Hospitals are at once places of hope and places of despair. Here people go looking for the cures to their ills, but conversely often meet their ends, the medical system unable to help them. They are both a savior and a doom, depending on the person, and considering their spooky halls and generally unsettling ambiance it is perhaps no doubt that there have been plenty of tales of ghostly occurences going on at hospitals. Here we will look at an assortment of such tales, told mostly by the nurses and doctors who have witnessed them.
Perhaps the most obvious type of ghost or specter that one would expect to find in a hospital is that of a deceased patient. After all, while hospitals are places for saving lives they are also sadly places of death, so is it possible that at times the spirit of a dead patient sticks around for some reason we may never comprehend? One account comes from Redditor “difficultlemon,” who claims to have worked in nursing homes for years, and that most of their patients died within a few years of coming to them. They relate one case of a patient who seems to have wanted to stay around, and says of it:
I had a new patient move into one of the rooms on my hall that my previous patient had just passed in. My new patient kept calling at night saying that there was this women who kept coming into her room and trying to talk to her. At first I just passed it off on her being in her 90’s and struggling with dementia, so I assured her that I would lock her door at night to make sure no one could come in. After about a week of this continuing to happen, I sat down with her and was asking what this women looked like (thinking she may just be hallucinating her daughter or sister or something ) and she proceed to tell me that this women had a pink robe on with blue fuzzy slippers and her hair up in curlers, and the women would come in sit at the foot of her bed, pat the new patients feet and try to talk to her but she couldn’t understand what she was saying. I almost pissed myself. The patient that I had had in that room prior to my new one, went to bed, EVERY NIGHT, in her pink house robe, blue slippers and her hair in curlers. It stopped after about two weeks.
Spooky, indeed. Another Reddit user “lilpin13” claims to have worked at a ward for returning POWs after Vietnam. He says that one side of the ward was used as a same day surgery unit and the other half was an impatient ward, and that at night, the same day surgery side was locked up and no one was over there. He says that several times a night they would have call buttons go off in the closed off ward, usually from the same 3 out of 5 rooms and in the same beds, and that the storage room, not used for patient care in years, would have the most amount of call buttons going off. It would always happen between one and four in the morning, and then there was the disembodied moaning that was apparently heard coming from the same areas. The witness says:
The hospital admissions staff came over & asked why there were people moaning in the rooms next door. When they were told there were no patients in that room & no one had used that room in years, they got creeped out & would run past that room. Watching all this gave me an idea. One night the call buttons went off 7 or 8 times in a row. I was tired of getting the keys & going into the same creepy dark room several times in this one night, I stood near an empty bed & told the air that I was giving the “patient” something for pain. Then I said that I hoped they felt better, said good night, locked the door & went back to the other side of the ward. It quit going off that night after that. I knew others had this same issue & told them to try the pain medication trick, & eventually, we would give the “patient(s)” pain medication on the first call & it would be quiet for the rest of the night. Other times we wouldn’t do it & the button would go off multiple times a night.
Ghosts or just a glitch and overactive imaginations? One nurse in a post-surgical unit calling herself “JG” claims to work in a haunted hospital, and that one of the stories they don’t tell living patients about is the one about all of the dead ones still hanging around. One case is that of a room in which dead patients are seen in their beds when no one else should be there, and she says of this:
There was that time a few months ago when a patient told me she felt like there were three other people in the ward room with her, in each of the other three beds around her. They were talking back and forth and whispering, she said. But the weird thing was, she was alone in the four-bed room. I pulled back the curtains and showed her myself. All of the other beds were empty, and there were no visitors or staff in the room with her. As if that weren’t disturbing enough, a few weeks later a different patient said the exact same thing, when she had been left alone in the same room. She described it exactly the same way, saying they were whispering back and forth and it was keeping her awake. I felt a chill up my spine when she told me that, but reassured her that the room was empty, and she was simply imagining things. People have enough to worry about when they’re recovering from surgery, we don’t need them fretting about specters and ghosts when they should be worried about physio and discharge appointments, lifting restrictions and medication adjustments. So we keep these stories to ourselves. What we don’t tell the patients, what we’re not supposed to tell them, is that there are ghosts here. Just like any other hospital, people pass away and their spirits sometimes linger, or maybe it is just a fragment of them that remains behind, something that science can’t explain yet. There have been more than a few events that have raised the hair on the back of my neck, and some have sent me into hysterical screaming fits. But those types of reactions are frowned upon in the hospital. So I try to stay calm.
