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Is your hospital unit haunted? Do you believe in ghosts?

Ghost in elderly care

iStockphoto + Scrubs

There is a tradition in some countries concerning the dead: When a person dies, the windows are opened to allow the spirit to vacate. What happens when windows aren’t open? Are the spirits trapped? I don’t know if all nurses are superstitious, but I’ve come to believe that some spirits never consider leaving this earth or are confused as to whether or not they have actually died.

In our facility, we have a few employees who’ve chosen to stay on even after death. Our long-term care and rehab unit cared for many former employees until their passing. While some of them departed to greener pastures far above the clouds, some have decided that they would maintain their place in our facility even after death.

There are numerous unexplainable happenings on our unit each week:

A nurse in a 1960s starched white uniform, complete with cap and white shoes, appears when a patient is on the verge of death or struggling to stay alive. We feel that she is summoning us to check on our patients. There is also a maintenance man in the facility’s green uniform who visits the rooms that he occupied until his passing.

In the evening, lights and water faucets turn on and off by themselves until a staff member yells, “Cut it out!” On other units, monitors can be heard in empty rooms, and a white vapor in the shape of a skirt floats around corners in a hallway outside of patients’ rooms.

Some of these visitors keep patients awake, while some keep vigil. Nurses have also reported entering well-lit rooms only to have the lights go out, or discovering that unlocked doors suddenly won’t open. One nurse reported finding a quadriplegic patient turned, with pillows tucked behind him, without anyone being in or near the room.

Weird, huh? Not so strange if you can blame it on a spirit who didn’t have an open window to vacate through. So the next time you hear a bump in the night at your facility, it may be a past/passed employee forgetting to punch out on his or her final day of life. At least…that’s what I believe.

Happy Halloween!

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Candace Finch, BSN, RN

Candace Finch, BSN, RN is an orthopedic and bariatric nurse. Candace began her nursing career after the age of 40 and recently completed her BSN from Empire State College Distance Learning. She is a firm believer that it is never too late to reinvent yourself. As a mother of two children with Type 1 Diabetes, she has learned that whatever God gives you can be used to benefits others. She enjoys quiet time with her husband and family, reading non-fiction books, listening to contemporary Christian music and traveling with her daughter to Disney World.
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