McKinley Won Hearts of All His Nurses
Wounded President at All Times Courteous and Responsive.
AN ADMIRABLE PATIENT
That Is the Opinion Unanimously Expressed by the Young Women Intrusted
with the Task of Attending to the Great Man’s Comfort.
In all that has been written of the
attempted assassination of the president, of the prompt action of
the detectives who disarmed his assailant, the skill of the surgeons
who performed the operations deemed necessary for the preservation
of the life of the nation’s chief executive, little has been said
of the part played by the nurses who had an important place in the
The trained nurse occupies much the
same place among women that the soldier does among men, and certainly
there is no profession in which women engage that requires more
courage and fortitude, as well as care and precision and obedience
to orders, as nursing.
The nurses who were on duty in the
emergency hospital on the exposition grounds when President McKinley
was carried in on the day that he was so seriously wounded, 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
Miss Walters has had several years’
experience in surgical nursing. She was five years in the General
Memorial Hospital in New York, two and one-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
“They worked well, every one of them,”
said Miss Walters, 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
“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 [sic]
“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.
“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 [?] in a rather distrustful sort of way and asked me
what it was. Most people dislike them so,” she remarked by way of
explanation to the reporter. “When I told him what it was he said
‘All right,’ very quietly but pleasantly.”
“He was the most admirable patient
I ever saw,” chimed in Miss Barnes, as she joined the group. “We’re
Canadians, Miss Morris and I, and we don’t have any of the patriotic
enthusiasm that you have for him as president of the United States,
but I can tell you that he was the finest man I ever saw. 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.
“We counted his pulse every [?] minutes
all night and, of course, that kept us at his side almost continuously.
And once,” said Miss Barnes, smiling, “the president of the United
States had his arm around my waist and I didn’t take it away. I
just let it stay there! He was throwing his arms about as he came
out from the influence of the anesthetic,” she added.
“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 [?]ring 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. Someone said it was about 7:[?]0 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.”
While the two nurses conversed freely
of the incidents connected with the operation and the stay at the
Milburn home on Friday night, they conscientiously refrained from
mentioning anything pertaining to the medical status of the case.
“I suppose people think we are horrid,”
said Miss Morris, “because we won’t tell them all about the operation,
but we are no more at liberty to discuss this case than any other.
People come in here and ask us to let them touch the table where
the president was operated upon. Of course, they are at liberty
to inspect the hospital now, as they were before. They ask all manner
of funny questions. Some of them we can answer and some of them