I spend a ton of time in hospitals and healthcare facilities and I’m fascinated by their history, their design, their energy. Although I’m focused on the future design of healthcare facilities – the importance of developing new, healing environments that are patient- and family-centered – I am intrigued by healthcare’s past. From today’s perspective, it’s a past that is in many ways archaic, cold and institutional. At least it is easy to see it that way.
I’m also interest in hospital ghost stories and the legends of haunted, often abandoned healthcare facilities. Here’s a link to an earlier post I wrote featuring haunting photos of an abandoned railroad hospital. The truth is that all aspects of healthcare fascinate me.
In general, people love ghost stories. Theaters are always rumored to have ghosts. The same is true of most institutions that have any age to them (schools, museums, etc). So why shouldn’t hospitals have their own ghost stories? Here is a reprint of an article from The Boston Globe, November 1, 1926, about the “Shadowy Screecher” of Brockton City Hospital. (Brockton City Hospital is a client of mine! Today it is a modern healthcare facility with a strong focus on quality amd patient-centered care.) It is my persepctive that a well-rounded healthcare marketer needs to know the stories that are told about his or her institution – even the ghost stories. And like me, you may learn about them through Google Alerts! That’s how I found this one.
Hospital Ghost Spurns Halloween
Fails to Perform for Brockton Watchers
Old Tunnel Beneath the Building May Solve Mystery
BROCKTON, Oct 31–Halloween, the time of ghosts and goblins, queer noises and gibberings, passed without any manifestation from the “Shadowy Screecher” of Brockton City Hospital.
For a week “The Ghost” has made nightly visits to the hospital, and in the wee-hours of the morning patients, nurses and even members of Brockton police force were startled, and in some cases, frightened to hear high-pitched, long drawn out screams. The screams sounded first near Ward A in the old part of the building and then in other sections, ending in a long drawn-out derisive wall from the distance.
But “The Ghost” has not been located. Apparently it is temperamental, for on the one night in the year, a night given over to fantastic and mystical apparitions, when “The Ghost” had a real right to perform, he did not show up from midnight to daylight. For the first time in a week since last Sunday, the hospital was free from disturbance of the nocturnal visitor,
Patients in A and Wales wards slept comfortably, but nurses, house officers and others kept alert for hours.
Shortly after 5 o’clock, when the nurses entered the wards to prepare the patients for the day, the patients seemed to be more disturbed by the absence of the ghost then when he had made his “call.”
Last February, the noises were first heard for about three nights and repeated again a week ago Wednesday. During the height of the heavy rainstorm last Sunday night the patients and members of the night staff were startled by loud noises and a wailing high-pitched tone. The this tone was not too high for a man’s voice, however.
For several nights, a detail of police have guarded the hospital and conducted an investigation of the matter, but the officers did not “lay the ghost.”
One patient declared that from the window of his room he saw the ghost run away after a particularly loud screech was heard. Beneath the building there are several old tunnels that connect the various department buildings and it is possible for someone to enter them if he were familiar with the institution. While some of the screaming and wailing seems to come from beneath the building, most of it is from outside however. Various suspects have been checked up and eliminated from the investigation.
Last night the police detail was not seen in the hospital, but a group of men and women kept vigil in Ward A. Two ex-patients, a house physician, four women nurses and a Boston reporter awaited “the ghost.” At 3 a.m. the ex-patients and the physicians left for bed, but the reporter’s vigil continued all through the early morning.
Constantly, the nurses assured him he was about to see the ghost, at that the ghost always appeared at just a certain time. At 5:30 o’clock the watchful waiting ended with no ghost.
I found this story thanks to a blog post in Beyond the Bridgewater Triangle. If you’re interest in other stories of haunted hospitals, here are a few links: