Is your hospital…haunted?

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A lot of people claim to have seen ghosts in their lifetimes. Me, for instance: The house I grew up in was still inhabited by the man who built it. We all could hear him walking around, and my sister and I both saw him, as did a roommate of mine when I was a grown-up and had bought the place from my parents.

That was truly weird, but it’s a story for another time.

That said, I tend to scoff at ghosts I haven’t seen. I’m not a big believer in the idea that somebody’s personality would hang around long after they’re gone, and especially not in a hospital, for heaven’s sake. Why not go haunt a nice water park or a smoky bar, or even the backstage of a Broadway theater? You’d get a lot more pleasure out of it, and bar patrons and actors tend to be in the state to acknowledge you. (I don’t know about half-drowned, sunburned people.)

Everybody says that my unit is haunted. Years ago, it was the super-duper isolated, incredibly clean place where every patient with an immune disorder went. Eventually it was reworked into a unit specifically for chemo patients and those who’d had bone marrow transplants. Later, it became a neurocritical care unit. And every nurse who’s been in the building for more than 20 years swears up and down that it’s full of the ghosts of people who died there.

I haven’t seen anything. There was the day that a clock in the nurses’ station jumped off—and I mean jumped off—the wall, nearly beaning somebody sitting in a chair six feet away. That, though, does not a haunting make. Had it flown at a resident, I might’ve believed in ghostly influence. As it was, the clock aimed at one of the nicest people I know, who, incidentally, was pregnant at the time, and I can’t believe any haint would do that.

I’ve wanted to believe, though. When our beloved Joe died suddenly, we all wished we’d see his long white coat disappearing round a corner, just out of reach. It was a symptom of how illogical we all were that we thought he might show up, in death, at the place he’d done so much to avoid in life. Nobody has seen his shade yet, though almost a decade later, we still attribute all computer glitches and medication-machine slowdowns to him. He’s immortal, and he’s immortal in a way that does justice to his life.

Is your hospital haunted? Have you ever seen a ghost, or felt somebody’s spirit head out an open window after death? I’ve got a bunch of marshmallows toasting, so pull up a s’more and tell your story.

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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5 Responses to Is your hospital…haunted?

  1. RNHeather RN

    I used to be night charge nurse at a moderately sized LTC facility. I floated around four floors throughout the night, and helped out my seriously over-taxed CNAs whenever I could. One night, the fifth floor CNA called me in a panic and begged me to come upstairs IMMEDIATELY. Fearing the worst — a broken hip or a sun-downer’s resident thinking it was still WW2, I hurried up the stairs. Upon arrival, I found my normally sane CNA pale, shaky, and looking like a deer in the headlights. She pointed to the end of the hall and proceeded to tell me about the couple she had seen ballroom dancing down outside of the last room on the right. Uh huh…okaaaayy. She was spooked the rest of the night (and I admit, I figured she had maybe dozed off and dreamed it…) A few days later, the resident that lived in that room passed away and we had her memorial service in the chapel at the facility. It was lovely…flowers, mementos, and a huge poster board display of her life, capturing all the things she loved the most. At the center: A picture of her and her husband…ballroom dancing.

  2. psychrnbsn01

    Several in one of the hospitals I worked at…we were literally getting ready to close the doors because of funding issues and it was a small community hospital. They cleared a lot of patients out. So there were only two patients left on the unit and I worked on a locked psychiatric unit. I would have to unlock the doors for visitors and doctors who were not key staff on the unit. I had looked up because I saw a person in a black robe walking towards the unit door (I knew I hadn’t let any one on the unit) I checked with staff and security and no one had been let on or off the unit…shortly after there was a code blue on the medical floor. Apparently others have seen this figure before a code blue. Other things were right before this hospital built by the community for the community (several of the workers were killed when the walls collapsed during construction- read here it was a really old hospital) we were discussing how we hated to see it close and all of a sudden there was a gust of air and all the charts flew from the middle of my managers desk (she was doing chart audits, there were no air vents, and our windows did not open so no way to debunk it) and landed at our feet and then the fire alarm went off as well as a call button from the adjoining icu (which had long been closed and call bells were disconnected years ago). I don’t think the spirits were happy about the hospital they worked to build be shut down. There were numerous other things that occurred there.

