Room 827 - Nursing Ghost Story Article

A short little tale exploring the history and spirit of one of Chicago's most prestigious and longest-standing hospitals.


I have the rare and distinct honor of working in the ICU of one of Chicago's most prestigious and longest-standing hospitals. Don't get me wrong, I busted my backside getting here, with a large helping of luck along the way. When I started this past February, I noticed a nice change of pace in the orientation process. There was a clever mixture of history in with the standard Rules and Regulations type stuff, just enough to keep my interest. One bit of information I found particularly interesting was that our hospital had undergone many changes in the unit structures before reaching it's current layout. As a matter of fact, before we built a dedicated children's hospital next door, our current Med/Surg floor fulfilled the Peds role.

On our last day of orientation, right before our short Friday came to an end, our education liaison came in to deliver one additional little nugget of lore to our information-beaten brains. Maybe she was trying to see who was paying attention, or maybe it was a reward for those who possessed the cognitive fortitude to make it through those last five minutes...I'll never know. She came in to tell us a story, one that had been developing over the last 40 some years. It was the story of a little girl, her name since forgotten, who once called that eighth floor pediatrics wing home, room 827 to be exact. She was in for something common at the time, although the story-teller didn't know exactly what. This little girl was loved by the whole unit, because no matter how sick she got, she always just wanted to play. The doctors would tell her, "Now you need to stay in bed, that's the only way you will get better" and the nurses would always find her by the window, sitting on the ledge, begging for them to come play with her.

One cold November night, an extra chill blew through that dusty unit as the cries of a young mother rang throughout the halls. It was the girl, she had succumb to her illness. The nurses, orderlies and physicians all knew it was coming, but they never expected tonight would be the night, and it broke their hearts.

Shortly thereafter the unit was shut down for remodeling. The peds unit was then moved to the other side of the hospital for it's eventual transition to the new children's building. In the old unit's place was a brand new, state-of-the-art Medical Surgical unit. Although the structure was still the same, the walls had been painted, and the amenities all updated. Shortly after the new unit opened, something very interesting started to happen. Stories started to spread of patients telling nurses of seeing a little girl near the window in their room, always followed by a sudden turn for the worst, ending in a code blue and ultimately their death. The stories were so regular, in fact, that the manager on that floor began keeping records of when the stories occurred.

Now, as an ICU nurse, I have a decent amount of brains in my head, even if I am relatively new. So, I took this story with a grain of salt. I knew it was just a neat old story, no matter how intriguing it seemed.

Then it came, my first day off orientation. A code blue was called through the overhead speaker during our pre-shift conference. Being the aggressive young (male) nurse that I am, I run to just about every code there is, and this was no exception. When I arrived at this one, it was pretty standard with nothing out of the ordinary. It was an 84 year old male with a surprisingly small health history, his heart had just seemed to give out on him. So, like most codes, we began compressions and started our ACLS protocol.

I have always been a compressions guy, never really getting into the charting of pushing meds during the code. At this particular time, we had just reached about 13 minutes of CPR when we regained a pulse, with me currently kneeling on the bed next to the patient for leverage. I knew better than to get down off the bed, since I already had established my positioning, so I sat and waited while the patient was assessed. Just then, as if someone flicked on the lights inside this old man's head, his eyes opened. Bright. Wide. He looked directly at me, perched over him like an ancient gargoyle. Then, defying medical possibility, he opened his mouth and said to me with a smile, "I'll come and play with you", then he turned his head, looked at the window, and his heart stopped.

We tried for at least 30 more minutes (the entire time with a my stomach in complete knots), but there was nothing we could do, he never regained a pulse. As part of the code paperwork, I was required to sign my name on the record sheet. I had noticed that someone left the room number off, so I called out, "Hey, what room is this anyway?", and at that moment everyone looked at me as if I should have already known, and at that moment I was 827.

I'm a ICU nurse from Chicago. I have a beautiful and incredibly supportive wife, with whom I have two absolutely amazing daughters. I was just accepted into the US Air Force as an officer. I also love beer and Jeeps.

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Strange, we have a hospital in our city that has a story like that. When the hosp was just open there was a massive car accident. The parents were killed but the two children survived long enough to make it to the new ER where they later passed away. Many times patients see them playing in their room or sitting on the window before things go south. Sometimes they say" Do you see the children, where are their parents, why are they in my room." When you heard or saw this you knew the end was near. Many pts stated they heard children laughing. At times the staff might heard something late at night, and this believe me was a busy hosp day or night. It did not matter what floor ER. ICU Med/surg, it was always the same.

I know because my father helped build the hospital I am speaking of, and I worked there for a while, and there are any stories to tell. We had one of the few free standing hospce houses in the country, and the stories I could tell while working there, day and night.

Thank you for the read, interesting.


297 Posts

Specializes in ED, ICU, Education. Has 7 years experience.

Excellent story! Well written!


1 Post

Most hospitals are haunted, but that story is a bit scary. We as busy nurses usually make jokes about the a cold spot in a room or a call light that comes on in an empty room and keep on working.

danegerous, BSN, RN

1 Article; 152 Posts

Specializes in ICU/CCU. Has 12 years experience.

