Earlier this summer my firm was retained by a health system in the Midwest for a consulting assignment. The system has a number of hospitals, including a highly regarded psychiatric hospital. Prior to my first visit, I asked the SVP of Marketing about hotels that are convenient to the administrative offices. The SVP responded that their marketing offices were on the grounds of the psychiatric hospital and that they have accommodations for guests right on the property. She added that I was more than welcome to save a little money and stay in a facility on their campus that was originally constructed to serve as the home of the hospital’s superintendent and his family. Wow! I’ve worked in healthcare for a long time, but I’ve never stayed overnight at a client’s facility, not to mention an historic psychiatric hospital.
I am fairly frugal, so I took the SVP up on the offer. That night I went home after work and told my wife of my plans to stay in this mansion on the grounds of the psychiatric hospital. Oh, and did I mention that I would be the only one staying in this building? The hospital uses it for special functions. There is office staff there during the day, but at night, it was going to be all mine.
My wife was not happy with me. “Why would you do that?” My stepdaughter wanted to know if the mansion is haunted. I played along and mentioned that I had heard rumors to that effect. Neither of them thought I was making a good choice.
The day of my first visit arrived, and I showed up on the campus of the psychiatric hospital at about 6pm. A security guard escorted me the the building, unlocked the front door, showed me to my room and gave me the keys to the place. It was a really impressive building, nicely renovated. There were these amazing 12 foot ceilings and beautiful fireplaces in nearly every room – including mine. The only thing that felt spooky was the basement, and I didn’t go near there. After the security guard left and I made myself at home, I headed out in my rental car to get some takeout from a local Thai restaurant. The food was great and I had a nice, quiet evening in the haunted mansion.
The next morning I got up early and headed over to the building where the marketing team is housed, and I began my consulting assignment. Several of the people I met with asked me where I was staying while I was in town, and I mentioned the old mansion right on the property. A couple of them were in disbelief that I was staying in that place all by myself. Then one of them mentioned that several people had reported seeing a ghost roaming the property, evidently the spirit of a nurse who died on the grounds. Things were starting to get interesting.
One of the members of the marketing team, a friend of mine will go by the name of Nathaniel in this story, was stunned when he heard I was staying in the mansion. Nathaniel has a keen interest in the paranormal and thoroughly believes that the property is haunted. He is the kind of guy who does paranormal investigations in his spare time. He’s even been known to go on Bigfoot expeditions. Nathaniel suggested that we organize a paranormal investigation to coincide with my next visit to the health system. I’ve never been a part of anything like that so I happily agreed. It sounded like an opportunity to broaden my horizons and perhaps have some fun.
As I prepared the agenda for my second visit to the health system, Nathaniel and I set aside one of the evenings for our ghost hunt! After a full day of consulting, we headed out for dinner at a local Mexican Restaurant, and then back to the mansion to wait for darkness to set in. For some reason, paranormal investigations are usually undertaken at night. I don’t think ghosts care whether it is day or night. My belief is that the darkness lends an element of drama to the activity. Whatever the case, once it was dark outside we killed the lights in the mansion, grabbed Nathaniel’s ghost hunting tools (a digital recorder to catch electronic voice phenomenon – EVPs; A handheld infrared thermometer; a number of motion sensors; an EMF detector; several video cameras and more) and began our investigation of the mansion.
We spent about an hour and a half walking around the building, going from room to room trying to engage any spirits who might be hanging out. We had no luck. Nothing. It was a weird experience. We both felt as though there was something there with us, but always just out of reach. Almost toying with us. Just as we were about to shut down for the evening, we set our equipment down on a marble coffee table in the living room of the mansion, and we parked ourselves in a couple of comfortable chairs. Our plan was to just chill out and reflect upon the evening.
Suddenly, the K-II meter started lighting up like a Christmas Tree! A K-II meter responds instantaneously to Electro Magnetic Frequency (EMF) fluctuations and spikes. The meter has an easy-to-read multi-segment LED display that lights up in the presence of an EMF. Ghosts supposedly have been know to cause fluctuations in electro magnetic frequencies. (Remember, this is all new to me.) Once the meter started flashing, we both got excited! We started asking the “entity” questions and gave it directions to make the K-II meter light up with one flash for “Yes” and two flashes for “No.” Okay, this is the strange part of the story. For seven minutes straight, we carried on a conversation with the meter flashing its responses. “Are there others here with you?” Yes. “Should we investigate the basement?” No. “Did you work at the hospital?” Yes. “Are you an expert in population health management?” No. “Do you support the Affordable Care Act?” Yes. (Okay, we didn’t really ask those last two questions.) As you might imagine, this was pretty cool. After about 7 minutes of this, Nathaniel asked the entity if we were bothering it by intruding. We got an immediate “YES.” I was surprised when Nathaniel then responded by apologizing for the intrusion and stating that we would leave the space and head back to my room. We did just that. After about 20 minutes celebrating our success in contacting “the other side,” we went back down stairs to the living room to see if we could find any sources of the EMF fluctuations. Something in the building might have been causing the K-II meter to go off. We found nothing. This had been the only time all night that the K-II meter came to life and we couldn’t recreate it.
It was about 11pm when Nathaniel suddenly proclaimed that it was time for him to head home. He looked at me and said casually: “Man, you’re really brave to be staying in this place all by yourself; especially after what we just experienced.” That’s when the realization hit me that I was going to be spending the night alone in this building. All alone. And we had evidently just stirred up some spirit who resided there. As my wife said: What was I thinking?
Here’s the kicker: I woke up at about 1am to sound of footsteps up on the third floor. It was the sound of someone pacing back and forth. No way was I going out there to investigate. I could tell from the window of my room on the second floor that there were no cars in the driveway, so it wasn’t security making their rounds. Plus, the security guy had come through at about 9pm and said he wouldn’t be back for the rest of the night. I figured I must have been hearing things – old buildings make noises. So I tried to go back to sleep. As it was, I had to leave at 4:30am to drive to the airport and catch an early flight home. I needed sleep.
But the footsteps continue – all night long. It was so spooky. When the alarm on my iPhone went off at 4am, I had maybe gotten a total of 2 hours sleep. By 4:30am I had showered and packed up, and I was ready to head out to the car. Of course, that would mean having to walk through the dark halls of this building while it was still pitch black outside! As I left my room I quickly turned on every light I came across. I left the mansion and made a dash for my car, glad to be heading home. This experience gave me a whole new level of appreciation for the Marriott, Hilton and Wyndham Hotels I normally frequent. And I didn’t get any rewards points for staying in the haunted mansion. However, I did have a really interesting experience! If you would like to read about Top 10 Scariest Haunted Hospitals in the United States, click here.