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Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation

 

Medical staff attend to patients in an emergency hospital set up in Camp Funston, Kansas, during the influenza epidemic, circa 1918.
Courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

History has a way of repeating itself, yet so often we fail to pay attention to lessons learned. A colleague recently shared an article from the Douglas Island News and if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was recently printed. In actuality, it is from November 15, 1918 in response to influenza prevention. The article shared Do’s and Don’ts as listed below.

“1. Wear a mask.

2. Live a clean, healthy life.



3. Keep the pores open — that is bathe frequently.

4. Wash your hands before each meal.



5. Live in an abundance of fresh air, day and night.

6. Keep warm.

7. Get plenty of sleep.

8. Gargle frequently (and always after having been out) with a solution of salt in water (half teaspoon of salt to one glass — eight ounces of water).

9. Report early symptoms to the doctor at once.

10. Respect the quarantine regulations.

11. Avoid crowds. You can get the influenza only by being near someone who is infected.

12. Do not neglect your mask.

13. Do not neglect the advice of a specialist just because you do not understand.

14. Do not disregard the rights of a community — obey cheerfully the rules issued by the authorities.

15. Do not think you are entitled to special privileges.

16. Do not go near other people if you have a cold or fever — you may expose them to the influenza and death. See the doctor.

17. Do not think it is impossible for you to get or transmit influenza.

18. Keep your hands out of your mouth.

19. Do not cough or sneeze in the open.

20. Do not use a public towel or drinking cup.

21. Do not visit the sick or handle articles from the sick room.

22. DON’T WORRY.“

There is so much in this list that resonates with what we are experiencing today. Something not included is that the 1918 flu also impacted the mental health of many people. People seeking treatment for depression rose sharply. Suicide rates also rose from 1919 to 1922.

Today, as then, there was controversy over wearing masks and over school closures. There was push back against government enforcement and public health rules. There will always be people who choose to vaccinate and those who are adamantly opposed to it.

However, this is the first global pandemic of the digital age. A time when information came from all directions, and a time when people weighed what they read online against science and the advice of their physician. We are in a new age, yet interestingly enough, it is another example of history repeating itself.


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