5 Haunted Hospitals

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by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

What do abandoned hospitals, nursing homes, asylums, sanitariums and morgues have in common? Many are haunted. Simply put, they are reputed to be home to tormented spirits. Lost souls who are trapped by trauma and untimely deaths, these uneasy spirits are unable to cross over.

How likely would YOU be to explore an abandoned asylum?

5 Haunted Hospitals

Believers say that such spirits remain earthbound, stuck in locations such as demolished hospitals and asylums long after the structures are abandoned because of lingering, intense energies. 

Holding space for the anguish of the mentally ill (including children), unspeakable evil of the criminally insane, illness, death and even torture of thousands of souls, the buildings and surroundings are fertile ground for supernatural activity. Furniture moves on its own. Orbs and shadow people terrifyingly appear and disappear. Unexplained whiffs of decay, strains of creepy music and the feeling of cobwebs brushing across your face are just a few signs of a haunted hospital.

According to Ann Smolko, an RN, writer, and psychic medium, “negative energy on the site of a demolished hospital is absorbed into the ground and imprinted onto the etheric space of where the hospital once existed.” 

Here are five (5) hospitals reputed to be haunted.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

This was a truly fearful asylum in Weston, West Virginia, where barbaric lobotomies and electric shock treatments were routinely performed on the mentally unstable. In addition to lobotomies and electric shock treatments, patients were subjected to water therapy. They were plunged into surprise baths of ice-cold water alternating with hot water baths. Baths could last for hours, even days, with the patients wrapped in mummy-like sheets. Baths were thought to be more effective if patients were dunked without warning. 

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is now a museum, where visitors report entering rooms only to have doors slam shut behind them. Disembodied screams of terror and moans can be heard through the walls.

Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Located in southwestern Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky, Waverly housed and quarantined tuberculosis patients until it closed in 1961. It’s known as one of the most haunted places on earth. It started as a 2-floor facility but grew to a five-floor building and community of its own with its own dedicated zip code. Closed for unsavory conditions, it re-opened as a geriatric facility only to close again in 1982 for patient neglect. Waverly featured a Death Tunnel, a 500 ft long chute where nurses lowered dead bodies to be disposed of further on down the hill.

A young pregnant nurse hung herself in Room 502 on the fifth floor from a light fixture in 1928. Legend has it that she was unwed and pregnant from a liaison with a doctor. Four years later, another nurse leaped out of the window in the same room, Room 502. That's the official story. Some maintain she did not jump, but was pushed to her death.

Another inhabitant is little seven-year-old Timmy, so named by tour guides. Timmy often rolls a red ball down the hallway towards tour groups. He just wants to play. Eternally.

Mary is a wisp of a girl in a thin white nightgown, with long honey-brown hair streaking across her face. She’s a cute little waif…until you get close enough to see her face. Or at least try to see her face. She doesn’t have one, just a blackness where her nose, mouth and eyes should be.

State Lunatic Asylum at Taunton in Massachusetts

Built for 250 patients, at one point, Taunton housed close to 2,000 patients. Jolly Jane (Jane Toppan), a nurse, was one of Taunton’s most notorious patients. She was also a serial killer who admitted to killing 31 of her own patients by lethal injection. Her only regret was not killing more.

Taunton is infamous for its basement of horrors. The unspeakably cruel methods used to treat the insane gave rise to horrific tales of torture, many conducted in the basement of Taunton. The mentally ill, along with those suffering from birth defects, or even simply learning disabilities, were excluded from society and secluded together in facilities such as Taunton. 

Doctors reportedly experimented on patients, including removing limbs from living patients and attaching them to other patients, which usually resulted in death. 

The infamous basement is said to have a palpable sense of evil. Taunton employees have forfeited their jobs rather than descend into the basement. Those who have been in the basement describe Satanic symbols posted in several areas.

Other persistent stories center around cults and Satanic rituals performed in the surrounding woods.

Rolling Hills Asylum

Originally called the Genesee County Poor Farm, the Rolling Hills Asylum in East Bethany, New York, was established in 1826, a poorhouse and self-sufficient farm for the mentally and physically disadvantaged. Thousands had no families to claim them when they died and were buried on the property in unmarked graves. 

To this day, the grounds are full of the nameless dead and spirits roam restlessly at night.

Pennhurst State School and Hospital

(Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic) Spring City, Pennsylvania 

On admission to Pennhurst, patients were classified as either imbeciles or insane. Described as “understaffed, dirty and violent” by a Time magazine expose, many Pennhurst patients were disadvantaged children with disabilities who required custodial care. Forced to close in 1981, the conditions and abuse of children were the stuff of nightmares. Staff beat patients and set up fights between patients for the entertainment of staff. 

It's believed that the pain of those who suffered and died at Pennhurst still lingers and lives on in paranormal activity, including disembodied voices and figures. The hospital was the subject of the A&E special World's Biggest Ghost Hunt: Pennhurst Asylum. In the documentary,  a team of paranormal investigators locked themselves inside the hospital for two (2) weeks, investigating paranormal activity.

FACT or FOLKLORE? You decide. But even for those who don’t believe in ghosts, how likely would you be to explore an abandoned asylum … alone … late at night?

