesn’t know what to expect when she gets home, having been gone over three weeks. She stares blankly out her window during the day, tosses and turns in her Pullman at night. Reality has indeed settled in.

If she were in a taxicab, she could tell the driver to step on it, but a train has its own plodding pace, 60 mph, downhill, full throttle. And sure as there is a downhill, there is an uphill to match. Upon leaving Orange County California you discover one big uphill named the Rocky Mountains; sea level to fifteen thousand feet in a matter of 200 miles. At the highest elevations, snow has taken over the mountain peaks, very pretty indeed, but two months from now, passage over the mountains is touch and go. Even a thousand horsepower has trouble with four feet of fresh fallen snow.

But once you have passed the Nevada Territory, the leeward deserts and wasteland, the locomotive is faced with a thousand miles of seemingly level terrain. Of course the quality of sight-seeing goes downhill with the land, with nothing but endless waves of windblown prairie grasses. Throw in the occasional bison and a rodent hunting hawk for every acre, you have the American heartland in a nutshell.

  Judith just stares past it all, homesick and alone.

Rocky Mountain Steam Train by Max Jacquiard

What she finds at home will not comfort her.

“Harv is very sick,” tells brother, George Eastman, wearing a surgeon’s mask who greets her along with her old dog.

“Hello, Frisky,” she acknowledges her faithful pet. “Sick? Where? Paris?”

“No, he came home four days after you left, seemed fine and sorely happy to be back, even worked at the office for a couple of weeks.” George gathers the courage he will need. “Then that damned flu hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed, after the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pearson Eastman Journal-001

Episode #218


page 205

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Contents 5-2016

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

…the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will…

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During a day of work in early September at Florida A&M Hospital, an institution that he has helped to grow, from modest beginnings to respectability, A.O. attends a staff meeting concerning the sudden outbreak of influenza. Miss Virginia Hilyer supervises a stable of promising young doctors at this mostly black college facility and she is determined to get a handle on the cause of this spreading calamity, utilizing research labs to isolate what they think is an offending bacteria.

She says there is reason for alarm. Not only is this strain deadly, but it kills in a single day, taking down those considered the strongest, vital men and women in their 20’s. It has migrated out of the Orient, as do most flues, making a devastating stopover in Spain, leaving but a small percentage of its population untouched, before making port at Boston in late August. It seems that the increased coming and goings across the Big Pond, with the war as the cause, has

provided the disease a virulent conduit… and it is spreading like a wildfire in the jack pine forests native to the Florida panhandle; tinder dry underbrush feeding sappy needles, fanned by Gulf breezes.

      “We are seein’ our first cases already and I’m not takin’ any chances. We are closing off the top floor. It will serve as an isolation ward for the whole county. I lost my mother to the plague in 1914 and I won’t be repeating New Orleans’ arrogant mistakes!” Miss Jennie, as she is known, is also on staff as one of the top career nurses in the nation, dedicated to the care of others, even to the expense of her own personal life.

       No better example for a young physician than she; listen, attend, heal are her watchwords. And do not think that any of these qualities is lost on A.O. Campbell, who grew up watching the sternly skilled hands of Doc Ziggy work minor wonders, forever laced with compassion and kindness.

          Before the sun can reach its zenith and much to Campbell’s dismay, two of the first admissions to the isolation ward are familiar to him, one ill leading the other for care. His mother-in-law and his mentor look as though they’ve been to hell and back, sweating bullets on a cool-ish late summer day.

“I’ll be caring for them, Miss Jennie—my kinfolk and such—that’s if you don’t mind?”

There is gravity to the request. “You may have to stay with them until it’s over,” she informs him, as they are led to the electric elevator, too delirious to recognize A.O.

“I’ll have them good as new in a day or so,” he thinks.

“I don’t think you understand. Them means all of them, two or two thousand. Once you are exposed, we can’t have you infecting the rest of Leon County.”

He hesitates for a moment, staring the subtle hazards of epidemic straight in the eye. It is staring back at him.

  “Would you please go to my house and tell my Maggie that her mother and Ziggy are here and I’ll be caring for them… and anyone else who is struck down.” He has made up his mind. “Tell her not to go out of the house with the baby.”

“That is sound advice Doctor Campbell, somethin’ the whole world should do, but I have a feelin’ the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Self Portrait With Spanish Flu 1919 by Edvard Munch

Episode #208


page 196

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Contents 2-3-16

1918 Spanish Influenza –THE LIFE & TIMES OF A BLACK SOUTHERN DOCTOR — (End Chapter 11 Balance of Power)

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What she finds at home will not comfort her.

____The Life and Times of a Black Southern Doctor                                                                                        239

001

“Harv is very sick,” tells brother, George Eastman, wearing a surgeon’s mask who greets her along with her old dog.

“Hello, Frisky,” she acknowledges her faithful pet. “Sick? Where?
Paris?”

“No, he came home four days after you left, seemed fine and
sorely happy to be back, even worked at the office for a couple
of weeks.” George gathers the courage he will need. “Then that
damned flue hit him from out of nowhere. I found him in bed when
the magazine called me wondering if I had seen him.”

“And I was across the country, oh what kind of wife can I be!?” She
is distraught. “Why didn’t he let us know he was coming home . . . .
I would not have gone away.”

“He is upstairs. The hospitals are full. Here, put this on, we don’t
need anyone else sick.” He hands her a mask.

