August 18, 1944
No. 41 (conclusion)
I’m sitting in our tent in a dustless field, between two small vineyards containing rather luscious red and green grapes. The owner of our present area, and very happy to have us here, is a French physician who has been enjoying himself making rounds in our wards and in surgery most of the day.
Have just finished a rather strenuous 24 hours working steadily from 10 P.M. to 2:30 A.M. last night and from 8:00 A.M. to 7:30 P.M. today. Last night I was giving anesthetics for most everyone and today only for Roy or Chuck. In fact, gave an intra-tracheal for Roy on a lung case today – the first I have given and ‘twas most successful.
I am anesthetist for our surgical team attached to this other Evac. And ‘tho I’m not at all keen on anesthesia, it has been more than worth it to come on this deal. We got some pretty good cases today and we actually did one-quarter of the cases done today.
We have realized the glaring differences between us and this outfit, which incidentally was the first Evac. Hospital set up and taking patients in Southern France — beating the others by 24 hours. They have a great deal less equipment than we do, and have a Colonel who is not regular Army, and who considers himself and staff primarily as doctors rather than Army puppets.
Another difference is that each department works together and there are not a whole bunch of potential bosses, all wanting their stuff done first or changing the ideas or orders of others as has happened in our unit. This place was set up and functioning in a matter of a few hours and they are a little more than half as large as we are. The big difference in surgery, the reason they handle so many patients in such a short time – is the fact that, except for belly cases, brain cases or a big chest case, they drape with nothing but a few hand towels and their cleaning of the patient before draping is considerably less than we are used to. But, of course, we’ve never had to rush like they do. It certainly isn’t that they’re better or faster surgeons, for they are not, but the time saved in lack of extensive drapes and super-cleaning of the areas not close to the wound, accounts for the rapid turnover they have in their surgery.
The men in this outfit are very nice, particularly their Chief of Surgery, Lt. Col. Frank Patterson. The average age is coincidentally older than in our gang, but despite that, we have 11 men who are members of the American Board of Surgery, while they have but 3 – that’s the way with most all these outfits. Ours is younger and better trained as a group.
Today’s another day, 7:15 A.M. – have already worked 2-1/2 hours this morning and just finished eating. We’re waiting for this operating room to be cleaned up, following the accumulation from the night’s work. This gang really gets the work to do! We’re enjoying it and Roy’s even champing at the bit because we have to wait this half an hour more.
Loads of love,
Watch for my next letter
August 20, 1944