For the record, folks, this story is actually true and I experienced is with almost this exact detail, with a Tad bit of creative license, too. I had never seen the story 421 posted on the forums, and I PROFUSELY apologize for any similarities. With that, carry on.

Bonnie Piper

11 Posts

Has 45 years experience.

I work in an outpatient clinic that has established an office in an old "cancer building". Evidently, this building was used for radiation oncology and cancer treatment for outpatients. So now, it is an office used for just physician office visits. When we first moved to this building in 2007, we had a new physician that also established a private practice in the back of the building. Since she initially had no staff assigned to her, I helped her set up her office. She was the best in her field and had loads of certificates and awards to hang on the wall. We decorated and hung the documents on the wall and everything looked quite nice for her to start her practice. We then established the hospital portion of the office on the front side of the building and had everything in place for both practices.

I frequently helped her out in her office until she could get her own staff. One day she asked me if I had moved any of the things on the wall? I told her I hadn't and saw that all the documents were moved to different places and her decorations were reversed. I thought that maybe the housekeeper had moved things while dusting and forgot about it.

Over the next few months, this happened more often. Additionally, things were rearranged on her desk. I finally talked to the housekeeper and asked about it. The housekeeper was horrified and said that she didn't touch anything. She had been informed from her "boss" that she should only vacuum and clean the exam rooms. I explained this to the physician and she laughingly replied "maybe we have a ghost". Over the next few months, I really didn't think much more about it. I didn't need to help the physician out as much because she had hired an assistant.

The physician went on an extended vacation and her private practice was locked up for a few weeks. The other part of the building, where I worked the most, was busy with other physicians. My days were hectic and many times I worked straight through the day without lunch or any break, but I always had my coffee cup full. And many days I left it half-full, locked my office door and left in a hurry to finally get home. One morning, I came in and my coffee cup was scrubbed clean and sitting on a paper towel. When I went to my desk, all my pens were removed from my pen holder and the pens were scattered on the desk and there were pencils in the holder. When the housekeeper came to the office to clean, I asked her if she had been in my office and she said that she couldn't get into because it was locked.

I became very curious about all this activity and other things that occurred throughout the building, like magazines moved and chairs re-arranged. I decided to try to find the nursing staff that had worked in this building prior to us and ask them a few questions. I was able to locate one nurse that had worked in the "cancer center" and asked her if anyone had ever died in the center. Being that it was an outpatient center, I didn't think so, but thought I'd ask. Sure enough, there was a poor dear lady named Mary, that passed away in that building while getting her cancer treatment. I inquired about that patient and was informed that she had been a cleaning lady for physician practices. Really! Now things were starting to come together.

Two years went by, with an occasional visit from our "friendly cleaning ghost". We got use to it and would fake like we were talking to her. The physician placed a sign on her desk that said something to the effect that "friendly ghosts are welcome".

One day the physician and I had a chance to have some smalltalk and I told her about what I found out about the ghost. She told me that she welcomes ghosts when they are good ghosts! Imagine that!! I jokingly told her that if she ever leaves our hospital, that she should take the ghost with her.

She did....I haven't had my coffee cup cleaned that well since last year when that physician left. The pictures, magazines, chairs and decorations never change. I miss the physician and Mary.

*Mary is a fictitious name to protect anonymity.


18 Posts

I got the chills while reading this!! excellent writing and story telling!!!

danegerous, BSN, RN

1 Article; 152 Posts

Specializes in ICU/CCU. Has 12 years experience.
I got the chills while reading this!! excellent writing and story telling!!!

Thank you, that means a lot to me!

Oh I love these kinds of stories!! Always fun to read! On a personal note, I think my dad guards and protects us and our house. He passed away at home while on hospice, and every now and then I swear I can feel him there with me... It's the best feeling ever! Miss you daddy


206 Posts

Specializes in homecare, rehab,sub acute.

I loved this story and so spooky cause I'm a chicago nurse, makes me wonder. Thanks for sharing


46 Posts

When I was still in nursing school, we would sometimes be assigned to district hospitals located an hour away from the city. There we heard stories from the staff meant to scare us. I figured, it's just their way of 'welcoming' us that I never even gave it much thought.

One night, during our evening break at about 11pm... since we were not that familiar with the nooks & crannies of the wing yet, we asked a nurse on duty the way to the canteen. She said she's also on a break herself, we cud go with her to the canteen. We followed her, chatting silently behind her. She told us that we'll be going to a short cut, that we never doubted why she'd lead us near the newly-constructed building. Then she said, she'll just hurry out ahead of us 'coz she'll be meeting someone...then out she went through the door.

We were stunned. Just stunned.

Later, we were told that she was really a nurse then in the hospital. It's just that she still thinks she is.

Specializes in Neurosurgical/Trauma ICU, stroke, TBI,. Has 6 years experience.

I'm a Chicago nurse and keep trying to figure out what hospital! Rush, U of C, UIC, Loyola??? Can't be NMH or IL Masonic. Hmmm???