The same witness gives another creepy case of a nurse in the same ward who told her a story of an apparent deceased former nurse who goes around the hospital peering into rooms. She says that this happened in a staff room where she was taking a rest, and that just as she began to drift off to sleep she saw something very spooky, indeed. JG says of what the nurse told her:
We have a staff room where there are two small couches and a TV. Some nurses go in there to sleep during breaks on the night shift and we try our best not to wake them up. She was sleeping on the couch there one night and a bright light woke her up. There’s an adjoining room with a bathroom and lockers, so she figured one of the nurses had gone in there and left the light on. “I looked over at the door,” she told me. “You know how it has that little glass window and you can see through to the other side?” “Yeah,” I said. I see it every day.” “So, there’s this woman on the other side of the door. And she’s looking at me through the glass.” I got shivers up my spine when she said this. Maybe because it was the night shift, maybe because that was where I was going on my break in an hour to sleep, or at least try to.
She continued her story. “And so I see her there, but she’s not really looking at me. She’s just kinda staring straight ahead. And the first thing I notice about her is her hair. It was in this very old fashioned sort of style, not like anything you’d see today. It was like it was from the 70s or earlier maybe. And she was wearing these funky blue pinstripe scrubs. And a nurse’s cap! You know, nobody wears a cap anymore these days. And those scrubs… They looked like the ones, you know in the lobby, how they have those ones on display? From way back when? Yeah, they looked just like that. So she’s just standing there, staring straight ahead. And I thought it was the IV nurse at first. Because sometimes they’d come in during the night shift and use the bathroom or whatever. So I yelled at her, ‘Hey! Turn that light off, will ya!? I’m trying to sleep in here!’ But she just kept staring straight ahead. So I just put the pillow over my head and tried to sleep some more. Then when I woke up later on and that light was still on. So I asked around. Nobody came in there during the night. And that room is locked, so it wasn’t a patient. And I saw the IV nurse later on and they were not dressed like that… So, yeah. I’m pretty sure I know who it was, though.”
According to her, the woman was the ghost of a nurse who had died driving home after a long night shift, and had fallen asleep at the wheel. Based on the description she’d given, an older coworker had recognized her. She’d said that was exactly what an old nurse who used to work there looked like. Something occurred to me as she finished the story. “That’s really weird. My patient in room fourteen told me last night that they saw someone peeking their head in the room and looking at them. And sometimes they would stand in the doorway and just stare at them for a while. She said the person had a very old fashioned haircut, and old fashioned scrubs. She thought it was a ghost or maybe a hallucination.” Ghosts and hallucinations are commonplace on the post-surgical floor, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the two apart. Pain medication induced post-operative delirium is not unheard of, especially in the elderly.
She claims that this ghostly nurse has been seen by numerous witnesses all over the hospital. What is going on here? Another Redditor called “Thiek” tells a story of a ghostly old lady at the nursing home he works at. He says:
We had a woman in our assisted living unit. She was a very sweet lady with dementia who could never understand how to use her call light for assistance, so every night she would meander over to her neighbor’s apartment and ask him to get someone to help her get ready for bed. He would then put on his call light and tell whomever came that the lady needed help. The man is still with us, and he has no cognitive deficits or memory problems, he’s here because of severe kidney issues and can’t manage all of his tubes and medications. The lady became ill with pancreas issues and stopped knocking on the man’s door for about a month. She sadly passed away one evening around 4:00 pm. At approximately 7:00 that night, while the family was still in the lady’s room (with her) The man put on his call light and said that “Jane Doe” was ready for bed. Creepy right? The CNA figured he was just picking up an old routine, so she asked him “She came here?” He went on to explain that she must have snuck in the door because he didn’t hear her knock. She was wearing a white robe and holding her rosary beads. The CNA told me all this, and I, being a huge skeptic, didn’t believe it. He must have been dreaming. The family finally left and when the funeral home director arrived to take the body I went with him to hel move her onto the cart. We walk into the room and there she was laying in bed, white gown with rosary beads in hand. The neighbor still occasionally puts on his light for her.
