An RN’s tale: Our little hospital ghost

Image: Hemera | Thinkstock

It was 11:30 p.m. on a rainy Friday night. I had just given in to my scheduler’s pleas and agreed to cover a night shift in Pediatrics. The secretary looked up from her computer as I approached the nursing station. Then:

“You’re late,” sneered the charge nurse. Before I could answer, she shoved a packet of papers in my face.

My load was heavy. I had four patients all to myself, total care. One of them was a three-day-old, full-term infant male, born with gastroschisis and only one minimally functioning kidney, left to die in a room. I was only to provide supportive care: keep him comfortable until he passed. There was no family involved. The other three patients were fresh post-ops from earlier that day, all in the same room.

I was kicking myself for coming in. It was going to be a long night, but I needed the money. The poor gastroschisis baby was screaming a blood-curdling cry in his crib. To soothe him, I injected his prescribed morphine through his IV. He began to calm down and fall asleep. At least for now, he was out of his misery and quiet. I made sure his vital signs were normal and quickly went to assess my post-op patients across the hall.

Before I knew it, it was four o’clock in the morning and time to take the last vital signs for the shift. I was in the middle of changing an abdominal dressing when I heard the screeching cry again. The baby was awake and in pain; it had been three hours since his last pain med. Meanwhile, my other patient’s IV was beeping “occlusion.” How I hated that sound. Silently, I wished for some help.

Suddenly the baby’s crying ceased. I looked across the way to his room and saw someone hunched over his crib. Thankfully, one of the nurses stopped in to help. I finished the dressing change, cleared the occlusion and went to check on the baby.

“Hello?” I said into the room, but no one responded. The baby was smiling, staring at the ceiling. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I left the room and walked out to the nurses’ station, where the charge nurse was busy making the morning assignment.

“Did you medicate my baby with the gastroschisis?” I asked with a slight quiver in my voice.

“What?” she said, looking up from her papers with a frown.

“I saw someone in the room with the baby…was that you?” I urged.

“No, you must be seeing things!” she said, continuing on with her work.

Confused, I proceeded with closing my charts for the shift—until a mother of one of my patients approached me, disheveled and wide-eyed.

“There is a little girl walking around—did you see her?” she whispered.

“Um, no. Everyone seems to be asleep,” I assured her.

“I saw a little girl. She was skipping through the corridor by herself. I’m afraid she’ll get hurt!” she insisted. “She was wearing a little dress that went to her knees and some lacey socks with Mary Janes.”

“Okay, I’ll check into it.”

As she turned to leave, I asked the charge nurse if we had any little girl patients on the unit.

“No!” she scowled. “That mother is crazy!”

I decided to walk through the corridor myself to check.


Suddenly there was a squeaking noise, accompanied by footsteps! I sucked in my breath and jumped back, startled to see one of the cleaning ladies pushing her cart.

“Ay, dios mio!” she said as she grabbed her chest. She was equally startled.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” I breathed a sigh of relief. “I was looking for a little girl. Have you seen her?”

“Oh, si! Es la niña! The little girl!” she said with wide eyes. She didn’t speak much English.

“So, there is a little girl. Is she a patient?”

“Ay no, she no es real!” she stated. “Fantasma…es un ghost! La niña, she died five years ago. Cis…Cis febros…?” she shook her head, trying to say the word in English.

“Cystic fibrosis?” I said hesitantly.

“Uh-huh! Si, she was so beautiful, so happy, but no mama. The nurses were her mama! They give her dress, beautiful socks and shoes. She died here in that room. Pero, she no want to pass.”

“Pass?” I said, confused.

“Si, con El señor!” she stated as she did the sign of the cross, kissed her right hand and looked up to the ceiling. “She love the nurses!”

Suddenly, I heard my baby screeching again. He was awake and in pain.

“She like the baby.” The cleaning lady smiled as she looked down the hallway.

Worried, I ran to the baby’s room. My hands were shaking as I stood outside his door, listening. Silence. Slowly, I peered into the room. Hovering above the baby was a translucent figure. The early light peered through the window shade, illuminating the outline of a little girl wearing lacey socks and Mary Jane shoes.

The baby stared up at her, followed her with his eyes and smiled.

