In July, the nurses were put into Santo Tomas Internment Camp (STIC) in Manila. Santo Tomas became a POW city of roughly 6,000 people. The nurses helped to establish Santa Catalina Hospital on the grounds of the camp. They helped to stem epidemics in the overcrowded camp, organizing a public health campaign in the most unsanitary conditions. The nurses treated patients with minimal supplies in spartan conditions for accidents, disease, and malnutrition. The weight loss due to starvation in the camps averaged around 32 percent of an individual’s body weight. The American nurse POWs were not just waiting to be liberated, they were fighting to survive and to ensure the survival of others. All 77 survived until liberation by American forces. The Army nurses were liberated from Santo Tomas in early February and the Navy Nurses, who had been moved to Los Banos Internment Camp, were liberated three weeks later.
The Army Nurse Corps leadership is largely credited with their group’s survival. Chief Nurse Capt. Maude C. Davison was 57 years old at capture with decades of service experience, including during World War I. Second in command was the 47-year-old LT. Josie Nesbit. Under Davison and Nesbit’s command, the nurses maintained a regular schedule of nursing duty while prisoners of war. They had routine daily four-hour shifts, giving them purpose and a reason to survive. In 2001, Maude Davison was posthumously granted the Distinguished Service Medal.