Throng at Smallpox Case

Kansas City Sta/February 18, 1918

While the chauffeur and male nurse on the city ambulance devoted to the carrying of smallpox cases drove from the General Hospital to the municipal garage on the North Side today to have engine trouble “fixed” a man, his face and hands covered with smallpox pustules, lay in one of the entrances to the Union Station. One hour and fifteen minutes after having been given the call the chauffeur and nurse reported at the hospital with the man, G.T. Brewer, 926 West Forty-second Street. The ambulance had been repaired.
Behind that vehicle was an ambulance from the Emergency Hospital, ordered to get the patient by Dr. James Tyree, in charge of contagious diseases, after repeated calls from the station.

Brewer, a life insurance agent, arrived from Cherryvale, Kas., this morning. At 9 o’clock James McManus, officer in charge of the police station at the depot, found him lying in the west entrance to the lobby. Streams of persons, hurrying past, eddied about Brewer while solicitous passersby asked the trouble. At 9:50 McManus placed a policeman near the sick man to keep persons away.

McManus says he called the contagious department of the hospital immediately after finding Brewer. An ambulance was promised. Two calls were sent the hospital later and each time, so McManus says, he was told the ambulance was on the way. Doctor Tyree once insisted McManus take the sick man into the police office there, but McManus refused, saying more persons would be exposed. Doctor Tyree also said the ambulance would be there “right away.”

When the ambulance did reach the station at 10:15, the driver explained it had been broken down while out on another call.

Doctor Tyree explained later that the regular sick ambulance, No. 90, was wrecked last night. When the call first was received at the receiving ward of the General Hospital at 9:05 o’clock ambulance No. 92, the smallpox carrier, was dispatched, he said.

“But the ambulance had motor trouble,” Doctor Tyree continued. “The chauffeur and the male nurse in charge decided to go to the municipal garage and get the trouble fixed.”

The garage, on the North Side, is about as far from the hospital as the distance from the hospital to the Union Station and return.

Doctor Tyree criticized the police for failure to remove Brewer to an isolated place instead of leaving him “where scores of travelers came in contact and were exposed to smallpox.”

(Source: Matthew J. Bruccoli: Ernest Hemingway, Cub Reporter. University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970.)