Publication information
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Source: Democrat and Chronicle
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “McKinley Won Hearts of All His Nurses”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Rochester, New York
Date of publication: 15 September 1901
Volume number: none
Issue number: none
Pagination: 15

“McKinley Won Hearts of All His Nurses.” Democrat and Chronicle 15 Sept. 1901: p. 15.
full text
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); Pan-American Exposition (emergency hospital: curiosity seekers).
Named persons
Mary D. Barnes; Rose Baron; Elizabeth Dorchester; William McKinley; Margaret Morris; Mary Shannon; Katherine Simmons; Adella Walters; Eugene Wasdin.


McKinley Won Hearts of All His Nurses


Wounded President at All Times Courteous and Responsive.
That Is the Opinion Unanimously Expressed by the Young Women Intrusted [sic]
with the Task of Attending to the Great Man’s Comfort.
Buffalo Express.

     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 sad [drama?].
     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 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 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 for Nurses.
     “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 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 [sic] 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.
     “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 we can’t.”



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