“Is it that bad? I mean if the hospitals are full, that would be
thousands.”

“Didn’t you read the papers in California?” George asks like she
came from another planet.

“No, had no time, just heard talk of us winning some big battles
in Europe.”

“11,000 dead in Philadelphia alone.”

A picture of people giving treatment to an influenza patient during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

She hangs her head. “That is why the streets are deserted, isn’t
it?”

“People are afraid to talk to anybody. And poor Harv, he was
shaken badly when he came home, only ten men survived on the
Navy ship he crossed the ocean in. He was putting together a story
when it got him.”

“Oh, my God—I want to see him,” she rushes to his side.

“You may not recognize him, lost a lot of weight, and he sleeps
all day, it’s all I can do to get him to take in fluids, but I think he’s
getting a little better.” George Eastman, the inventor of the Kodak
camera, a captain of the photographic industry, reduces himself to
nursemaid, helping his brother-in-law cling to life. “The good news is
that he has made it past the first day. Most people who die go fast,
mostly younger too.”

George Eastman

“He’s got a strong heart . . . . oh, Harv I am so sorry I wasn’t
here for you, can you ever forgive me?” She kneels beside their bed,
sobbing, not expecting an answer.

____240 Gwendolyn Hoff

“Do you think I would die without being able to ask my partner
why she abandoned our magazine, to be a movie star no less?” Harv
Pearson’s speech is slow, but lucid.

“I can’t hug you yet, you rascal, but when I can, look out.” She
looks back at George, mouthing a hearty, ‘thank you’.

Alarming Flu Statistcs

The Spanish influenza leaves as quickly as it had struck, erasing
thirty million lives along the way, in time to allow dancing in the
streets when the Armistice is signed and the Great War ends on
November 11th.

The balance of power has shifted . . . . for now.

History (Wikipedia)

The close quarters and massive troop movements of World War I hastened the pandemic and probably both increased transmission and augmented mutation; the war may also have increased the lethality of the virus. Some speculate the soldiers’ immune systems were weakened by malnourishment, as well as the stresses of combat and chemical attacks, increasing their susceptibility.[13]
Academic Andrew Price-Smith has made the controversial argument that the virus helped tip the balance of power in the later days of the war towards the Allied cause. He provides data that the viral waves hit the Central Powers before they hit the Allied powers, and that both morbidity and mortality in Germany and Austria were considerably higher than in Britain and France.[14]
A large factor in the worldwide occurrence of this flu was increased travel. Modern transportation systems made it easier for soldiers, sailors, and civilian travelers to spread the disease.[15]
In the United States, the disease was first observed in Haskell County, Kansas, in January 1918, prompting local doctor Loring Miner to warn the U.S. Public Health Service’s academic journal. On 4 March 1918, company cook Albert Gitchell reported sick at Fort Riley, Kansas. By noon on 11 March 1918, over 100 soldiers were in the hospital.[16] Within days, 522 men at the camp had reported sick.[17]By 11 March 1918 the virus had reached Queens, New York.[18]
In August 1918, a more virulent strain appeared simultaneously in Brest, Brittany-France, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and in the U.S. in Boston, Massachusetts. The Allies of World War I came to call it the Spanish flu, primarily because the pandemic received greater press attention after it moved from France to Spain in November 1918. Spain was not involved in the war and had not imposed wartime censorship.[19]

Quarantined Ship — LATOBSD (Ch 11 pg. 234)

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Quarantined Ship

Troop Ship

Time to change the subject. “What do you think about some medical experts’ assertion that troop and transport ships are to blame for the outbreak of Spanish influenza?”

“What do I think? As far as I can see, we are damned if we
do or damned if we don’t. If we don’t have a million American
troops at Argonne, we are not going home right now.” He speaks

____234 Gwendolyn Hoff

about an enemy more invisible than the submarine. “I would avoid
interviewing the crew. Keep you distance if you do.”

“Good advice. I hear that it kills a person in one day; that’s pretty
scary.”

“We have twenty sailors in sick bay, as we speak. I’m told they
are bad off.” He takes off his cap, running his hands through his
graying hair. “And we are only a day out to sea.”

“It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to
keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests.

“Did you hear that crewman?” he speaks to the helmsman. “Make
an announcement over the loudspeaker. Everyone is to be confined
to their deck and avoid physical contact with each other. We will
figure what to do about the mess hall later.

“Do you have an idea on how to handle the mess hall, to feed
200 men, scattered all over this boat?” All suggestions would be
welcomed.

“Are there any crewmen who have successfully recovered from
the influenza?”

“Two, I believe, but I don’t think they want to get sick again.”

“That is the idea. They can’t.” Rear Admiral Sims looks at Harv
like he has lost his mind. “No really, we did an article on disease
specialists and one of the things they were working on was figuring
out, why once a parson has contracted an illness that they seem to be
immune from getting sick from that same disease.”

“I see, so they can mingle with the crew!” He gets it. “You would make a great officer, Pearson.”

“I am a little too old to join the Navy.”

“That may be true, but I lost my First Officer to the sickness and I
am hereby appointing you second in command.”

“I’m not very fond of uniforms, no offence intended.”

“Since we are going to spend the next eight days on the bridge, I
am going to need your help, if you are wearing a uniform or not.”

 

Quarantined Ship