Nursing Voices

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hospital Haunts

Photo: Hospital Ghost by Dionizije

Did you know that nurses witness “unusual” occurrences that they rarely talk about with others? They won’t discuss these events because they are afraid you won’t believe them, or you’ll think them mad. At the risk of sounding crazy, I’ll let you in on a secret. I believe in ghosts, and a lot of other doctors and nurses do, too.

When I was a young girl, I went to nursing school at a very old hospital in the Midwest. The hospital celebrated it’s centennial the year I entered its nursing program, and I worked the evening shift on the weekends as a nurses aid to help pay for my education. I worked under three veteran nurses; Lilly, Norma, and Ruby. They were “old school nurses,” and they had seen it all. One night while I was charting vital signs at the nurse’s station, a call light came on at the end of the hallway, but the room was empty. Lilly looked up and said, “Girls, she’s at it again.” “Who’s at it again?” I asked. The three nurses quietly looked at me and at each other before Norma broke the silence. She asked, “Do you believe in ghosts?”

Norma told me that an old woman had died in that room years ago, and that she didn’t know that she was dead. Each of the nurses said that they had seen her spirit walking the halls, and that the call light started lighting up whenever she was restless. Ruby added that this sort of thing isn’t unusual, especially in old hospitals. She told me that while death is a part of life, not everyone is willing or able to leave the earth after they die. She also told me that I could expect to see supernatural things during my nursing career. Fortunately, our ghostly patient calmed down, and there was no further activity in the empty room that night.

After I graduated from nursing school, I moved to a new town and settled into a job working as a med-surg nurse. One of my favorite patients was a young woman name Dixie. She had multiple surgeries during her hospitalization, and I had been her primary care nurse during her extended stay at the hospital. The night before she was supposed to go home, Dixie called me into her room. She asked me to escort the woman who was sitting in the chair by her bed back to her own room. The chair was empty. Dixie was adamant that an old woman wearing a black dress was in the chair, and that the woman was telling her “she had come for her.” I went to the desk and called the surgeon. I prayed he didn’t think I was nuts when I told him that Dixie was having a conversation with the Angel of Death in her room. He didn’t question me, and said that he would be right in. When the doctor arrived on the unit, Dixie started bleeding internally and went into shock. Fortunately, she survived surgery and was discharged from the hospital several weeks later. Dixie’s surgeon told me later that he also believed in the Angel of Death.

Every nurse has a story. Check out these links for more hospital ghost stories.

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps

Hospital Ghost

The Operating Room

A spooktackular guide to some ghostly fun around town


Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

Creepy stuff.

Thanks a lot, MJ, I'll be looking over my shoulder and around corners the rest of the day.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Iris said...

Hey MJ,

I worked on the Burn/Trauma/Surgery Unit at the Royal University Hospital for about a year. Most of the time the actual "burn unit" part of the wing because we didn't have a lot of burns. The staff talked about a ghost that lived in there. They said it was the ghost of a nurse who had, ironically, died on the unit after being burned herself. Her picture and a plaque hung on the walls of the abandonned unit. We would know she was bored and wanted attention when the call bells on all 4 sub-units would ring simultaneously and the number on the display read all zeros. It was creepy.....and maintenance said there was nothing wrong with the call system.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

Scary post there!

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

scary,creepy, but many of us have had similar experiences...always informative, MJ,
Cheeres, Cyndy

3:14 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

I went to an "old" nursing school attached to an old hospital. I heard the ghost moving chem lab stools in the lab above my dorm room, at 11:35 pm at night. I heard it with my own ears--before I knew there was a ghost. Later, I overheard the story and my hair stood on end. Apparently, it was an old nursing school instructor. In the old days when the chem lab was the "nutrition kitchen", the girls heard nosies from up there too---and once and they smelled hot coffee at night when kitchen was locked---just like when I heard the chem lab stools moving at night when the lab was locked..... And sometimes, the oncoming day shift nurses in the hospital would find their pre-op patients mysteriously already bathed and gowned, ready for surgery, stating that "the old-fashioned dressed nurse came and did it"....

7:12 PM  
Blogger Bohemian Road Nurse... said...

(Sorry!...I got so scared telling the story that I made a bunch of typos...yikes!)

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Sean said...

You have amazing timing! I was thinking about writing a post about hospital ghosts! :)

You beat me to it!

Anyway...we have been sharing ghost stories on my unit lately, which is why the topic has been on my mind. In fact, it's one of our favorite topics...particularly, of course, on the night shift.


