Source: Trained Nurse and Hospital Review
Source type: journal
Document type: article
Document title: “An Interview with the President’s Nurses”
Date of publication: October 1901
Volume number: 27
Issue number: 4
|“An Interview with the President’s Nurses.” Trained Nurse and Hospital Review Oct. 1901 v27n4: pp. 222-23.|
|McKinley nurses; William McKinley (medical care); Adella Walters; Adella Walters (public statements); Margaret Morris (public statements); William McKinley (activity, conversations, etc. during recovery); Mary D. Barnes (public statements); William McKinley (medical condition).|
|Mary D. Barnes; Rose Baron; Elizabeth Dorchester; William McKinley; Margaret Morris; Mary Shannon; Katherine Simmons; Adella Walters [misspelled once below]; Eugene Wasdin.|
|The article is accompanied on page 223 with a photograph captioned as follows: “Miss Walters, Supt. Pan-American Hospital, and Nurses.”|
An Interview with the President’s Nurses
The following from The Buffalo Express must be of interest to all our
The nurses who were on duty in the Emergency Hospital on the Exposition grounds when President McKinley was carried in are just beginning to realize that they performed an active part in an event that is of international importance and one that will be a matter of history.
Miss Walters, the superintendent of the hospital, who was graduated from the Buffalo General Hospital Training School in the class of 1890, was at her post, and Miss Morris and Miss Barnes were the nurses on duty when the distinguished patient was brought in. The other nurses, Miss Simmons, Miss Dorchester, Miss Baron and Miss Shannon, arrived soon after and assisted at the operation.
Miss Walters has had several years’ experience in surgical nursing. She was five years in the General Memorial Hospital in New York, two and a half years of that period being the directress of nurses.
Miss Simmons graduated last April from the training school of the Roosevelt Hospital in New York.
Miss Dorchester is a graduate of the Buffalo General Hospital Training School. Miss Baron received her training in the Long Island College Hospital Training School and Miss Shannon is a graduate of the Cincinnati Hospital Training School for Nurses.
“They worked well, every one of them,” said Miss Walter, in discussing the eventful afternoon. “I got all the things needed for the operation, for none of the nurses are so familiar with the places where the needed articles are kept as I, since the nurses change every month. Miss Simmons and Miss Barnes were the nurses who came in direct contact with the patient during the operation. They handled the instruments and dressings, etc., and they were the ones who prepared the President for the operation, Miss Simmons standing at the head of the table, fanning him.
“Miss Simmons and Miss Barnes were the nurses who went from here to the Milburn home and took care of the President during the first night.”
In the spotless little operating-room off of the main hall on the first floor of the hospital, Miss Morris and Miss Barnes told the story of the service to President McKinley.
“They brought him right here from the ambulance,” said Miss Morris, placing her hand on the operating table, “and did not even lift him to remove the stretcher during the operation. I stood here and Miss Simmons stood over there,” indicating the opposite side of the table, “and Dr. Wasdin gave the anesthetic there,” pointing to the white-enameled stool at the head of the operating table.
“He was the most admirable patient I ever saw,” said Miss Barnes, as she joined the group.
“When we were taking care of him that first night, sick as he was, there was not the slightest service performed for him that he did not recognize in some way. If he could not speak he would just give a little ’umph-humph, just to let us know that he noticed what we were doing for him. 
“I had no idea it was the President who was to be operated upon, when Miss Walters told me to get a hypodermic of morphia and strychnia. I looked at the face of the man on the table and said to myself: ‘That looks like the President,’ but it was some little time before I was quite sure about it.
“When I went to give the hypodermic he looked at it in a rather distrustful sort of way and asked me what it was. When I told him what it was he said ‘All right,’ very quietly, but pleasantly.”
“We counted his pulse every five minutes all night, and, of course, that kept us at his side almost continuously.
“It was so pathetic,” said Miss Morris, “when he was on the table before the anesthetic was given. He seemed to feel so badly that anyone should shoot him because of a personal hatred. That seemed to be the thought that pained him most. He lay there, so white and still, never uttering a complaint, and seemed to be trying to comprehend what prompted his assailant to the deed.
“Once he said gently: ‘He didn’t know, poor fellow, what he was doing. He couldn’t have known.’”
“We had a rather exciting time going down to the Milburn house,” said Miss Barnes. “The automobile broke down and we were delayed. I don’t know what time it was when we got there. Some one said it was about 7.30 o’clock, but I lost all track of the time. What surprised me when we arrived was the utter stillness of the house. There wasn’t a person in sight who wasn’t needed and there was not a sound any place. Owing to the guard stationed about the house there was not a sound from the outside, save the chirping of the crickets. It was a hard night for us, for we had been up all day previously and we had a great deal to do. We had no orderlies to help us.”