Hi! Nice to meet you! I love helping new nurses in all my various roles. I work in a hospital in Staff Development, and am a blogger and author.

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9 Comment(s)

beachynurse, ASN, BSN

Specializes in School Nursing. Has 37 years experience. 299 Posts

I grew up near a state psychiatric hospital on Long Island called Pilgrim State, and on the property was a building that was called Edgewood. After the facility closed down, the buildings remained for many years before being torn down. I remember as a teenager wandering the property at night, and going into Edgewood with my friends. We would climb up, rush down the stairs and run  through every floor, looking for anything we could find that was left behind. Rumor was that the building was haunted, but none of us ever seen any ghosts, or spirits, but we had fun pushing each other on stretchers and gurneys that had been left behind. Sigh, if my parents ever knew that I was playing there..... 

feelix

feelix, RN

333 Posts

Quote

unspeakable evil of the criminally insane

You lost me when you called the criminally insane “evil”. It is just like calling someone with an acute MI being possessed by the devil, or by attributing illness to hysteria.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience. 151 Articles; 2,718 Posts

@feelix, RN-I should have clarified...I'm not talking about people with mental illness who may exhibit dangerous behavior-I'm talking about people who claim insanity as a legal defense, some of whom are committed to state psych hospitals.

I once had a patient in MedSurg who was the latter. He was blond and blue-eyed, with an open face. He appeared normal. Usually the guards would not say what the offense was, but that day the guard told me for some reason. It was such a heinous act committed on a 3 yr old little girl that I struggled the rest of the day to take care of this guy.

feelix

feelix, RN

333 Posts

Quote
1 hour ago, Nurse Beth said:

@feelix, RN-I should have clarified...I'm not talking about people with mental illness who may exhibit dangerous behavior-I'm talking about people who claim insanity as a legal defense, some of whom are committed to state psych hospitals.

I once had a patient in MedSurg who was the latter. He was blond and blue-eyed, with an open face. He appeared normal. Usually the guards would not say what the offense was, but that day the guard told me for some reason. It was such a heinous act committed on a 3 yr old little girl that I struggled the rest of the day to take care of this guy.

Thank you for the clarification.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience. 151 Articles; 2,718 Posts

31 minutes ago, feelix said:

 

@feelix, RN You're welcome. I have a lot of personal experience with mental illness in my family, and my husband and I had to educate ourselves (shout out to NAMI) as we worked through how to love and support our loved one. I'm an advocate 🙂

No Stars In My Eyes

Specializes in Med nurse in med-surg., float, HH, and PDN. Has 43 years experience. 3,495 Posts

I've had a lot of private duty cases in my day. Many very wealthy, very old folks who lived in enormous, old, mansion-type houses. Because many were bed-bound, the rest of the house had little traffic. Dust, peeling wallpaper, darker corners in dark rooms.

Once another caregiver told me that "the Mr." who had died some years before, roamed around his house after sunset (I worked 3-11). The wood in the living-room's cathedral ceiling creaked all the time, according to the weather and temperature. I think the other caregiver was trying to scare me. She seemed disappointed when I said, "Well, it's his house, so if he wants to walk around in here, that's no problem." 

barcode120x, BSN, MSN, NP

Specializes in Telemetry. Has 7 years experience. 643 Posts

I've always been intrigued by the paranormal and I like hearing about events that had happened to others in the hospital. I've watched almost every single episode of Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures back in the day. I haven't really followed any other recent reality paranormal shows as it just doesn't seem as authentic as the former two I mentioned. 

I've had a handful of weird moments but this one creeps me out the most. Around 8 or 9 years ago when I was a lift tech (some places call the position mobility techs), my partner and I were doing our nightly rounds of turning patients. We passed by a room and I noticed a patient sitting at the side of the bed staring out the door. We both came in just to check to see if she was okay. She had this terrified look on her face and she said she was going to die. Having worked in the hospital for awhile already and being around patients and at night, we brushed it off, helped her get repositioned in bed and went on our way. We passed by the same unit about 2 hours later and we saw the room empty and I asked what happened to that patient and the nurse told me that she had passed away. Definitely creeped me out the rest of the night.

londonflo

londonflo

Specializes in oncology. Has 45 years experience. 2,175 Posts

On 11/2/2022 at 5:36 PM, Nurse Beth said:

I once had a patient in MedSurg who was the latter. He was blond and blue-eyed, with an open face. He appeared normal. Usually the guards would not say what the offense was, but that day the guard told me for some reason. It was such a heinous act committed on a 3 yr old little girl that I struggled the rest of the day to take care of this guy.

If someone is incarcerated (my state) the offense becomes public record and is readily available on the internet. When I was teaching, we had quite a few patients who came from local prisons. When students would ask about the prisoners' offences I explained that they can look it up but be aware it may bring up feelings that may challenge your feelings about caring for the patient. Even if the student did not look up the offense that caused prison term, there was always some one -- prison guard, staff nurse, CNA, who wanted to 'fill you in". 

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience. 151 Articles; 2,718 Posts

6 hours ago, londonflo said:

 When students would ask about the prisoners' offences I explained that they can look it up but be aware it may bring up feelings that may challenge your feelings about caring for the patient. 

Sometimes compartmentalizing is an act of sheer will