  3. nursepat78 LPN

    I worked the night shift at a local hospital and the only LPN on the floor of 30 patients with a RN and two student LPN’s and a brand new CNA to our facility. The SPN’s had a total of four patients, one who was an old CVA, had a BKA and severe contractures including her mouth, open i might say. She was on bolus tube feedings every 2 hours. The young students gave her her 2 AM feeding and left to go to lunch and class to return at 4 AM. This poor lady was not expected to make it through the night. I checked her every 30 minutes and about 345 AM found that she had expired quietly. I had informed the RN who informed the doctor and got orders to move the body to the morgue. The students returned and got everything together for her 4 AM feeding went to room came back out and said she wasn’t breathing. I told them to call their instructor and let her know and if any other SPN’s needed post mortum care to send them down to our unit. The instructors sent 1 other SPN. They did a great job preparing the body and the male attendant came and we loaded the body on the morgue cart and I told the RN we were taking the body to the morgue and was taking the new CNA with us so the RN could listen for the lights. We arrive at the morgue and my supervisor handed me the keys to the lock. I unlocked the the door leaving the keys on the lock. We exchanged the empty morgue tray with the one with our dear patient. I closed the door, gave the keys to my supervisor and just as the lock clicked, we all heard a KNOCK KNOCK on the door and “LET ME OUT.” We all were in a state of shock and my supervisor ,who by the way was old as the hills, looked panic grabbed the keys from where she had tossed them and threw them at me and said ” you look” I tried to tell her the lady was dead but I heard what she heard. So I unlocked the door and went in poor lady was exactly where we left her. So once convinced my supervisor said Lock it up. Once again just as the lock clicked we again heard KNOCK KNOCK “LET ME OUT.” My supervisor was in a panic now, the male attendant had backed himself so far away, the poor SPN’s were frantic and well my new CNA i figured she would never come back to work with our facility again. My supervisor handed me a stethoscope and told me to check again. I tried my best to explain to her the condition of this poor woman but no she insisted she wasn’t dead. Finally after numerous polite ways I told her ” Believe me there is no way this lady hopped over here on one contracted leg and said anything when her mouth had not been closed in years and hop back and get on the morgue tray like we had her” She still insisted so I did check the lady out No breathing No heartbeat tells me she is in fact dead. She insisted that I check the little room out which I did Just a few body parts from surgery that day. So out I come and once again just as the lock clicked we hear it again KNOCK KNOCK “LET ME OUT” I have had it now thinking I am losing my mind but 6 other people were joining me on my ride to the loony bend. My supervisor has me check once again. Always the same the lady is dead and moved. My supervisor starts thinking one of us is doing this. She looks at me and said “I have known you long enough to know it isn’t you but one of you girls is doing this. Poor SPN’s really were frantic now. My supervisor told me to go call the instructors to come down and find out who was doing this, cause no one is leaving until we get to the bottom of things. So like a good nurse I went out the door and down the hall to the emergency room explained to my friend what was happening, I noticed a few giggles in the back but didn’t think too much of it, i probably would have laughed too thinking i had lost my mind, and I paged the instructors. They answered and I am explaining to her what has happened and the whole ER erupts in laughter with the security officer laughing the hardest of all. This security officer also worked part time in the lab drawing blood and he knew of the door opposite of the main door the one that opened to the autopsy room. He had seen us bring the body down and went in the lab and as soon as he heard the door close he came in and when he heard the lock click he was knocking and saying let me out. He didn’t have a clue who this poor lady was or her condition, he never thought about what he had done to my poor supervisor, i was scared she would have a coronary, he didn’t think of the impression he was making on the 3 SPN’s or the new CNA. Of course I told him off in words I cannot type here, please use your imagination as to what I said to him. It wasn’t nice or ladylike. The instructors made him apologize to the SPN’s. I made him apologize to the new CNA. He wasn’t happy about it but he did. He thought he would just be funny. Of course none of us thought it was funny at the time but now 30 some years later I think its a hoot. Oh yes this all took about an hour and 1/2. Poor RN never knew we had not returned and she was on the unit by herself, good thing it was quiet and no lights ringing as we returned shortly after 6 AM.. One of the SPN’s planned on eventually becoming a mortician he scared that right out of her. The new CNA did return to work with us for about a month then moved on to where her parents lived in another state. The security guard stayed a few months then left for the other local hospital to draw blood full time. My old as the hills supervisor continued to work a few more years til retirement. Me, I stayed for a total of 20 years. This is one of my most memorable times at that local hospital, and I still chuckle every time I think about that night.

  4. kfaustin18

    I work on a bone marrow transplant unit that is full of incredibly sick people right now. Last night while I was leaving my patients room I heard a blood curdling scream come from the pod I was in. My patient was the only on in that pod. When I went back to check on her she was laying in bed watching tv and perfectly fine. I went out to the nurses station to see if anyone else heard it and no one did, but as we were all standing there talking a scream and moan came from the same area. Our NA went and checked on every patient and everyone was sleeping. All of us were freaked out. I truly believe that hospitals are haunted.

  5. Richard Kelley

    I was working on a dementia unit in an AL facility, and with the way our pager system worked, if a resident needed assistance, they were to pick the phone up, and wait thirty seconds and it would ring our portable phones. Well one night after last rounds, the phones went off and me and the other RCA looked at each other after confirming what room was ringing. Now, the room in particular was empty, and everyone was in bed. Of course I was asked to go in, and my teammate followed suit. We looked and the handset was on the ground as if someone had picked it up off the hook, and tossed it on the floor. I put it back on the hook and made sure the door was locked, and it didn’t happen again. It still creeps me out thinking about it to this day.