It seems that not all of the ghosts of former patients are gentle or kind. Redditor “smellycheesefeet” tells a rather chilling story of a nasty ghostly boy in his great-grandmother’s nursing home. He says:
My great-grandmother was 94 and just started suffering from dementia. She told the home nurses and me that there was a little boy in the corner of the living room who would taunt and tease my great-grandmother while laughing at her, telling her she was going to die. Well, at first it was a little disturbing, and we all shrugged it off because of her dementia. But then shit got real when my best friend came over with his little boy who is about 3 or 4. The little guy pointed over to the same corner and yelled, “I’m going to beat you up!” When we asked him what that was about, he told us that he saw another little boy in the corner, and he is not nice! We flipped the fuck out! I got shivers just typing this… Maybe Nana wasn’t hallucinating.
Another type of haunting in hospitals seems to revolve around some sort of portent of death or omen, typically involving some sort of specter seen before or right after someone has died. One witness on Reddit gives a good example of this sort of spook, saying:
Used to work in a skilled nursing facility. I was usually assigned to the Alzheimer’s ward. One night, I’m in the linen room stocking my cart, and I heard someone shuffle up behind me, then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around, and there was no one else in the room. The door was still shut, too. Another lady started to complain that a man was coming into her room at night (again, Alzheimer’s, so I didn’t think much of it), so to reassure her, I told her I’d check on her throughout the night. She complained of this man every night for two more weeks when I asked her to describe him to me. ‘He’s real handsome, and wears a black suit. Oh. He’s right behind you now, honey.’ That freaked me the fuck out. Of course, there was no one behind me. She died the next night in her sleep.
Another such case comes from Redditor “Come_In_Me_Bro,” who says he worked for a short time as an EMT, and had a regular who was an older woman that he took to a dialysis center across town frequently. He says of his scary experience:
One day, she was being moved, and I was in the back with her. She looked under the weather, so I asked what was wrong, and she said a man in purple had been visiting her. I asked if he was a relative or a technician, and she shook her head. She said the man would sit next to her during dialysis and stroke her hair. Thinking this was strange, I asked the center techs about such a person, and no one had seen or remembered such a person. Visitors weren’t really a thing at this center anyway, so I assumed the patient was imagining it. Well, one day we’re actually heading to pick her up, and on the way into the parking lot, I see through the window something that chills my heart to think about. It sent shivers up my spine at the time, too, like I immediately recognized it, but I swear to god I saw a man in purple scrubs standing in one of the big windows watching us drive in, and when we pulled out of sight to go to the pickup door, we walked in to see a bunch of techs rushing to my transfer patient. The woman had just suffered a heart attack, and we were unable to revive her even at the hospital she was rushed to. None of the techs in that place wore purple scrubs.
Other hospital hauntings are a bit harder to classify. For instance there is the report from Reddit user “7wrbns,” who worked as a forensic nurse in a hospital’s lock-up unit and had a patient who seems to have been attacked by a hostile entity of some sort. The witness says:
We had one older lady who swore she was being haunted and abused by a demon she would call Tiberius. So many crazy things happened while she was on the unit. We’d go into the room, do normal care, leave, and seconds later she’d start screaming bloody murder. We’d run into the room to find her looking like she’d been in a fight with a boxing champ—bloody lip, black eye, markings all over her body. No one ever saw her doing this stuff to herself. Things would get moved around the room by themselves. At one point she was in protective restraints because the doctor thought she was hurting herself. There was no way she could have moved or done anything to herself while in these restraints, but new marks would always appear or her tray/cart would be across the room. The room was secure so there was no way someone else was doing this. When we asked her questions, she’d just say, “It was Tiberius.” After she was discharged, we always had trouble with that room. If there was going to be a rapid response or code, it happened in that room. One night a guard reported lights blinking on and off. It was that room.