Captured? This cell phone picture was taken by a night nurse in Ersilia’s unit.


Ersilia Pompilio

Ersilia Pompilio has been a Registered Nurse in California for the past 14 years. She has specialized in Pediatrics, NICU, PICU and Postpartum. As an educator, she has taught nursing at three universities. Currently, she is working as a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner in a hospital setting. Creative writing has been a passion of hers, and she is currently working on a novel.

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14 Responses to An RN’s tale: Our little hospital ghost

  1. acey

    I’ve smelled and heard things. I’ve purposely kept myself closed off from seeing things. The picture you managed to capture is great!

  2. Space

    We have a ghost in our building, which is presently a free-standing Emergency Department. The ghost has appeared in period dress (of the early 1900’s) and likes to make noise. She appears mostly at night. Several of my coworkers have seen and/or heard her, though I have not. My coworkers who have had the ghost appear before them are no-nonsense people, not subject to whimsy. If they say she was there, I believe it!

  3. laura

    Amazing story…I’ve never seen anything and have worked the nightshift as an RN and before that, a phlebotomist ,for a few yrs now…not that I’m wanting to see anything because frankly, I don’t know what I’d do.

  4. Wise Old Owl

    We also had a ‘little girl’ in our Neuro ICU at a large urban hospital where I worked for about 9 years. She would appear to patients at night from time to time and was consistently described as ‘standing by my bed, wearing a white dress.’
    There was no event or patient with whom anyone could recall the initial appearance of the ‘little girl’ but she seemed to provide comfort to those who stated that they ‘saw her’.
    When we ‘moved’ the unit to another area to renovate the ‘little girl’ came with us, then returned to the ‘new’ unit.
    As far as I know, she is still around from time to time.

  5. Lena

    great story but I dont believe the picture much. there is an application on smart phones that add ghosts to the pictures, I have seen many like this one.

  6. Debi R LPN

    I have had a similar experince with a peds patient who was dying, I was his home health nurse, I was reading and out of the corner of my eye I saw a older lady dressed in a gingham type dress, when I asked my patient mom if she knew anyone who dressed that way she went and got a picture and showed it to me, I found out the lady I saw was the patients grandmother who had died a few years back…I felt at peace knowing who the lady was. I hve had a few experinces like that over the years as a nurse.

  7. Lisa

    Do three day old infants smile?

  8. I work in a nursing home. In the dementia wing of the nursing home, there lived a couple, where, of the whole unit, only the wife uses the buzzer. Unexpectedly, the wife passed away before the husband (she wasn’t as “far gone” as the husband). 2 months later, the husband has gone from someone who would sit in his room to someone who wanders around getting things all ready and made up for his wife – but outside of their room.

    While looking down their corridor one afternoon, the buzzer went off. I looked behind, and it said it came from Couple’s bedroom. Curious, as the husband has no clue as to how to operate a buzzer, I thought maybe he bumped it, since obviously no one has gone into their room since I started work and has been looking and walking up and down that corridor.

    I went in, and there was NO ONE in the room. the husband was next door making beds for the ladies in there. the buzzer, in the mean time, was nicely curled up and hanging off the top of the bed head on his wife’s now-empty and neat bed.

    I shivered a little, called the husband back into their rooms, and left.

  9. Kristen Park

    I have never seen a ghost, but as a long time critical care nurse I can say for sure that Jesus comes to visit the most ill. And if they tell you they saw him, it is likely they will die in the next 24 hours.

  10. Renea

    I have never seen her but the hospital that I work in has a ghost. She was the mother of 3 children who dies unexpectedly at the hospital. She was discribed as a beautiful lady with long red hair. Many of our patients as well as our nurses have seen her rocking in a chair in a pediatric room or leaning over a crib of a baby that was in the hospital. One of the night nurses said that she had even walked down the hallway and asked for something for one of the babies. Our department has moved to a new area of the hospital and another department has taken over where we were. I don’t know if she still wonders around or not, but I don’t go over there to see!!!

  11. kimmykins RN

    Ghost…or angel??? I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in angels!

  12. sparky406

    I believe in spirits or ghosts. I have heard foot steps and seen things in the closed circuit.v in the same area that weren’t there when I went to check it out in the same area where I heard the foot steps.