7:26 PM  
Blogger Digi Rebel said...

Oh yea, without a doubt nurses and doctors believe in ghosts. First time I heard about them was in nursing school, my instructor talked about one(I wasn't too sure about her then), but after going to work on the med floor of large hospital midwest I can honestly say,"I do believe". Her name is Cora and you can ask anyone there about her...

9:56 PM  
Blogger Smalltown RN said...

Oh i got shivers reading that. We have our resident ghost on my unit. The call bell going off in a room that we don't use, doors coming open when there is no one in the room..stuff like that. In another hospital that I worked in we swore there was a patient that use to walk the halls.

When I worked Palliative I worked with nurses who would open the windows in the patients room when they had died so their spirit could leave. Creepy. Why does it always happen on nightshifts that we see or hear something....

Yes nurses have all kinds of stories.

4:02 AM  
Anonymous Kaliki said...

Sure, nurses and doctors belileve in ghosts. I am a hospice nurse, and have experienced the call bell going off with no one there. My favorite experiences are with dying patients who talk about all the people who are in the room, tell us what they are saying. One man told me his dog of 25 years ago was there to help him across the veil. Oh, yeah, I could write a book

8:21 AM  
Blogger Lea said...

I love this stuff!

11:10 AM  
Blogger SQT said...

I think hospitals would be home to many ghosts, sadly, there's a lot of death there.

My in-laws collect antiques and they bought a baby crib. Several family members heard a baby crying at night not long after they brought the crib home. Creepy!

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when I was a nurses aide, we had this little lady named "Miss Ruth"(not her real name but it will do). Miss Ruth loved to go sit on the patio and sun herself every day if it was warm and clear. Miss Ruth lived to be 94 years old, and died in her sleep of a massive heart attack. Well, we were devastated because she was one of our absolute favorites. A few days after her death, we were in the dining room holding a meeting when suddenly the open patio door slammed(there was no sign of wind anywhere). We all looked at each other and said, "That's nobody but Miss Ruth!" Somehow, that slamming door made us feel much better. She was still around in spirit.

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Spirit of 1976 said...

In my area, an old seaman's hospital is being renovated to become the new offices for two community mental health teams and the crisis resolution team.

Recently they had to stop the renovations for a day and send in a spiritualist medium along with some of the senior nurses, as the builders kept complaining of ghostly occurences.

Some might suggest that this was the builders' way of getting an extra tea break, but believe what you will.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Deacon Barry said...

I'm a skeptic. I think ghosts are internally generated hallucinations triggered by anomolous sounds and lighting effects.
Saying that, the Eye Pavilion is reputed to have a ghost on the fourth floor. We're up there now while the ward is being refurbished. It'll be interesting to see if anybody's reported any strange happenings while I've been away.

7:00 AM  
Blogger LJG aka Pennsylvania Independent said...

Ghosts and spirits do exist indeed, because I have made devout non-believers into belivers in matter of a few minutes.
My great-aunt's home is haunted by the spirit of my great-grandmother. Everyone in my immediate family has been a ghostly appartion of her, but the odd thing is that she only has tried making contact with two of us, only my great-aunt and myself.
One day while visiting my great-aunt shortly after having my carpal tunnel surgery, which was in the summer of 2002, I heard my name being called by a voice that sounded like my great-grandmother's.
Not only did I hear it, my great-aunt heard it and said to me "I think your great-grandmother knows that you are here." I was her only great-grandson and basically was her favorite. I was only five years old when she passed away, but I do remember her quite well. I remember her always giving me candy bars and other special treats.

12:33 AM  
Blogger just4ofus said...

On night shift I always walked quickly/ran through the deserted parts of the hospital. On day shift on day, I had a what I thought to be confused elderly woman. She told me the person in the chair wanted to take her in the elevator to go home. I dismissed it to confusion. She told me she didn't want to go home.
I moved on. 2 hours later.. she died. I guess she accepted the invitation for an elevator ride.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous danielle said...

Yep, they are out there alright. A colleague of mine, young woman whose whole life was nursing, died a few years ago of ovarian cancer. For the first three anniversaries after her death, she was at work...and at other times too. In fact, I think she was in the car with me on the way to work the other day...which turned out to be the anniverary week of her death.

And another unit - the charge nurse who had been there since forever. She has been seen by MDs and RNs over the years since she died one year after retirement.

Dedication doesnt go away even after death.

7:23 PM  

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