A ghost, demon, or what? Another creepy case concerns what can only be described as a possessed hospital bed. The report comes from Reddit user “joowulz,” who says she is a nurse. She explains of what happened:
I worked the night shift when a ward patient’s relative came running to the nurses’ station in a panic. ‘Nurse! Come quick!’ she cried. ‘What happened?’ ‘You have to see it for yourself!’ I ran to the ward where this little old lady patient was crying and holding on to the bed for dear life. Her bed was shaking. Now, you’re probably thinking that the lady was the one causing all that shaking. But she was this frail, practically emaciated thing. She couldn’t have barely rattled the bed rails. The ward had only two other patients in it and their respective watchers. Everyone was huddled in a corner, shaking in fright. Apparently, that particular ward was seldom used, and the bed that old lady lay in was rarely occupied. People who have laid in it complained of nightmares where they hear screams and laughter of angry children. I guess some restless spirit called dibs on that particular bed.
Finally, there is a case that is really hard to know what to do with. The witness here, Reddit user “jalcott,” claims to be a psychiatric nurse worked at a residential mental health facility early in their career. The witness claims there was a patient they call Marion Duchene, who was an elective mute, which means that he didn’t talk but there were no pathological reasons as to why. The witness describes the bizarre series of events surrounding this patient:
He had spoken earlier in his life and in fact seemed quite normal back then, with the notable exception of being close to seven feet tall. He’d been raised in the Deep South and joined the military when he was nineteen. After boot camp, he was stationed somewhere in the south. One night, he just vanished. It was declared an AWOL for years, and finally he was declared missing and dead. Ten years later, a seven-foot tall man walked into a VA Hospital emergency room in my part of the midwest and said to the receptionist: “My name is Marion Duchene and I’ve been dead for ten years.
Those were the last words he ever spoke. He was covered with dust and he was wearing the same clothes he’d been reported to be wearing the night he vanished. His social security number had not been used and he had no identification on his person. However, they were able to identify him, I guess via fingerprints. He was well-fed and in good health, except for his refusal to speak. The family was notified but they said they had already grieved their lost man and that whomever was claiming to be him simply could not be. They said he was a “haint” and a stand-in for their dead relative and demanded not to be contacted again.
Marion paced all day every day. Not in a frantic way, but just lumbering up and down the halls and outside. He smiled all the time and would be moving his mouth in a way that indicated talking or muttering, but he was dead silent. He had an unnerving habit of throwing his head back with his mouth wide open as if he were laughing heartily but not even a breath could be heard. If told to go to the dining room for a meal, he’d go and eat. But if nobody told him, he just kept pacing, never indicating hunger. If offered a cigarette, he’d smoke it in an oddly formal way, almost delicately, if that makes sense. But he never seemed to crave smoking. The man wanted nothing. If I talked to him, he appeared to listen, periodically throwing his head back in that laughter-mimicking way of his.
There was nothing to do for this man. Various medications were tried, but they did not affect him either positively or negatively. Occupational therapy did nothing because Marion would just grin and unless told to stay put, he’d get up and start pacing again. On my last day at that job, on my way to something better, the last thing I saw was Marion, pacing in the parking lot, throwing his head back to “laugh.” Later I wondered if all along I’d been dealing with a ghost. All these years later, I still don’t know.
There are no doubt plenty more of such stories going around, and we are left with a spooky load of tales from some very creepy places. It perhaps seems that hospitals should indeed have such stories gravitate around them, considering the pain and suffering that can go on in such places. Are any of these true at all or are they simply horror stories woven around undeniably eerie places? Whatever the case may be, as long as there are hospitals there are bound to be plenty of ghost stories to tell.